Let’s face it: social media isn’t going anywhere any time soon.

Let’s face it: social media isn’t going anywhere any time soon.

Last year, 81% of Americans had a social media profile and the number of users continues to grow. Social media audiences are also getting younger with kids as young as 10 years old opening social media accounts.

As digital natives, it’s no surprise that today’s students are adept social media users. And program leaders can use that to their advantage to enhance learning in their program.

To help you get started, we’ve shared three ways to safely use social media as a learning tool in your after school program:

Use live video to tap into new learning experiences.

Live video allows you to connect with anyone in the world in real time. And currently, social media users have the ability to “go live” via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

You can use live video to collaborate with after school programs in a different state or country. Virtually invite guest speakers into your program without the hassle of scheduling or travel arrangements. Or take students on a virtual field trip and give them an opportunity to “visit” museums, historical sites, cultural landmarks and other points of interest they may not see otherwise.

To make the best use of live video in your program, make sure you have a stable internet connection to ensure audio and visual clarity.

Gain insight through social media monitoring tools.

Social media offers audience and subject monitoring tools that are useful for compiling valuable information for research.

Students can simply use the “search” feature to explore different hashtags, topics, people and businesses. Or they can use more complex tools, like Facebook Audience Insights, to extract data for a specific group of people, like their demographics and interests.

Whether students are working on a homework assignment or a larger project, social media monitoring tools can help them gain valuable insight on a particular topic. One way to do this is by setting up one account on the various social media platforms, and allowing students to access the accounts to conduct their research. Be sure to have the appropriate safety measures in place before providing student access.

Foster collaboration outside of the learning environment.

Social media can help to extend learning beyond your after school program.

It has a natural collaborative environment: it’s designed to encourage sharing, feedback and communication. It also provides students who may not be as vocal in the classroom with an outlet to share answers and voice their opinion.

You can use these tools to:

  • Foster community among students.
  • Allow students to respectfully critique and comment on each other’s assignments.
  • Conduct Q & A’s on a particular subject.
  • Easily communicate with students in your program.

This typically requires students to set up individual social media accounts. We recommend getting permission from a parent or guardian before asking students to connect with you online. An alternative to public social media channels is Twiducate, which allows educators and students to collaborate in a safe, private online environment.

When used safely and correctly, social media is an effective tool for enhancing learning in your after school program. Today’s students are digital natives, and using social media as a learning tool has the opportunity to better engage and motivate them to learn. For more ideas on using social media to enhance learning, check out 5 Ultimate Tricks Of Using Social Media As Learning Tools.