Category: Social media

Is it Time for a Social Media Awareness Class?

Christian Miraglia, Ask a Tech Teacher contributor, has some great ideas on teaching kids about Social Media Awareness:

Over the last decade, there has been pressure in the K-12 learning environment to create classes that address everything from managing your money to various efforts to address cultural inequalities. The problem with including these classes, which all have good intentions, is that there is not enough time to address these subjects without taking away from core subjects. However, with the continued issue of social media’s influence on our teens, I think it is time to address this, especially in light of the recent massacre in Uvalde. The shooter was a user of Yubo and had posted threatening messages on the platform. I am sure that many teachers and parents have never heard of Yubo, which creates a problem in itself. Since the problem is complex, there are no simple solutions, but in light of what we see as educators, it is time to address the problem of social media use by our children in an educational setting.

Teachers understand the influence social media has had on students. In a recent article in the publication EdSurge, teacher Tyler Rablin lamented on losing battle with students’ cellphone use in schools. He conveyed his frustration with having students distracted by social media alerts and viewing videos as he tried to teach. I experienced the same in my years in the classroom. Whether it was text messages or videos, I encountered daily disruptions to my teaching, no matter what measure I took. Rabin’s solution was to ban cell phone usage. I applaud him in this endeavor, but I also think that students must be made formally aware of the influence of social media. 


Social Media or COVID: Which is more dangerous to students?

Not a surprise that student use of social media is way up since remote learning became de rigeur in learning. Social media limits users to 13+ but doesn’t monitor that. What could sober education’s on-going concern about the dangers of COVID is the booming number of arrests of students for misuse of social media. My conclusion: We aren’t teaching enough about the proper use of social media platforms and the danger of cyberbullying.

Read this article from DA District Administration and see if you agree:

Student behavior on social media is now a bigger threat than COVID

by Matt Zalaznick

Though the threats appear unfounded, they are closing classrooms and raising anxiety as schools are trying to find some send of normalcy.

Read More>>

More from Ask a Tech Teacher on social media:


Instagram: A Student Vehicle for Social Change

From Ask a Tech Teacher contributor, retired teacher and education consultant, Christian Miraglia:

Instagram: A Student Vehicle for Social Change

In my last post, I wrote about using Twitter for classroom instruction. Here, the focus is how students use social media to advance their causes and concerns. As a history teacher, I emphasized the concept of taking action on social issues to affect change. Having grown up in the sixties and seventies, I saw the civil rights movements and the anti-war movement at their height. These social movements involved a network of people intent on making a change in a world that was deaf to their concerns. The organizing of the various marches was primarily done by word of mouth and using the latest technology; the phone. Tracing back centuries, we see information being transferred by horse and by foot, which could take days, weeks, and even months. 

Entering the third year of the pandemic, we see students marching out from schools in frustration with the inconsistent policies and the lack of voice in decisions affecting their education.  As these became more prevalent over the last month, I was intrigued by how the students organized their walkouts. The method they used their phones was reminiscent of the Arab Spring in the early 2010s. 

From the Wired feed from January 17, 2022, the headline reads Inside the Student-Led Covid Walkouts US high school students are demanding safer classrooms, and they’re mobilizing through group chats, Google Docs, and homespun social media campaigns. In Oakland, students used a shared Google document to start a petition as a vehicle to address inequities and health concerns of their education. Not only did the students use the document, but they also had to manage the settings to assure that it would extend beyond a few students so they could demonstrate a united front. 

Because the students also are pretty adept at using social media, platforms such as Instagram were an easy go-to.  What seemed to be a local movement soon spread across the nation to Boston, New York, and Denver. Just glancing at the Instagram feed organized by New York students, one can see over 4800 followers, some of which were parents. This feed is unique because it has an update button, essential links, Q&A, and a thank you button, all of which are part of the Instagram story feature. Even more remarkable in the nycstudentwalkout2022 feed is how the students organized their resources to make an understandable and navigable platform to spread the word about the walkouts. As a history teacher who demanded the sourcing of claims made in classwork, I felt the nycstudentwalkout2022 group put together an exemplary of sources related to their health concerns. 


Classroom Travels with Twitter: An Evolution

Most teachers I know have used Twitter in their classes either to communicate with parents, share homework with students, for group study, to research on a topic, crowd source ideas with colleagues, or a myriad of other purposes (click here for more ideas). Ask a Tech Teacher contributor Christian Miraglia, Educational Consultant for T4Edtech, reminds us that how we used it at first is probably not how we use it now:

I Need an Idea, and I Need it Now!

You may remember the JG Wentworth commercial in which frantic customers shout out, “ I need my money, and I need it now!”. I sometimes lacked a plan as a teacher due to an overloaded schedule or mental exhaustion.  “I need a lesson idea, and I need it now!”  Where did I turn? Twitter. The social media platform became a resource when I was running on empty. Twitter as a classroom resource, you ask? Over the past two decades, Twitter has been a mainstay in my instruction. 

How many followers do you have?

I began using Twitter in my classroom soon after its introduction in 2006. I found creative uses for it in my history teaching, even at that time. One group of students created a conversation between Andrew Jackson and the various Native American groups forcibly relocated to the Indian Territory. The discussion was based on the research of primary and secondary documents and was quite creative. Nowadays, there are so many social media platforms that it can be overwhelming to keep track of for teachers. When my students would ask me how many followers I had on my Facebook account and Twitter, I stated I did not know. “Two hundred, three hundred one thousand,” they probed. I would note I had no idea on my Facebook account, but maybe 500 on my Twitter account, and most of them are teachers. 


Tech Tip ##113: Backup Your Blog

tech tipsIn these 169 tech-centric situations, you get an overview of pedagogy—the tech topics most important to your teaching—as well as practical strategies to address most classroom tech situations, how to scaffold these to learning, and where they provide the subtext to daily tech-infused education.

Today’s tip: Backup Your Blog

Category: Maintenance, Social Media, Writing, Problem-solving

Q: I’m paranoid of losing my documents so I back them up to an external drive, a flash drive, and in the cloud. My blog–it’s become an important cog in my PLN. If it blew up, I’d be lost. What do I do about backing it up?

world backup dayA: If you use WordPress, it’s easy; they provide a native tool for that. Here’s what you do:

  • Go to Tools>Export.
  • Select the bubble for ‘all’.
  • It’ll back document files up as an XML file (you don’t have to understand what that is. Just know it’s the file that will save you if Wordpress crashes).
  • Save that backup file somewhere safe in case you need it. Preferably where your Cloud automatic backup will grab it (assuming you have one of those. If you use Carbonite, you do).
  • Do this once a month–or a week if you’re active.

This will backup posts, pages, comments, categories, and tags. For the entirety of the blog–similar to an image where you can restore the entire website–you’ll need an external service. My blog is hosted by GoDaddy. Part of that service is a backup of the blog. It’s worth it to me to pay a bit extra for that function.

World Backup Day just passed. Mark your calendar for next year, March 31st, and be sure to perform all backups–your blog and everything else–on that day.

Sign up for a new tip each week or buy the entire 169 Real-world Ways to Put Tech into Your Classroom.

What’s your favorite tech tip in your classroom? Share it in the comments below.


What’s all the buzz about Messenger Kids?

When preteen kids see parents and older siblings thumbing away at social media accounts, they want to do it. They don’t understand when told they are too young. There have been a few efforts to extend social communication tools to younger kids but mostly, kids don’t like them so end up on apps designed for teens or adults, like Snapchat or Instagram.

Until the iconic Facebook platform came up with what they call Messenger Kids.

What is Messenger Kids

Messenger Kids is a free video calling and messaging app designed for kids under thirteen to connect with others from their tablet or smartphone. These are the kids who love digitally chatting on parent cellphones (or other digital devices) but aren’t old enough for the nuances and maturity required of popular 13+ messaging platforms. Messenger Kids provides them with a safe, free environment to chat with friends who have moved away, stay in touch with family who doesn’t live nearby, and get questions answered by parents they aren’t with at the moment.

Here’s what it’s not. First and foremost:

Messenger Kids is not a social media app. It is a messaging app.

Here’s a peak into the app:


professional learning network

Social Media Trends you Need to Be Aware of this School Year

Have you heard of the wildly-popular Netflix series, 13 Reasons Why, dramatizing a teenager’s thirteen reasons for committing suicide? Though it warns watchers about what can cause teens to take their lives, to everyone’s surprise, suicides in that age group went up by 30% in the immediate months following the release.

No one knows why a movie dramatizing teen suicide increased them but it did shine a bright light on the problem of teenagers, gossip, culture, and ultimately social media. Here are two statistics that may shock you:

95% of teens have access to a smartphone

45% of teens say they are online “almost constantly”

Do they have time for anything else? And what are they doing with all that time?

I can’t help with the first question but the second one, I know. I dug into the research — anecdotal and statistical — to find out which social media platforms have so engrossed teens that they barely want to sleep, eat, or watch TV (too much TV — now there’s a quaint problem). Why the mix of anecdotal and statistics? Because teen interests change on a whim. What was hot (like Facebook and Twitter) one year is no more. As a result, I used quantitative data balanced against anecdotal experience.

Let me start by confirming: Yes, the news that kids are no longer in love with Facebook seems to be true. They still use it but precipitously less each year and the number of teen users is behind many other popular social media platforms (like YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat). Kids have their own methods of chatting, staying up to date, and sharing media with friends, ones that their parents didn’t introduce them to.

Before I share what’s trending among teens, I need to remind readers that most require users to be 13+ to create an account (that’s High School age). But no one verifies that nor does it prevent adults from signing up and then turning access over to the child. It’s the honor system, which works or doesn’t.

Here are the top social media trends kids now use in alphabetic order:


Make your LMS a social learning platform

Vivek Singh, education professional and contributor to Ask a Tech Teacher, has some interesting ideas on using your native LMS as a social learning platform.  He has some great thoughts on breakout rooms, discussion forums, virtual reality, and gamifying lessons. I know you’ll enjoy their thoughts:

Earliest forms of learning, dating back to the stone-age, involved storyboarding one’s experiences on rocks. These photo-stories would prove as a valuable resource for generations to come. Education, thus, has its roots in the earliest social interactions. One of the fundamental qualities that ensured our survival is collaboration through knowledge sharing, imitation and behavior modeling.

Little has changed in today’s space-age. We inadvertently learn from our daily social interactions, with most of our informal learning happens through online sources of information. For example, YouTube, social media, news websites, even self-help videos/blogs which are present in every possible genre. This way of learning is attributed to the advent of the internet which has impacted the adoption of online learning software to facilitate formal education. LMSs are now being accepted as one of the ways to learn smartly.  Taking note of the importance of social learning, some LMSs have begun to add features to promote social learning, for those students who are studying online. Learning Management System features that support social interactions amongst students, enhance the learning outcomes for any given online module or course.

What makes your LMS a social learning platform?

Features and activities that enable collaboration among learners could be implemented in the form of chat-boxes, discussion forums, live interactive sessions supporting real-time data sharing capabilities, and many more. Here are some critical features that can essentially leverage an LMS to become social in the true sense.


summer learning

How to Blend Learning with Play for a Kid-friendly Summer

summer learningWith summer fast approaching all over the Northern Hemisphere, kids are eager for time away from teachers, textbooks, and To-do lists. In Ireland, Italy, Greece, Russia, and other Eurasian nations, summer vacation lasts about three months. In Australia, Britain, The Netherlands, Canada, and Germany, it’s six to eight weeks. American students get roughly ten weeks.

While kids celebrate, teachers and parents worry students will lose their academic edge. It turns out that concern is valid. Statistics say over the summer, kids lose over two months of math skills, two months of reading skills, and one month of overall learning. Efforts to prevent summer learning loss propel often-unpopular year-round school initiatives and all manner of summer school and summer camps that focus on cerebral topics.

Worry no more. The cure is much simpler: Disguise learning as play. Using the websites below, kids will think they’re playing games while actually engaging in the leading [mostly] free games and simulations in the education field.

A note: some must be downloaded and a few purchased, so the link provided might take you to a website that provides access rather than play.


Here are two gamified options that can be tweaked to address any topic:

  • Digital Breakouts — Players of all ages use teamwork and critical thinking to solve a series of challenging puzzles that ultimately enable them to achieve a goal. Digital Breakouts are an update to the traditional and popular webquests that have students explore the web as they gather content in a particular field — history, math, literacy, or others. A great collection of free, ready-made digital breakouts can be found over at Tom’s Digital Breakouts. These don’t have to be played online; for a fee, students can play unplugged.
  • Flash cards — apps like the free Brainscape provide topical flash cards kids can memorize in between the rest of summer stuff. You might even provide badges for the lists students finish.

Financial Literacy

Summer is a great time to learn topics that require dedicated periods of time — like a financial literacy program. These are important for high schoolers, but often not required for graduation. That means many students transition to that almost-adult point in their life where they need to understand credit cards, bank accounts, paying bills, and other financial concepts but have no real knowledge of how these work.

Here are a few sites that gamify financial literacy topics and can be completed over the summer:

  • Banzai – online free comprehensive financial literacy program
  • You are here – kids learn to be smart consumers