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Using Social Media As A Disruptive Innovation For Virtual Learning

Using Social Media As A Disruptive Innovation
Summary: This article discusses how social media can potentially spark a new educational trend for increasing student engagement in a Virtual Learning Environment.

Social Media And The Need For Disruptive Innovation In Education

Technology has been making subtle shifts in education for decades; however, the global pandemic has created a dire need for disruptive innovation in education. Disruptive innovation, a business term coined by Clayton Christensen, refers to a process by which a product or service takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of a market and then relentlessly moves up market, eventually displacing established competitors.

In education, like other industries, technological advances represent continued opportunities for disruptive innovation, including Learning Management Systems, such as Schoology, Google Classroom, Canvas, Blackboard, etc. Not long ago, these Learning Management Systems were simply an imaginative idea. Today, Learning Management Systems have become mainstream in education and have almost completely eliminated the need for pencil and paper, icons that were once synonymous in education.

Using Social Media Apps To Disrupt The Status Quo

Social media apps, such as TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, can be used to disrupt the status quo of instruction and spark moments of motivation through brilliant ideas of creativity. When viewed through a new perspective, social media provides teachers with new opportunities for increased student engagement in a Virtual Learning Environment. A recent TikTok of a Texas middle school math teacher demonstrating the concept of combining integers grabbed my attention and inspired this article. In the 17-second video clip, the teacher worked out the math example without using words. Instead, there were brief action steps displayed that corresponded to each step. The video clip was created using a popular musical voiceover in the background and has over 1.5 million views. As a math teacher and educational technology advocate, I found the video clip to be highly effective in demonstrating instructional content and equally engaging.

I have also witnessed like-minded educators integrate Facebook and Twitter into their instructional technology toolkit for students to collect data, complete a vocabulary scavenger hunt, and even use tweets to dissect and discuss grammar and writing. In my opinion, these are simply a few examples of trendy teaching techniques that represent educational disruptive innovation through the use of social media as a supporting instructional tool. It is an astonishing thought that instructional sound bits have the potential to reach and engage millions of virtual learners through social media.

By no means should TikToks and Twitter replace structured and strategic instruction. Instead, when used creatively and purposefully, social media platforms can certainly enhance instruction and increase student engagement. Creativity is one of the most amazing byproducts of teaching and learning. More importantly, creativity is often contagious and can be activated through dynamic relationships reciprocated between teacher-to-teacher, teacher-to-student, student-to-teacher, and student-to-student. Integrating social media platforms within a Virtual Learning Environment may potentially provide both teachers and students with a renewed sense of imagination and creativity to propel motivation while simultaneously advancing critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Using Social Media Effectively

As K-12 education begins to dive into virtual learning, using social media trends is definitely a thought worthy of consideration. Even more so given research about lessened student attention span during remote learning. Technology has been established as a strong staple for teaching and learning; however, there is a fine line between finding the right balance of using technology, including social media, to promote high levels of student engagement and continuing to provide high-quality instruction.

Long gone are the days where teachers are the sole gatekeepers of information. Today, the internet and social media provide the gateway to information. The easy access to unlimited information has caused the teachers’ role to shift from being purely teacher-led to increasingly student-led. It is important for teachers to recognize shifting to a facilitator of learning allows technology to be an educational ally when integrated thoughtfully. Facilitating instruction, as opposed to being the primary source of information, fosters student academic ownership, and personalized learning.

The essence of education is about teaching others how to think for themselves. However, the challenge is finding relevant ways to capture and maintain the attention of students who thrive in a multisensory society that encourages instant gratification at a glance. This gap will only continue to widen as K-12 education goes virtual. A mindset of disruptive innovation in education is necessary to compete within the growing mark of virtual learning. Maybe using social media to reach and micro-teach students can provide teachers with a new skillset that may potentially be necessary for virtual learning.