The social media are very popular with young people. Not surprisingly, many teachers are making more and more room for them in class in order to stimulate the interest of their students. Besides the fact that young people are fond of these technological tools, the fact of disseminating to a large audience would push them to put more effort into their work. However, they are not the only tools to allow this.
Class on Facebook
A simple way to do it: publish the results of different projects on the school's Facebook page. This is the path taken by St. Mary's English Elementary School, in Longueuil, whose page was created thanks to the contribution of the Mobilys Foundation. “The students know that parents will be looking at the photos and videos at home. They take it very seriously and they are proud, ”says Danielle Laplante, a first year French immersion teacher. The initiative also made it possible to strengthen the link between school and home and pushed parents to become more involved in the education of their children, an important motivating factor for them. Feeding a Facebook page is relatively straightforward, but it does take time. It is not uncommon for Ms. Laplante to devote part of her evenings to uploading documents to the popular social network. Tools required: a computer connected to the Internet, a Facebook account and a camera (photo and video) for the images.
Less popular than Facebook, the microblogging site Twitter is also in the process of carving out a place for itself in the classroom. The twitterature, an expression resulting from the contraction of the words Twitter and literature, was particularly successful among students ofAnnie side, a French teacher aged 5e secondary. She took advantage of young people's strong interest in their cell phones to invite them to do homework on the social network. However, any device with an Internet connection can do the trick. You also need a Twitter account, of course. The young people had to write a text of 140 characters exactly on a predetermined theme. His students were so excited that they began to give themselves challenges such as having the same letter in each word or, on the contrary, avoiding one at all costs or even imposing a word to include in their duty. For students with more difficulties, writing short sentences appeared to be a less daunting task. Many Internet users followed and commented on the experience, and 200 even completed a “homework” at the teacher's invitation!
Contribute to an encyclopedia
Not so long ago, encyclopedias were just big, austere volumes written by specialists. The Internet has come to democratize all of this, in particular with the creation of Wikipedia, a collaborative encyclopedia. Everyone can contribute to its writing. Martin Baron, history teacher at Cégep de l'Abitibi Témiscamingue, has therefore decided to publish the work of its students there as part of the course on the socio-cultural history of indigenous peoples. A similar project could also be carried out with younger students. “I noticed that the students got more involved since they knew that the results of their efforts would be published,” he writes. At the start of the session, it seemed to me that the motivation of the students was similar to what I usually observe. But the closer the publication date got, the greater the motivation and excitement. In my opinion, the students learned to criticize the work of others, but also to criticize themselves. They invested more in their production because of the more specific research requirements. "
All it takes is a computer connected to the Internet. The Wikipedia platform, however, can be off-putting at first. Mr. Baron also had a helping hand from an information and communications technology pedagogical consultant to carry out his project. Wikipedia explains on its website its operation and the procedure to publish articles.
In the blogosphere
Blogging is another way of writing for a larger audience. Platforms like WordPress and Blogger offers to host blogs for free (there are also paid versions where advertising is absent, in particular). A survey carried out with young people from Les Compagnons-de-Cartier school in Quebec, tells us that 93 % of students consider that the blog is an excellent way to practice writing better. Moreover, 64 % admit to making additional efforts in their work, because they know that they will eventually be able to publish them. Finally, all respondents admit to making more efforts to write better on their blog than in their school work! A study carried out with sixth-grade students also showed that blogging helped to maintain motivation throughout the school year.
Each medal has its reverse! Publishing the work publicly also exposes young people to negative comments. Some teachers and students are uncomfortable with this perspective. In fact, two of Annie Côté's students preferred to send their homework by email.
The large advertising presence on social media sites, makes it to be "friends" or not with his students and respect for private life are also other issues that must be addressed.