Social media is a large part of most students’ lives. It consumes a huge chunk of their day and can often be a distraction in the classroom, so why not utilise this distraction and engage with it to use it to your advantage? This essay will investigate how to use this snappy app within education, the benefits of doing so and the drawbacks of using the app in an educational capacity. It will also look at the issue of plagiarism and copyright issues as well as demonstrating knowledge of digital literacies.
Using social media in education is a fairly new concept but one that is rapidly becoming more common. It is a well- known fact that the majority of people use social medias such as Facebook and Instagram but Snapchat is a media that is used mainly by the younger generations of society. Snapchat is usually used to send funny pictures of yourself to your friends and keep up to date with the daily activities of celebrities but its features can be adapted to be used as a tool for education. Ten seconds may not sound like long enough to engage a student but if used properly, it can be. Snapchat can have a variety of different uses within the classroom and out of it too. Matt Miller has fifteen ways that Snapchat can be used by teachers to engage students. Stories play a big part in his fifteen uses, this is because these can be viewed as many times as a follower would like in the twenty- four- hour period they are available. The story function allows the creator of the story to add snaps throughout the day, as well as pictures or videos from their camera roll. This means that educators can add content that has just happened as well as other content that they have already found. Another function that can be used is the drawing and captioning function. This means that educators can add text to their pictures to provide more information if needed. Miller lists many other ways that Snapchat can be used in the classroom, including adding Snaps to your story before lesson that can provoke thought ready for the lesson and short videos to reiterate important points after lesson. Snapchats can also be screenshotted by the viewer if they wish to keep it, this would be especially useful if the snapchat had important information on it that could come in useful another time. (Miller, 2016). Snapchat is a platform that students are used to and enjoy using, it is important not to make it so educational that the students begin to not want to use it but as Ashley Bailey points out, it is something that students would like to see. It is also very accessible. Anybody with access to a smartphone or tablet can use Snapchat, a main difference between Snapchat and other social medias such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter is that in order for students to engage with the content, the student does not have to be followed back by the educational account and there is no link to any other personal information. The student can see all stories without the educational account seeing what they post (Bailey, 2015). If the settings on the educational account allow for it, the students can also send their responses to the educational account.
Of course there are drawbacks for using Snapchat in education, the main one being the level of appropriateness. Snapchat is a social media that is intended for use for fun and keeping in touch with friends, it needs to be considered whether education has a place here. There is a possibility of students being bombarded with content to the point where they no longer wish to check it anymore. It must also be considered whether the content posted is appropriate. Educators may want to add amusing selfies or insights into their home lives on the snapchats, it must be carefully decided whether this the right thing to do. Snapchat and all social media is an informal platform for education, however, there must be a boundary on how informally it is treated. Another issue is privacy. By including both teachers and students, the boundaries are being blurred. Snapchat does allow content to be shared to followers without being mutual followers, this means that students can see the educational snapchats without the educational snapchat account being able to see what the students post on their stories. This means that students maintain their privacy and if educators are mindful of what they post, they can also maintain their privacy. Miller suggests creating a Snapchat account that will be purely used for the educational snaps and is completely separate from any personal accounts (Miller, 2016). Students should also, in a lot of cases, be discouraged from checking their phones during class time. By using Snapchat as an educational platform, some may see it as encouraging this behaviour, even if it was intended to be used out of class only. This a problem that Michael Britt faced, he overcame this issue by banning the use of Snapchat in his classroom and only posting on it out of class time. This takes the need for phones to be checked in class time for educational purposes away so normal discipline can still be maintained. It is also important to realise that Snapchat cannot be used by all students, for example in a primary school as it is not an appropriate application and certain restrictions from the school may stop it being able to be used.
There are also lots of positives to using Snapchat in an educational capacity. One of the main pros is its accessibility. Majority of students will already have Snapchat installed on their phone and if not, it is a free app to download. This allows any students who want to follow the educational account to follow it with ease, either by searching for the user name or using the snap code. Students can also unfollow and follow whenever they feel like it, allowing them to feel in control and not like it is being forced upon them. These educational snapchats will work best if they are not compulsory to follow. If students are forced to watch the snaps, it will become like work and they may not want to engage with them if it is not their choice. Using Snapchat to respond to questions which have been asked by students is also great, it allows a personalised response which is a much better than a written email, by adding that 10 second video to your story, not only do you answer the question, it also allows the student to really get a sense of what you mean by seeing your facial expressions and hearing how you emphasise certain words (Zhang, 2016). It is also more likely that a student will check snapchat before they check their emails so it is a more instant way for getting your answer across (Juliani, 2016). It can also be used in the same way as flash cards, by adding snaps to the story and having them disappear after 10 seconds, they act like looking briefly at a flashcard then turning it away to see if you can recall the information (Miller, 2016).
Plagiarism and copyright issues are very important in all aspects of academic writing; it is essential to make sure that any piece of writing is not plagiarising another piece. Plagiarism is defined as ‘The practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own’ (The Oxford Dictonary, 2017). This may not be done intentionally however; it is quite easy to accidentally plagiarise somebody’s work if you have not referenced the text correctly or if you genuinely did compile the same words in the same order as somebody else. Whereas plagiarism is all about copying written work, copyright issues are far more widespread. This applies to using other people’s media, such as their photos, extracts of their books or videos, without their permission. Other people’s media may be used for research purposes so this means that if proper recognition is given and it is deemed to be fair usage, it may be used for educational purposes (Services, UK Copyright, 2016).
Digital literacies are defined as having the ability ‘to find, evaluate, utilize, share, and create content using information technologies and the Internet’ (Cornell University, 2009). This means being able to use the internet and other technology to your advantage and to get the most out of them. Being able to use your digital literacies are very important currently as technology is a huge part of everybody’s lives, especially regarding technology. Using Snapchat for an educational purpose shows that educators are becoming increasingly digital literate as it shows they have found the technology, evaluated its uses, utilised the functions it offers and can create content to share with their students.
There are many issues surrounding the use of snapchat as an educational tool but I believe with the correct planning and with enough consideration, the majority of these issues can be overcome and Snapchat can be used to its full potential as an educational aid. It is an idea that is still relatively new but could one day become the norm within schools. Plagiarism and copy right issues will continue to be an issue throughout all education, especially as people become more digitally literate and use the internet to compose their essays. The temptation to copy and paste will be large but with the correct knowledge and use of referencing, this can be embraced.
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