Can Social Media Be a Tool for Learning and Growth in Schools?

Can Social Media Be a Tool for Learning and Growth in Schools?

Find all our Student Opinion questions here.

How does your school view social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and TikTok? Does it have its own social media accounts? Do teachers and staff use any of these popular apps to engage with students in the classroom or in after-school clubs?

Do you think social media provides opportunities for learning and growth? Or are these apps at best just entertainment and distractions from school, and at worst, places for gossip, bullying and misinformation?

In “High Schools to TikTok: We’re Catching Feelings,” Taylor Lorenz writes about how the app TikTok is getting the stamp of approval in some schools:

WINTER GARDEN, Fla. — On the wall of a classroom that is home to the West Orange High School TikTok club, large loopy words are scrawled across a whiteboard: “Wanna be TikTok famous? Join TikTok club.”

It’s working. “There’s a lot of TikTok-famous kids at our school,” said Amanda DiCastro, who is 14 and a freshman. “Probably 20 people have gotten famous off random things.”

The school is on a quiet palm-tree-lined street in a town just outside Orlando. A hallway by the principal’s office is busy with blue plaques honoring the school’s A.P. Scholars. Its choir director, Jeffery Redding, won the 2019 Grammy Music Educator Award.

Amanda was referring to a different kind of stardom: on TikTok, a social media app where users post short funny videos, usually set to music, that is enjoying a surge in popularity among teenagers around the world and has been downloaded 1.4 billion times, according to SensorTower.

The embrace of the app at this school is mirrored on scattered campuses across the United States, where students are forming TikTok clubs to dance, sing and perform skits for the app — essentially drama clubs for the digital age, but with the potential to reach huge audiences.

And unlike other social media networks, TikTok is winning over some educators, like Michael Callahan, a teacher at West Orange, who had never heard of TikTok before the students told him about it.

He is an adviser to the school’s club and said he loves how the app brings students from different friend groups together. “You see a lot more teamwork and camaraderie,” he said, “and less — I don’t want to say bullying — but focus on individuals.”

In many of the videos on the app, which are 15 seconds to a minute long, school hallways, classrooms and courtyards serve as a recurrent backdrop. And if kids aren’t filming themselves at school, they’re making jokes about school. One popular meme on the app mocks the class of 2023 (freshmen this year) for being cringey and trying too hard.

Students, read the entire article, then tell us:

  • Does your school see social media as a tool for learning? Share how your school and teachers use social media as part of the education process?

  • Should schools and teachers take better advantage of social media to engage with students? Do you wish your school did? Or should the two worlds remain separate — for everyone’s sake?

  • Are you familiar with TikTok, the app discussed in the article. What’s your take on it? The reporter states that “teachers at many schools say they view TikTok culture as a net positive.” What do you think?

  • Do you have any suggestions for how your school could use social media like TikTok to promote student learning and growth? Please share.

Students 13 and older are invited to comment. All comments are moderated by the Learning Network staff, but please keep in mind that once your comment is accepted, it will be made public.