Social Media in the EFL Classroom

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Roxane Gay wrote that “Social media is something of a double-edged sword. At its best, social media offers unprecedented opportunities for marginalized people to speak and bring much-needed attention to the issues they face.”  Gay also added that “At its worst, social media also offers ‘everyone’ an unprecedented opportunity to share in collective outrage without reflection.” (2017) This insightful quote became the heart of the workshop named “Social media in the EFL classroom.”

Gay’s assertion, Prince EA’s YouTube video “Can we autocorrect humanity?”, The online interactive presentation and assessment tool “Nearpod,” Teachers’ insights on the use of Facebook, and some memes were the elements that harmonically intertwined to get participants actively involved in the development of the workshop. Our primary objective was to have teachers design an interactive class that promoted critical thinking and problem-solving skills among students by analyzing social issues identified in social media. It pursued to explore the use of social media tools for educational purposes while using real-life situations to discuss, present, and come up with brilliant solutions.

The scaffolding of the workshop made it possible for the trainers to model a class in which teachers had the opportunity to experience the process of moving from LOTS to HOTS; by playing the role of the students and analyzing the methodological foundations underlying every single step of the lesson.

First, we activated schemata by having teachers mention some of the different uses they give to the social network Facebook. Then, as a second step, trainees watched a YouTube video by Prince EA called “Can we autocorrect humanity?” which states that Facebook is an “Anti-Social network” that controls us and isolates us. Third, we introduced the use of Nearpod as a critical vehicle for online interaction and collaboration. In this stage, participants were to take a Likert scale survey on their level of agreement or disagreement with the video message. Unsurprisingly, the short discussion along with the content of the video led participants to conclude that educators do not take full advantage of social networks such as Facebook, a potent tool with an unimaginable definite scope.

Clay Shirky said that “Our social tools are not an improvement to modern society, they are a challenge to it.” (2017) Thus the presenters of this workshop decided to take the challenge and give Facebook a good use for educational purposes. So as a fourth step, there was room to review the most common social issues overwhelming our modern world. The application of Nearpod’s electronic board was essential to share opinions at this stage. By doing this, participants had the chance to take the first step in a LOTS to HOTS lesson, identifying the problem.

Once the extent of the problem was clear, the participants concluded that paying attention to such problems and using social media as an academic tool are significant and meaningful ways to promote the development of innovation 21st-century skills; especially communication, teamwork, critical thinking, creativity, and problem-solving.

After all the presentation, review of concepts, and theories, it was time for participants to design a class departing from a meme. Teachers formed groups of three and developed a lesson using the analysis of memes. Each group received a different meme reflecting, implicitly or explicitly, a social issue. Their task was to create an activity in which students moved from HOTS to LOTS from identifying a problem, generating discussion, to finally coming up with a solution. The results were terrific. Teachers came up with very original ideas that can surely make their students fall in love both with their classes and with the proposal of using social media in a less superficial but meaningful way. One that is far from just entertaining them might as well help them grow socially and intellectually while practicing their English.

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