Everybody has their go-to social media platform when they want to share something with the world. So where do millennials currently go?
According to a Facebook survey of 13-24 year olds in Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, the UK and the US, they have been quietly fleeing popular Facebook for Instagram. (They aren’t getting all that far from it since Facebook actually acquired Instagram in 2012, but far enough.) In the past five years, Instagram has become the fastest growing major social network, no doubt because of its quickly growing millennial army.
Why Instagram? Partially because millennials don’t want to share Facebook or Twitter with their parents–those people are seriously embarrassing! But also because this generation has grown up in a world of constant connectivity, bombarded with messages since they visited their first website. Images are a fast way to pass along a message that almost instantly connects the user to a feeling, and many brands have found they can successfully connect these feelings to their product or service. Which gives new meaning to the adage: people may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.
So if a picture really is worth a 1,000 words, students have found a way to adapt to our world’s rapid fire messaging pace and absorb more information at once than any generation before. With more than 30 billion pictures shared, Instagram is the happening place for the quick and direct visual literacy the current generation enjoys.
What does this mean for teachers?
It means you should definitely check out this platform as a way to engage students because they might just be pretty excited about it and really pay attention (plus it will make you look totally cool). Instagram is an excellent choice to incorporate into your lesson plans, and if you choose to do so, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Of course you’ll need to lay down some basic ground rules about appropriateness and consequences, but hopefully the idea will be fun enough for all involved that they won’t want to be excluded. This is an excellent way to incorporate lessons on Digital Citizenship (see this great post for more on that).
- It might be best to create a classroom Instagram account that you set to “private” so you can monitor posts and vette all potential followers.
- Definitely check out your school’s technology policies before you begin.
Knowing that (unfortunately) not every classroom has the same access to devices and wifi yet, here are eight ideas to help get your brain fired up on what could work best for where you are:
1. Pop Quiz
Hold “Instagram quizzes” during class. Designate team captains willing to use their smartphone/Instagram account for their team (this will help include anyone in class who might not have either one of these). The teams must work together for answers (challenge them to do so without speaking) to comment on a picture or multiple pictures you post to Instagram with one of the following:
- Ask a question about the picture and how it relates to what you are studying; points rewarded for using key vocabulary and/or concepts discussed.
- Reveal just a piece of a picture or an extreme closeup and ask teams to identify what it is and why you chose it.
- As admin on the account, you can hold all comments until the end of class to ensure no cheating between teams.
2.Where In the World?
Host a photo campaign asking your students to post Instagram images to their own accounts while they’re out in the world that tie into what you are studying. Make sure they include the hashtag you create to ensure your search brings it up. Selfies can be encouraged for authenticity.
- Bonus Tip: To keep almost real-time track of this hashtag, enter the following into your favorite feed reader to follow new posts easily: http://instagr.am/tags/[hashtag name]/feed/recent.rss ( [hashtag name] is the name of the hashtag without the leading #).
3. Student of the Week
Invite students to alternate “taking over” your classroom Instagram account and sharing photos from their daily lives. Encourage all students to participate by liking and commenting.
4. What Would Honest Abe Say?
Have students create pretend Instagram posts from famous historical figures on the class account – what would Abe Lincoln post if he’d had Instagram in his day?
5. I Spy
Have students post a photo of something they see every day on the way to school – such as an old house or an interesting tree – and then have them choose someone else’s photo for a creative writing assignment.
6. Showcase Showdown
Post pictures of student work throughout the year, from the first assignment to the last, to show them (and their parents) their progress.
7. Schoolwide School Pride
Instagram doesn’t have to be kept within just one classroom. Hold a photo contest throughout the year that challenges students to show their school pride. From group events to individual efforts, students can submit photos to you via email or text to be posted to Instagram showing how they represent and celebrate their school. At the end of the year, a select group of teachers will judge the top three photos to be included in the school yearbook.
8. Join an Instagram Community
Hashtags and weekly photo challenges keep Instagram going. Use the “Discover” feature to find trending or popular hashtags, and join the fun to push the boundaries outside of traditional classroom walls:
- Head outside to collect materials to make a #MondayMandala nature collage.
- Get down close to capture a #MobileMacro view of the world then head back into the classroom to find out more about what you’ve discovered.
We encourage you to experiment and find what works best for your students and classroom, then share it with us below in the comments. Have any additional Instagram projects you’ve completed, additional ideas for Instagram learning fun or favorite education hashtags you follow on this platform? We’d love to hear more!
For more on social media:
- Teaching Kids to Navigate Social Media? It’s a Matter of Principle
- Kids, Smart Phones, and Social Media: 6 Rules for Success and Safety
- 5 Social Media Must Knows for Every Teacher
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