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Despite Embracing New Technology, 87 Percent of K-12 Educators Have Not Integrated Social Media Into the Classroom

Teachers cite need for social media tools and training, according to University of Phoenix national survey

PHOENIX, Sept. 1, 2015 — Social media is a main form of communication and connection used by today’s students. Despite the expansion of EdTech tools as classroom resources, educators have not warmed to the idea of integrating social platforms as quickly as other types of classroom technology. A University of Phoenix® College of Education survey conducted online by Harris Poll in April among 1,002 U.S. K-12 teachers finds only 13 percent of today’s K-12 teachers have integrated social media into classroom learning, with an overwhelming majority (87 percent) reporting they have not embraced social platforms. Additionally, more teachers are citing a reluctance to incorporate social media into classroom learning than in 2013 (62 percent vs. 55 percent).

Although there is reluctance, opportunities exist for teachers to harness social media’s benefits to help students understand how to use digital platforms to promote learning. Less than half of K-12 educators seem to be aware of the opportunities, with 44 percent stating social media can enhance a student’s educational experience.

“We are living in a rapidly evolving world of digital and social media, and many students are totally immersed and well-versed in these platforms,” said Kathy Cook, dean of educational technology for University of Phoenix College of Education and former K-12 educator. “For teachers to stay current, keep students engaged and promote learning, it is important for teachers to acknowledge the influence of social media and understand how to use it to the benefit of their students.”

Why the digital disconnect?

A lack of tools and training top the list of educator concerns. Almost all (95 percent) of K-12 teachers say they have had some level of training related to integrating technology in the classroom; however, more than half (62 percent) have had minimal or no training in the area of interacting with students and parents through social media. Nearly half (48 percent) of K-12 teachers express the desire to learn more about integrating technology into the classroom.

K-12 teachers raise many concerns, with four-in-five (82 percent) worrying about conflicts that can occur from using social media with their students and/or parents, and more than half (59 percent) stating use of personal tech devices outside the classroom makes it more difficult for students to pay attention in a group setting in the classroom. Twenty percent have also felt intimidated by students’ knowledge/use of technology devices.

“Social media is here to stay, so it is critical to invest in our educators through expanded training,” said Cook.

According to Cook, training extends beyond providing educators tools to integrate social media into the classroom. In addition to being prepared to use social media as a learning tool, teachers also need to be able to teach students to be responsible with their online behavior.

“Despite challenges, tremendous opportunities exist for teachers to play a leadership role in students’ digital lives, helping them learn how to use social media and understand its impact both in and outside the classroom,” added Cook. “It is essential to train teachers in digital citizenship so that they can educate students about preserving their online integrity. One misstep can have ramifications for years to come, including among future employers.”

Tips for teachers in a digital world

As the 2015-16 school year starts, Cook suggests the following additional tips for K-12 teachers to help them integrate social media into their classrooms to supplement school- or district-sponsored resources.

  1. Create student social media guidelines. If your school or district has guidelines for social media use, make sure you and your students understand them completely and are following the guidelines. If your school or district does not currently have guidelines for social media use, consider developing some.
  2. Try “closed” social media sites. Edmodo, TodaysMeet and other sites allow safe and secure social media experiences in a smaller school environment. You can also create private blogs or use sites such as Kidblogs or Edublogs, which limit access and comment abilities.
  3. Connect with other classrooms around the world. Projects such as Global Read Aloud and Skype in the Classroom allow you to connect students in your classroom with other students worldwide.
  4. Connect with experts worldwide. Social media tools can help you bring a variety of experts into your classroom so students can learn directly from people in the field they are studying.  You can search and connect with experts on Twitter, Skype and other social media networks. Many authors and content experts may be willing to conduct a live tweet session with your students during which they can ask questions and get immediate responses.
  5. Involve your class in a social service project. Explore projects online that your students can get involved in to help make the world a better place. Choose2Matter is one global movement that may spark imagination about how social media can be used to help others.
  6. Learn more about social media use in the classroom. Join Twitter or use other social media tools to connect with other teachers and learn about their creative uses of social media. You can also take a class to hone your own social media skills. University of Phoenix offers a two-credit Continuing Teacher Education course (TECH/508) titled Social Media in the Classroom.

To learn more about University of Phoenix College of Education degree programs, visit www.phoenix.edu/education. For information about University of Phoenix programs, including on-time completion rates, the median debt incurred by students who completed the program and other important information, please visit phoenix.edu/programs/gainful-employment.

Survey Methodology

This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of University of Phoenix College of Education between April 14 and April 27, 2015, among 1,002 U.S. teachers aged 18 and older who work full time in education teaching grades K-12. In addition, oversamples of teachers from Arizona (n=101), California (n=207), Florida (n=103), and Colorado (n=100) were also included. A similar survey was conducted between October 7 and 21, 2013, among 1,005 U.S. teachers. This online survey is not based on a probability sample; therefore, no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Heather McLaughlin at heather.mclaughlin@apollo.edu.

About University of Phoenix College of Education

University of Phoenix College of Education has been educating teachers and school administrators for more than 30 years. The College of Education provides bachelor’s and master’s degree programs for individuals who want to become teachers or current educators and administrators seeking advanced degrees to strengthen their professional knowledge. With education programs available throughout most of the U.S., the College of Education has a distinct grasp of the national education picture and priorities for teacher preparation. Faculty members on average bring more than 17 years of professional experience to the classroom. For more information, visit www.phoenix.edu/education.


University of Phoenix is constantly innovating to help working adults move efficiently from education to careers in a rapidly changing world. Flexible schedules, relevant and engaging courses, and interactive learning can help students more effectively pursue career and personal aspirations while balancing their busy lives. As a subsidiary of  Apollo Education Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: APOL), University of Phoenix serves a diverse student population, offering associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs from campuses and learning centers across the U.S. as well as online throughout the world. For more information, visit www.phoenix.edu.