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K-12 Teachers in America Remain Reluctant to Integrate Social Media in the Classroom, Finds University of Phoenix Teacher Survey

By University of Phoenix

Only 14 percent use social media in the classroom and majority are concerned about conflicts

PHOENIX, Aug. 23, 2016 — The majority of Americans engage in social media in some way1, but the one place they may not be experiencing it is in K-12 schools. Nearly nine-in-ten (86 percent) K-12 teachers have not integrated social media into their classrooms and the majority (62 percent), indicate they do not plan to do so, according to a recent University of Phoenix® College of Education survey of teachers nationwide conducted online by Harris Poll.

Despite increasing use and popularity of social platforms outside of the classroom2, these numbers have stayed virtually the same since 2015, and, in fact, teacher use in the classroom has decreased since late 2013, when close to one-in-five (18 percent) indicated they integrated social media into the classroom.

“While there is understandably some hesitancy to incorporate social media into the classroom, there is a wealth of opportunity for teachers to use social media to enhance the student learning experience,” said Kathy Cook, dean of educational technology for University of Phoenix College of Education and former K-12 educator. “The first steps to using social media as an educational tool is acknowledging its impact on the lives of today’s students and teaching them about the importance of digital citizenship. If K-12 students experience social media in a productive environment like the classroom, it can help set the tone for their future usage.”

Forty-five percent of teachers agree that participation in social media with their teachers can enhance a student’s educational experience, according to the survey3. This increases substantially among those who have actually integrated social media in their classrooms with 80 percent of these teachers saying social media can enhance a student’s educational experience4.

Social Media Setbacks
The survey also reveals four-in-five (81 percent) K-12 teachers remain worried about the conflicts that can occur from using social media with their students and/or parents (82 percent agreed in 2015). Only one-in-five (19 percent) teachers5 indicate they are intimated by students’ knowledge/use of technology devices.

“There can be a disconnect for students when the technology they use to learn and communicate in their daily lives is absent from the classroom,” said Cook. “Learning how to effectively leverage social media in a classroom setting can help enhance the experience for students and teachers alike. While many assume the popular consumer social media tools are the only options for educators, there are actually many social tools that are designed for the K-12 environment and that have custom security options.”

Despite low classroom usage, the survey indicates more than four-in-five (83 percent) teachers use social media personally and more than one-third (35 percent) use it professionally to communicate with colleagues, students and parents. Nearly one-third (31 percent) have experienced issues with students and/or parents connecting with them on social media. More than three-quarters of K-12 teachers (76 percent) say parents sometimes use social media to monitor teachers’ work and/or personal lives.

To help address some of the ethical dilemmas teachers face in the classroom environment, including social media, University of Phoenix has integrated ethical decision-making into coursework and offers specific Continuing Education for Teachers courses to help teachers navigate the increasingly social landscape.

Tips to Help Teachers ‘Like’ Social Media for Classroom Use

Cook says integrating social media in the classroom can be challenging for teachers, but also very rewarding. Cook offers the following tips for engaging students in the classroom using social media platforms.

  1. Start small. Start a closed classroom Facebook group and encourage students to post and interact with each other. This is an excellent way for students to incorporate a popular social channel into a learning opportunity. From there, build out lesson plans that involve social media platforms. Other options include starting a topical Twitter feed or requiring students to blog about educational topics.
  2. Create boundaries. Develop guidelines for how you plan to interact with students and parents and communicate it clearly. Set these policies early on and stick to the plan. Having students help develop guidelines can also help them set boundaries in their own personal social media usage.
  3. Be channel agnostic. With so many tools at your disposal, it’s important to focus on what you want to accomplish and then determine the channel. Also, don’t be afraid to engage students in the process of figuring out what is right for the classroom. It can be a great critical thinking exercise and a way to empower students to make choices in their learning experiences.
  4. Continue learning. In today’s changing digital world, it is important for teachers to be equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to perform effectively in the classroom. Continuing education for teachers courses are an option for teachers wanting to educate themselves on the newest technology or how to use social media. University of Phoenix offers a ‘Cyberethics for Educators’ course in which students study digital and ethical-decision making both inside and outside the classroom.
  5. Be Social. Engage with other teachers in social media to learn what they are doing and find great ideas for projects. The more engaged teachers are personally in social media, the easier it can be to understand the implications and limitations for their classrooms.

For general 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 Transferability of credit is at the discretion of the receiving institution. It is the student’s responsibility to confirm whether or not credits earned at University of Phoenix will be accepted by another institution of the student’s choice.

Survey Methodology
This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of University of Phoenix between April 14 and 25, 2016. Respondents included 1,005 U.S. residents employed full-time as teachers in grades K-12 who have at least an undergraduate degree. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Amanda Barchilon at

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

About University of Phoenix
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



3 Survey of 1,005 U.S. full-time employed K-12 teachers who have at least an undergraduate degree conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of University of Phoenix between April 14 and 25, 2016.

4 Ibid.

5 Ibid.