4 Ideas for Using Snapchat in your Classroom!

Is it sustainable to use this hugely popular messaging app in your classroom?

With 71% of users under the age of 34, why wouldn’t you at least try it?

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For those of you that aren’t aware, Snapchat is a messaging app that allows users to send and receive messages directly from each other, then disappear once viewed (see How it Works here). Additionally, Snapchat offers users the ability to create stories that can be seen by any follower for 24 hours.

So why on earth would you want to integrate Snapchat into your classroom you ask?

It’s simple.

To communicate and connect with your students in their preferred digital environments.

You’ll want to consider a few things first before you decide if Snapchat is a good fit in your classroom.

  1. Do you want to communicate using chat? Or using stories?
  2. What are the media messaging restrictions in your respective school boards?
  3. What parameters are you working within?

Snapchat Stories 

Stories provide a way for teachers to communicate content and allow students to access this information on their schedule.

Snapchat allows you to send a sequence of short “snaps” of video or images with the addition of text, bitmojis, drawings and geofilters, but instead of directing these to a particular group or individual, stories are published for your follower audience and are available for 24 hours. After the 24 hours, they expire, so students would have to explicitly follow the classroom or teacher and review the feed frequently to see the content.

An example of use would be for a teacher to post content when on a field trip such as sharing a series of videos and images from experience (Sloan, 2016). In higher ed or with older students the teacher could allow takeovers of the account and could be an excellent way to teach digital citizenship. Once parameters are set up, students have the ability to use the school account and engage with the community creatively.

Teachers can send snaps to students in groups to share reminders, congratulate or acknowledge successes and to describe real-world examples by posting images or videos with text overlay. In higher ed teachers will likely have more progressive policies.

Snapchat Messaging

Snapchat messaging is a user-directed way to communicate and may not be suitable for primary age communication (see Snapchat Terms of Service). Once you have determined the connection options, you can then determine which features of Snapchat you will use.

Students must follow the school or classroom and vice-versa to send images and video to each other. For older students, this can be a very engaging way to communicate with teachers and schools. For primary students (13 and older) this may not be available depending on school district privacy policies.

 

Classroom Content Sharing

One way for teachers to create relationships with their students is by connecting with them on digital media. Social media should not be forced on students, however, for those students who do use Snapchat this is a good way to share knowledge in an engaging way (Miller, 2016). Teachers can demonstrate how to use social media appropriately by modeling proper communication use with their accounts. When teachers use Snapchat to create a story related to the content in class, students may be more open to sharing their perceptions and interpretations of knowledge. Because the snaps expire quickly, you can be sure your students are paying attention to the content. The best way to approach this may be to provide your students your account info so they can follow you, as suggested by Madeline Will (Will, 2016). Madeline suggests you simply post stories and allow students to follow you, but to avoid encroaching on their personal profiles you would not follow students back. 

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Give Students a Rich Media Experience

It’s 7 am, and your students have an exam in 2 hours, some are just waking up, some are on the bus to school, and some are in the front seat of their Dads truck. Either way, they’re likely on their smartphones. What if you were on your phone too…sending snaps of questions and mini quiz content to get them pumped up for their test? Perhaps your students are learning a new language, why not have them take pictures of items and share the name of that object in the language they’re studying? Students and teachers can practice vocabulary and use images to define and demonstrate terminology learned in class (Lee, 2016). All of these are examples of how you can use Snapchat to create a rich media experience for your students. You can’t guarantee that all your students will view your snaps and stories, and you shouldn’t force them to, but for those interested in extending their learning into this medium, why not make it fun!

Do you use social media to communicate in your classrooms? If so, have you tried using Snapchat yet?

We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences below.


Additional Reading 

  1. Does Snapchat have a place in the classroom
    http://blog.learningsciences.com/2015/06/23/does-snapchat-have-a-place-in-the-classroom-social-media-for-teachers/
  2. 3 Ways Snapchat can help schools engage with students
    http://crescerance.com/3-ways-snapchat-can-help-schools-engage-with-students/
  3. Teachers are starting to use Snapchat are you?
    http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/teaching_now/2016/06/teachers_snapchat_guide.html

References

Lee, J. (2016). 10 Seconds At A Time, A Teacher Tries Snapchat To Engage Students. NPR.org. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2016/03/29/467091289/how-teachers-are-using-snapchat

Will, M. (2016). Teachers Are Starting to Use Snapchat. Should You?. Education Week – Teaching Now. Retrieved from http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/teaching_now/2016/06/teachers_snapchat_guide.html

Sloan, C. (2016). It’s Time to Consider Snapchat’s Classroom Potential. KQED Learning. Retrieved 25 February 2017, from https://ww2.kqed.org/learning/2016/05/25/its-time-to-consider-snapchats-classroom-potential/

14 thoughts on “4 Ideas for Using Snapchat in your Classroom!”

  1. Hi Shannon, interesting post. With all edtech I like to look at individual apps through as many lenses as possible. The educator in me loves the idea of having students take over the teacher or class account for a day, what a great way to teach digital responsibility (citizenship). The administrator side of me sees things a little bit more pessimistically though and my mind jumps right to cyber bullying and harassment. With messages disappearing after being viewed this gives bullies all kinds of deniability and unless the matter is serious enough to take to a criminal level I would suspect any kind of user and activity logs would be impossible to obtain from Snapchat’s servers. Do the negatives outweigh the positives with Snapchat? For me I would probably couple a few tools together like YouTube, class website/blog, Instagram and Twitter to accomplish classroom tasks instead of using Snapchat. There is something to be said for using tech tools that your students are using, but for me the disappearing messages feature opens up a huge avenue for potential misuse.

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    1. I can agree that students may misuse due to messages disappearing, but users have to mutually follow their friends, and if they decide to follow each other than I would guess they are permitting the messages. It’s when they post stories and have settings adjusted for every one of their followers to see that cyberbullying could potentially happen. I do think the expiration of content on Snapchat is a positive benefit of using and integrating into your classroom for the purposes of engagement and attention.

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    2. Hi Shannon,

      Great post about the introduction of new technologies into pedagogy. I love it when teachers are able to use technology to connect with students. However, I’d like to see more examples of “real-world” educational application of Snapchat in pedagogy. Also, I struggle with all of the different applications and technologies that are out there. Do teachers really have to embrace these popular technologies to connect with there students? Could something else be accessed that is more effective for building positive experiences (facilitating learning) around technology? Are students using it for educational purposes in their everyday lives?

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      1. Thanks for the comment 🙂
        I don’t think it’s always necessary for teachers to use the same technology, but it does help when both are familiar with them and can engage in a commonly preferred space.
        Some impressive user stats here: http://variety.com/2016/data/news/snapchat-content-survey-how-much-millennials-actually-use-live-stories-discover-and-more-1201736616/

        Almost 50% of users are going to Snapchat Discover Stories for their information on current events and news (I suspect this is due to the condensed or truncated versions of the stories and the fact that they don’t come with dense text, a perk that helped Twitter catapult in this area when it first launched)

        I see this type of data informative when determining how to integrate into the curriculum and the classroom.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Shannon,
    What an interesting post! Snapchat certainly is a popular and user-friendly application that can be installed on a variety of mobile platforms. I have not personally seen it used in a classroom setting, however I know that our school now has an account that is actively being used. Personally, I am not convinced that I would find a lot of use from Snapchat in a secondary math context. I much prefer Twitter (which I am told is not popular by students) due to the way images or conversations can be linked by a hashtag, and the fact that posts do not disappear after a given amount of time. I do like your examples of using it for language or sending real-world applications to students. I could see this being useful.

    This past summer in EDUC 5199 Teaching & Learning with Mobile Technology course, Katina, Ellen and myself created a website that outlines information on social media integration within an educational setting. We evaluated three social media platforms (Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat) using Professor Rob Power’s CSAM framework. Here is a link: http://collaborativemobilelearningapps.weebly.com/social-media.html

    Thanks for touching on Snapchat Shannon! I am always interested to see how other educators are using social media platforms to enhance their teaching practice.
    Brandon

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    1. Great project, I took a look at your site and love the idea of embedding the Snapcode into a class website to encourage the continuation of learning into an environment that doesn’t specifically duplicate what was covered.
      I am curious, who in the school is currently managing the Snapchat account? Are students being invited to use to cover special events, extracurriculars or other school-specific content for community engagement purposes? Has your school created a geofitler yet?

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  3. Hi Shannon,

    What a great post! I have never thought that SnapChat would be reasonable nevermind effective in the classroom. I have never heard of using SnapChat in the classroom but, I love the idea of being able to send mini quizzes to students before a test. This could even be effective weeks leading up to the test or a final exam. It certainly seems as if it would reinforce learning. I feel that SnapChat could be useful in promoting the pedagogical strategy of retrieval practice (how you mention the language learning) in a flash card type of way.
    I have a few questions on the use of SnapChat (I am NOT a snapper!). You mention that students have to follow the teacher or the classroom. I would imagine in this instance the teacher would just make an account for their classroom, but does SnapChat have an option to create groups? For instance, are students able to join/follow the classroom and then the teacher can create groups for them within the SnapChat Classroom? or is it strictly able to present stories to a private group?

    I am also wondering about privacy issues? I assume that when you talk about the teacher posting to the SnapClass?? (can we call it this!) you are talking about items that are not private and or sensitive in nature, but does this bring us to a deeper conversation about the training and support of our teachers to ensure that they are aware of the policies that the board holds and the policies of SnapChat?

    Thank you for your insight!

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    1. Great questions!
      To answer your questions in order:
      – Yes you can create a special account for your class or a teacher profile (separate email required) this can be additional to your personal account
      – Yes you can create a snap group, either when you have created the snap or in advance of creating the snap
      – Teachers can create groups to send messages to, but this would be for using the messaging or “chat” feature not the “stories” feature
      – Using groups would be the only way to send a private class message, a story is published to your profile for all to view, this is for anyone who may follow you
      – The posts would have to consider privacy and suggestions for use were not to carry on conversations privately outside of class or school but a tool for engaging students and reviewing content covered in class
      – Definitely there would have to be some user guidelines created for any social media to be use in a school either through the boards or districts or the school specifically

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      1. Thanks Shannon!
        Great to know that groups can be created and the classroom has the ability to separate from a personal account.
        Thank you so much for the information !

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      2. But I have to follow the student to put them in a group, yes? I’m confused. I want to communicate with a class of students who choose to follow me on Snapchat. But I can only put them in a group if I follow them? Please help me clear up my confusion! I’ve asked Google too but can’t find the answer. Thanks!

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      3. I don’t know. I’m not clear on what you are trying to do. In general, snap chat is a tricky tool to use in the classroom, largely because students don’t want you to follow them and nor do they want to follow their teacher. This is a personal/social tool that students use among their peers and the very last thing they want is for an adult to be mucking around in there. So students have to create new snap chat accounts only for school. So everyone has to follow everyone. This advice seems pretty clear: https://support.snapchat.com/en-US/article/create-group as is this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dHlqYpqgOgs

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  4. Dear Shannon,

    What an interesting post! I am an educational technology specialist and I could not convince myself in using Snapchat. I seem to find replacements instead. The ideas about using photos of objects for teaching new vocabulary and sending snaps of questions are great examples. Nevertheless, I also think it is a big burden and responsibility for the teacher as well. Can you schedule your snaps so that they are published at a certain time of the day? How do you manage the appropriate timing? Could you also use this for peer teaching? Could you ask the students to teach a concept and post it as a story in the group? However, this would mean for the teacher to check on the snaps every day and correspond with new snaps as feedback! The idea makes me think that it could be engaging for students but I am not sure if it would be very effective for the teachers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comment! I can agree that time wise using Snapchat could be cumbersome for some teachers. I have been reading a bit lately on “microlearning” and I specifically think Snapchat (the way people use and why they use it) and the adoption of microlearning are not entirely separate. I do think you could use Snapchat for peer teaching as well and that is an excellent addition to the user profile for Snapchat in education. Student lead activities are where I would like to explore usage further, if it was incorporated into their daily routine it may be very beneficial for retrieval and practice of knowledge outside of class.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Great post Shannon! As someone who does not use Snap Chat, it was very interesting getting your point-of-view on how to meaningfully integrate Snap Chat into the classroom. I think it’s so key as educators to keep up to date with the types of digital technologies students are using. From year to year and even month to month students preferred social media platform can change in an instant. While most of these social media platforms tend to copy-cat and mirror each other in a lot of ways, what matters is that teachers are using the technology that is best going to connect with students. I think I might have to give Snap Chat a try and see if I like it!

    Like

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