Social Media in Education

For this week’s blog I had 3 mini interviews with three different people within my field. I interviewed Brittany Sutton, Sara Coatney, and Clifford Shawver. Each of these people works at a different school and district. I previously interviewed Brittany Sutton for my first blog entry. So some of the things that we discussed were already discussed in the first blog. In regards to Mrs. Sutton’s background, Mrs. Sutton has worked at Barry Goldwater High School since 2002. This is her first year as an assistant principal on the campus; therefore, she has the perspective of both a teacher and administrator on the campus. During the interview, she reiterated that social media is used to connect to staff, students, and parents/guardians. This is everything from football games, grade updates, and special events that are happening on campus like spirit week. The main avenue for doing this is Facebook. I asked Mrs. Sutton why Facebook is utilized over other sites like Youtube or Twitter. She said that Twitter was utilized in the past, but that Facebook basically took care of what Twitter is able to accomplish. She said that e-mail is used sometimes, but not too much because this generation doesn’t use e-mail that much anymore.

hate mail

This relates to Smith’s comment when she said, “How often do they use e-mail? Not very. Why? It’s too slow. They have to sift through too much information, including spam. They prefer mobile and real-time communications—texting and Facebook. So what does that mean for the workplace? We need to answer that question today, not tomorrow” (Smith). The goal is to communicate to with students and parents/guardians as effectively as possible. She noted that parents generally do prefer e-mail, but when it comes to communicating with students Facebook has generally been the best avenue. Youtube has never been something that is applicable to the campus’s form of communication.

The second person that I interviewed was Sara Coatney. Mrs. Coatney has been teaching 8th grade math for the Peoria Unified School District for 14 years. She noted that a big way to communicate with students and parents in her classroom is the use of Edmodo is similar to Facebook, but it’s used solely for academics. I asked her what the appeal to Edmodo is for her and she said, “It looks a lot like Facebook. Many of my students obviously use Facebook so it’s an easy transition for them. And many of my students are going to have to start using technological aspects in their classroom and this will help them to transition into that.” She also noted that not only does Edmodo appeal to students, but it appeals to parents/guardians as well. This is because it’s easy to use and it has assignments loaded onto the website along with important classroom updates so that parents/guardians can know what’s happening in the classroom.


Similarly, Helena Solomon noted that it’s important to know the tools and pick what works best for you. She said, “Before creating a social media strategy, research which tools fit your needs and resources” (Solomon).

Lastly, the third person I interviewed was Clifford Shawver. Mr. Shawver and I went to college together and graduated at the same time with the same teaching degree. He’s currently in his fourth year of teaching. Recently, Mr. Shawver moved to California and now teaches in the Redondo Beach Unified School District. He used to teach for the Peoria Unified School District. I wanted to interview Mr. Shawver because I wanted his perspective on what it’s like to use social media with that particular demographic. He told me that he too uses Facebook, but he also told me that some teachers use Youtube to connect to parents/guardians and students. He says, “Some teachers have their own Youtube site and use it to upload certain videos that they show in class. And sometimes teachers will film lectures and put them on the website.” James Howe says, “you need to give them something of value. Generally that means sharing content that is interesting or useful” (Howe). It’s important to add value by sharing interesting or useful content and by using Youtube teachers are providing that at Mr. Shawver’s school. Also, the availability to social media is different in his new location. He says that the biggest difference that he’s noticed between teaching here in Arizona and in California is the availability to the students. He said, “When I was teaching Arizona many of my students didn’t have access to social media because they weren’t able to get access at home. A lot of my students here in California have more access. A lot of it probably has to do with the area that I teach in. The area is really nice. I wouldn’t say that the students are rich or anything, but they definitely have more resources.”

The three different perspectives made me further realize that social media is used differently and that it must appeal to a certain demographic. Yes, all three people are in education, but the area in which their schools are located have an effect on how they approach social media. They need to be cognizant of who their audience is. As with my example with Mr. Shawver, how social media works in the Redondo Beach Unified School District is drastically different from how it’s used in the Peoria Unified School District. This is because the audience changed.

Coatney, Sara. Interview by Danny Harvell. Sept. 2014.

Howe, James. “10 Social Media Basics Every Nonprofit Needs to Know.” International Association of Business Communicators, n.d.
Web. 28 Sept. 2014. .

Shawver, Clifford. Interview by Danny Harvell. Sept. 2014.

Smith. Barbara. “The Changing Role of the Communication Professional. International Association of Business Communicators”., n.d. Web. 28 Sept. 2014.

Solomon, Helene. “Social Media for Nonprofits.” International
Association of Business Communicators, n.d. Web. 28 Sept. 2014.

Sutton, Brittany. Interview by Danny Harvell. Sept. 2014.

5 thoughts on “Social Media in Education”

  1. Hi Danny:

    Thanks for your blog. I’m interested in your topic “Social Media in Education” because I, too, wrote on how social media is used inside a classroom. (I focused on community college use.)

    Firstly, I think your interviews were great. All three were relevant. What’s really missing from your piece, though, are images. So I thought ahead and extracted excerpts from each of the three interviews. I then formed some ideas on images you can use for each of the three.

    1. For your first interview, you wrote, “She noted that parents generally do prefer e-mail, but when it comes to communicating with students Facebook has generally been the best avenue.” If you go to Google images and type in “no e-mail for kids,” you’ll find plenty of images that apply.

    2. You interviewed Sara Coatney and said, “She noted that a big way to communicate with students and parents in her classroom is the use of Edmodo is similar to Facebook, but it’s used solely for academics.” Use Google images and type in Edmodo. Lots to choose from!

    3. For your third interview you wrote, “I wanted to interview Mr. Shawver because I wanted his perspective on what it’s like to use social media with that particular demographic. Type one word only: Demographic. You’d be amazed at what comes up.

    Your piece is shaping up nicely, and I really think images can help tell your story. Images will contribute an artful flow to the piece.

    Good luck!


  2. I really like how you take the perspectives of different educators with various demographics and lengths of experience. While I think that some visuals would help, I also wonder how the students and parents would respond to your topic. Perhaps it would be possible to add their perspectives to your piece as well. Also you touch on the digital divide so that would also be an avenue where you could ask how the educators or administrators bridge that gap or if the students and parents without resources are just left out of the loop.


  3. Hi Danny,

    The three perspectives are vastly different, and it is interesting to see how social media effects each of them. For example, administrators do not have the same need for social media as teachers. As administrators mainly deal with parents and teachers, all looking for the best interests of the students. Whereas, as a teacher, I mainly deal with students and contact administrators and parents while looking for the best interests of the students.

    I also think it is important to note the varied years of experience of your educators and how each one values technology and social media. In my own post, my site has a ton of work to do, however, in your experience there seems to be a general buy in from the teachers/admin. How refreshing!


  4. Hi Danny! I had not heard of Edmodo before your post. Thanks for the insightful information. I think it’s really funny that things we use for education are beginning to mimic social media! But in a lot of ways I think it’s awesome–especially after this last chunk of readings for English 503. The more students become accustomed to using different social media-like tools for different purposes, the more they will probably be able to make good choices about genre and audience in the future (assuming they use an element of social media in their future professions). This might be an interesting piece to expand on!

    The end of your post has me curious about social media appealing to different demographics. Does the Peoria school district that you teach for have a different taste in social media than the Rodando Beach school district? Or, is it that the students in Arizona have less access to social media? The middle of your past hints to this second point, but the conclusion makes it sound like it has to do with interest instead of resources.

    I’m also really curious about teachers’ use of Facebook. Do they have Facebook pages for their classes? I think this could open up a really interesting discussion of private verse public life of teachers. Has posting to social media (such as a class Facebook page) become something that teachers now do regularly? I’m also curious about Ms. Sutton’s use of social media for administrative purposes. Has it added to her workload? Has it replaced email entirely, or is social media a supplement to weekly newsletters and such?

    This post also has me curious of the value of social media in the classroom. The fact that some teachers have a YouTube site is really interesting, but I’d love to know more about how they use it. Is it just to store videos? Or are there homework assignments that ask students to access videos off of the YouTube site? And all of this brings me back to the different demographics of the school districts. Is it assumed that all of the students in the Peoria school district have internet access at home? Can they all access Emodo at home, or do teachers in the Peoria district try not to assign homework that necessitates that use of the internet?

    Thanks for the interesting insight into social media in public schools!

    All the best,



  5. Hi Danny,

    Terrific to have read three different educators’ perspectives and how they use social media! I also appreciate the structure you provided in your post, relating each perspective with an element from our module’s readings. Clear and connected!

    My 8th grader uses Edmodo, and I’d have to agree with Sara (Coatney) that it is very much like Facebook. It’s “academic” FB 🙂 My daughter enjoys how she can post a question to her whole team (3 classes) or even the whole 8th grade class and receive a response without necessarily having to consult with a teacher. It democratizes information. Plus, it helps her be quite aware of her audience. Like in this case, depending on the question or comment my daughter posts, she would have to decide if it was a better fit for just her team or would it benefit the whole 8th grade class.

    Just yesterday, she read to me a really long exchange among a small group of Edmodo post-ers—all 8th graders—questioning how and why certain posts were deleted. While this was a conversation among 8th grade students and it had to do with their Edmodo posts, it was also a fascinating discussion on bigger themes of censorship and digital citizenship. Given the freedom social media allows, how do we use it responsibly? Things like that. The best thing was it all happened with minimal teacher intervention. If they can figure out stuff like this when they are in 8th grade, they will definitely be ready for much of what the 21st century will foist upon them, right?



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