Most educators will see social media as nothing more than a distraction for their students. It's true that sometimes, our attachment to it can look more like an addiction. However, there's more to social media than meets the eye. After all, Facebook has its roots in Harvard University, so can it be used to improve education? Here's how it can be used in the classroom, and beyond, to bring students together and improve learning. Create A Community The main purpose of a social network is to bring people together. You can take advantage of that as an educator. Give your students a space where they can get together outside of class and talk about what they're learning. It's especially good if several students are finding the same concepts challenging. It gives them the opportunity to get together and work through the problems, perhaps with a student that's already grasped the material. Share Learning Materials With Students As the educator, you can get involved with your students' social media group, too. For example, it's a great way to share materials with them, whether they're directly linked to your subject or not. Educators may send links to sites such as StateOfWriting that can help students with assignment writing. This can cut down the amount of time you spend answering emails from students, as you can address all students at once. Encourage Debate When your class is in session, you'll be encouraging your students to get involved and debate with each other. Social media gives them the chance to continue the debate outside of the classroom. After all, some students may only think of some points once they've had time to mull over the class, and some students may not feel comfortable speaking up in front of the class. This gives everyone the chance to talk about the topics at hand and learn more from each other. Enable Students To Help Themselves And Each Other When students need help with their work, being part of a social media network means that they can look to their peers for support. This means that they can get help with a simple question, or make connections help to more complex support if they need it. The Huffington Post says that students have taken to recommending good academic tutoring sites to each other. This means that they can become more self-sufficient and look for help themselves when they need it. How To Implement Social Media In Your Classroom If this all sounds good to you, then you'll need to look at implementing social media in your classroom. Before you do, it's worth addressing some concerns that you may have: How do you ensure students use social networks appropriately? The way to do this is to teach them how to use social networks in general. Show them what happens to the data that they post, and how it never really disappears from the internet. It's especially important to implement rules for using social media, especially in class. How do you find time for networking? Ideally, this needs to be changed at the administration level. If you want to implement networking in your classroom, you'll need to talk to your management and have them create the time for you. Show them how important it can be for your students' development. Where should you set up a social network? Many schools and universities already use online portals, such as Moodle, to bring together all their resources. It's fairly simple to set up a network on them for your students to join and start discussing the learning at hand. If your school doesn't have this, there are plenty of educational social networks online that you can use to create an online portal. Depending on the age of your students, you can even invite their parents to join, too. The main thing to do when creating social networks for your students is to discuss it with them first. You'll need to explain what's expected of them when they use it, and lay down some ground rules. It may also be a good time to go over your school's online usage policy. Also, it's a good time to remind students that usage of technology at school is a privilege, not a right. If you make it clear that any student using the network improperly will have the privilege to use it revoked, it should keep issues to a minimum. Now that you have done this, you can kick things off by sharing discussion questions online or sharing important resources. If you can spark a conversation online, then you'll be off to a good start. You can go far with social media in education, if you know how to use it. Use these tips to set your class up for networking. You'll see just how much it can benefit your students. Author Bio: Rachel Summers is a freelance writer whose passion is helping students get the most out of their learning journey. She started out as a writer and journalist in the newspaper industry, before breaking out to go freelance and follow her own passions. Her writing is designed to help you get the most out of college.