Kali Ledgerwood

Ontario Tech University


Web 2.0 tools and social media networking sites are digital tools that youth are frequently engaging within their personal lives. When integrated into the curriculum, these digital tools can enrich students learning. Social media sites such as Twitter (Meta, 2022c), Facebook (Meta, 2022a) and Instagram (Meta, 2022b) are digital tools that promote collaboration and knowledge sharing with others, while also building students’ 21st-century competencies. Integrating social media into the curriculum motivates and engages students, as they can connect to what they are learning and become co-producers in their education. This chapter explores the benefits of social media in supporting learning and the development of 21st-century skills in the classroom, the application of Twitter as a learning tool, as well as the implications of the use of social media in education.


21st-century skills, collaboration, digital literacy, innovation, social media, Twitter


With the rise of technology, there has been an increase in the use of Web 2.0 tools. Web 2.0 tools are technology tools such as blogs, wikis or social media that allow students to collaborate and create content with other students (Diacopoulos, 2015). Social networking sites, or social media, are used by a significant number of people, including students. Social media includes a wide variety of tools that encompass technology, social collaboration, and creation (Faizi et al., 2013). Some examples of social media platforms include Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and other media sharing sites. Social media use has rapidly increased in various fields, including education. Knowing students are frequent users of social media, teachers can leverage social media use by integrating it into their curriculum to promote the achievement of 21st-century competencies.

Social Media in the Curriculum

Teachers can leverage student motivation and communicative literacies by bringing social media into the classroom (Callaghan & Bower, 2012). One way that the Ontario curriculum has included social media is through digital media literacy. In this sense, digital media literacy is defined as the ability and competencies to critically evaluate and produce various types of media (Egbert & Neville, 2015). Students need to learn and explore the various uses of digital media (i.e., websites and social media) and think critically about the information as consumers as well as the content they are creating as producers. Understanding the benefits of social media use in the curriculum for students’ 21st-century competencies will encourage teachers to adopt these digital tools as a pedagogical tool to enhance their education and best prepare their students for the workforce in the digital age.

Benefits of Social Media as a Learning Tool

Students today are known as the Net Generation, as they have grown up with digital media and technology tools and relate to these technologies differently than other generations (Tapscott, 2009). In a rapidly changing world, students need to develop skills that will best prepare them for the workforce in the 21st century. Since the rise of technology in the digital age, the competencies students need to succeed in the workforce have evolved. Some of the most vital skills students need to develop are critical thinking, communication, collaboration, creativity, and innovation (Ministry of Education, 2016). Part of an educator’s job is to learn about and adapt to the new learning theories to prepare students to become global citizens. The increase of technology and social media has increased students’ access to information and the communication of knowledge with others. Students now need the skills to navigate and utilize digital resources provided by communities of people (Goldie, 2016).  A learning theory prevalent in the digital age is known as connectivism. In connectivism, learning occurs when the learners connect to knowledge through digital technologies and participate in learning communities to share and build their knowledge (Goldie, 2016). Participation in learning involves conversations between members of the learning communities as well as more knowledgeable beings (Goldie, 2016).  Therefore, integrating social media into the curriculum will benefit students’ engagement, critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, and innovation skills.


Social media tools effectively engage students in the curriculum as they can connect their knowledge in multiple contexts. Social media tools can decrease student boredom by providing them with the opportunity to become participants and co-producers in their learning (Faizi et al., 2013). Using social media tools in the curriculum involves students in learning activities that allow them to learn through doing, creating, and evaluating. Utilizing social media tools with students takes the focus off the teacher and puts the students at the center of their learning experiences.


The Net Generation are natural collaborators who participate in collaborative activities in a variety of online environments (Tapscott, 2009). Using social media in the curriculum provides students with opportunities to collaborate on a task or goal and collectively accomplish something as a group (Burbules, 2016). Students engage in sharing ideas, creations and resources with a larger group or audience (Burbules, 2016). Social media can also bridge the distance between students in a classroom setting, as they do not have to physically be present in the room to participate in the learning (Abe & Jordan, 2013). In addition, students need to be able to communicate effectively in various contexts. Social media brings new methods of communication as each tool (i.e., Instagram and YouTube) has its own way of communicating knowledge. Integrating social media in the classroom not only builds students’ collaboration skills but provides them with opportunities to communicate knowledge to various audiences.

Critical Thinking

Most students know how to use social media in their personal lives outside of the classroom. Growing up in a world where information is readily available, students need to be able to question and critically think about the information they are presented (Tapscott, 2009). Using social media in the educational setting allows students to learn how to use these digital tools in a critical and intentional way to maximize their learning (Abe & Jordan, 2013). When integrating social media tools into the curriculum, educators should ensure that they model how to effectively use social media tools for educational means. Social media tools can support the process of critical thinking when it involves authentic and relevant learning experiences where students uncover, construct, and apply knowledge (Ministry of Education, 2016). Social media platforms allow students to consider the content they share with larger audiences and critically evaluate the information they encounter on digital platforms.

Innovation and Creativity

Innovation involves students developing new ideas or contributions that can be useful to various contexts (Ministry of Education, 2016). It is important for students to develop the ability to seek new knowledge to solve the latest problems (Fullan, 2013). Integrating social media in the curriculum provides students opportunities to transfer their knowledge to various contexts in their lives. Students should go beyond what they learned and find ways to apply their knowledge in real-world contexts (Tapscott, 2009). In addition, students should engage in learning experiences that exercise their creativity and pursuit of new ideas or products that can meet real-world needs (Ministry of Education, 2016). Delello et al. (2015) note that studies have shown that social media has increased students’ creativity. Therefore, when used appropriately, social media tools can enhance students’ creativity and innovation competencies as they allow students to digitally create knowledge for vast audiences.

Application: Twitter as a Learning Tool

Twitter (Meta, 2022c) is a microblogging platform that allows students to interact with other students and their teachers (Rinaldo et al., 2011). As teachers, whether inside a physical classroom or a virtual classroom, it is important to develop a social presence amongst students. Twitter can provide educators with a digital platform to create and maintain a social presence throughout a course. In addition, it involves the students in their learning, increasing engagement, and allowing students to participate in experiential learning in a real-world context.

Higher Education

Twitter (Meta, 2022c) could be used as a learning tool for a marketing course in higher education. Professors can use Twitter as a platform for students to engage in dialogue about course material or as a method of experiential learning. At a base, students and professors can share resources and communicate with each other on Twitter (Rinaldo et al., 2011). To expand their learning, using Twitter in a marketing course allows students to become familiar with a social media platform they would most likely use in the workforce. Professors can create learning experiences that ask students to create advertisements for existing products, or their own creations. This platform can allow students to apply and reflect on the effectiveness of Twitter to market information or products to larger audiences beyond the classroom.

Challenges of Using Social Media as a Learning Tool

While there are many benefits to integrating social media in the classroom, it is important to address the limitations of implementing these tools. Integrating social media in the curriculum needs to be intentional, teachers often lack training in utilizing digital resources in the classroom and some students may not be familiar with the digital tools. Additionally, teachers should be aware of the potential risks to privacy when using social media platforms.


The presence of the teacher when using social media tools is essential to positive learning experiences (Callaghan & Bower, 2012). It is important that teachers are trained in the digital tools that they will implement into the curriculum. Implementing social media should be intentional and help promote 21st-century skills acquisition. Since the Net Generation is more knowledgeable in social media than some older generations of teachers, it is important that teachers feel confident in using the tools themselves first. Providing professional development on how to navigate and use social media for education can support teachers and encourage them to bring these tools into their classrooms. Additionally, it is important to ensure all students are proficient in digital tools. When integrating social media, teachers need to model how to utilize the tool in an educational context, outlining student expectations and allowing students to troubleshoot any technology concerns.


Social media platforms are available for any member of the public who would like to participate. Educators need to be careful of the risks to privacy for their students when using social media platforms (Zaidieh, 2012). Educators should be mindful that some students might not be comfortable sharing knowledge or media on social media due to the public nature of the tool. Additionally, educators need to be mindful of the boundary between professional and personal use of the intended platform. Both student and their instructor might use the social media tool for personal use. Dennen and Burner (2017) found that some students found it difficult to separate personal life and school life when using social media.
Finally, ensuring students are aware of their educational expectations on the social media tool is essential to minimizing privacy risks. If possible, communicating to students how to make their accounts or contributions private to only the professor could also mitigate potential privacy risks.

Conclusions and Future Recommendations

Social media use in the classroom can be a powerful tool that enhances students’ engagement, collaboration, critical thinking, innovation, and creativity skills. While integrating social media has some implications (i.e., teacher and student knowledge and privacy), providing students opportunities to learn through social media helps them develop the 21st-century competencies they need to succeed in the workforce. As the world continues to advance technologically, teachers should continue to adapt their pedagogy with their students’ best interests in mind, fostering engagement and connection to the curriculum they are taught.


Abe, J. & Jordan, N. A. (2013). Integrating Social Media Into the Classroom Curriculum. About Campus: Enriching the Student Learning Experience, 18(1), pp. 16–20. https://doi.org/10.1002/abc.21107

Burbules. (2016). How We Use and Are Used by Social Media in Education. Educational Theory, 66(4), pp. 551–565. https://doi.org/10.1111/edth.12188

Callaghan, & Bower, M. (2012). Learning through social networking sites – the critical role of the teacher. Educational Media International, 49(1), pp. 1–17. https://doi.org/10.1080/09523987.2012.662621

Delello, J., McWhorter, R. R., & Camp, K. M. (2015). Using social media as a tool for learning: a multi-disciplinary study. International Journal on e-Learning, 14(2), pp. 163-180. https://www.researchgate.net/deref/http%3A%2F%2Fwww.editlib.org%2Fp%2F41291

Dennen, & Burner, K. J. (2017). Identity, context collapse, and Facebook use in higher education: putting presence and privacy at odds. Distance Education, 38(2), 173–192. https://doi.org/10.1080/01587919.2017.1322453

Diacopoulos. (2015). Untangling Web 2.0: Charting Web 2.0 Tools, the NCSS Guidelines for Effective Use of Technology, and Bloom’s Taxonomy. The Social Studies, 106(4), pp. 139–148. https://doi.org/10.1080/00377996.2015.1015711

Egbert, J., & Neville, C. (2015). Engaging K-12 Language Learners in Media Literacy. TESOL Journal, 6(1), pp. 177–187. https://doi.org/10.1002/tesj.182

Faizi, El Afia, A., & Chiheb, R. (2013). Exploring the Potential Benefits of Using Social Media in Education. International Journal of Engineering Pedagogy, 3(4), pp. 50–53. https://doi.org/10.3991/ijep.v3i4.2836

Fullan, M. (2013). Pedagogy and change: Essence as easy. Stratosphere (pp. 17-32). Pearson.

Goldie. (2016). Connectivism: A knowledge learning theory for the digital age? Medical Teacher, 38(10), pp. 1064–1069. https://doi.org/10.3109/0142159X.2016.1173661

Meta (2022a). Facebook. www.facebook.com

Meta (2022b). Instagram. https://www.instagram.com/

Meta (2022c). Twitter. https://twitter.com

Ministry of Education. (2016). 21st Century Competencies. http://www.edugains.ca/resources21CL/21stCenturyLearning/21CL_21stCenturyCompetencies.pdf

Rinaldo, S., Tapp, S., & Laverie, D. A. (2011). Learning by Tweeting: Using Twitter as a Pedagogical Tool. Journal of Marketing Education, 33(2), pp. 193–203. https://doi.org/10.1177/0273475311410852

Tapscott, D. (2009). The eight net gen norms. Grown up digital (pp.75-96). McGraw-Hill.Twitter (2022). https://twitter.com/

Zaidieh, A. J. Y. (2012). The use of social networking in education: Challenges and opportunities. World of Computer Science and Information Technology Journal (WCSIT), 2(1), pp. 18-21. https://www.academia.edu/3059622/The_Use_of_Social_Networking_in_Education_Challenges_and_Opportunities


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Technology and the Curriculum: Summer 2022 Copyright © 2022 by Kali Ledgerwood is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book