Originally published on CityLife Chiangmai

Generation Y is the first generation to grow up with the internet, laptop computers, smart phones and social media. This is the generation which was born between the late 1980s and early 2000s so if you’re currently teaching teenagers, then your students are Generation Y.
Having a good understanding of this generation’s characteristics is invaluable for any teachers working with these students… so what are Generation Y like?

Well opinions range from the negative ;
– Narcissistic
– Trophy kids
– Self-centered
– Irresponsible

To the more positive;
– Liberal
– Tolerant
– Creative,
– Self expressive

But I see this generation as falling somewhere in between

– Confident, Liberal, Expressive, a little Vain and very Image Conscious.

And that’s why I believe that social media is such a great tool for educating these students.

Social media can be utilised by teachers for communication, the development of critical thinking skills and a medium for language production activities.

Communication
By embracing the methods of communication which Generation Y has grown up with, educators are able to personalize learning and move their lessons into the real world.

More and more teachers are now doing this using blogs, Twitter, FaceBook and instant messaging apps such as Line to keep in touch with their students outside of the classroom. This creates new opportunities for teachers to give students support with homework, projects and test preparation and it provides the students with a platform to engage and collaborate together on.

Critical Thinking

‘Regularly using FaceBook is a great way to develop critical thinking skills’ –

I know, I wasn’t exactly won over by this statement when I first heard it either. I had always thought students were wasting their time playing on FaceBook but actually the truth is quite different.

While students are ‘playing’ on FaceBook, they are actually engaging in a wide range of higher level thinking skills such as; inferring, summarizing, composing, analyzing, decision making and predicting. The link between the use of social media and the development of critical thinking skills has been made by numerous researchers including; Al-Fadhli & Khalfan, 2009; Maurino, 2006-2007.

Production
Along with the development of higher level thinking skills, social media can also be used for language production activities – Blogs, Twitter & YouTube are particularly good for this.

I have had my students create role plays, video them and then upload to YouTube. These activities have proved to be extremely popular – to the extent that if I do not set one of these projects each term, my students demand to know why!

Blogs and Twitter are great mediums for students to practice their written language skills. I recently organized #atweetadayfor30days project with my Mathayom students. They were given homework each day for an entire month to tweet various types of message. The students really enjoyed it and we were able to cover a wide range of language skills including; grammar production, questioning, giving suggestions, sharing opinions, agreeing, disagreeing and arguing.

Safety and Responsibility
Finally on the topic of social networking, it’s important to educate students about the safe and responsible use of social media.

I recently organized a class discussion on these topics and discovered that most of my students are aware of these points but they don’t take it very seriously.

But one point which did cause uproar was the small print in Facebook’s terms and conditions, especially this point – the photos you’ve uploaded to Facebook are now the property of Facebook!

More Info

For more information about social media and education I suggest you go to

http://www.bestmastersineducation.com/social-media/.

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Daniel is an English Literature graduate from the University of London who has spent the past 20 years living and working in Southeast Asia. Passionate about education, health care, sustainable development, equality and human rights, Daniel is a regular contributor to Asian Correspondent, Ajarn, The Educator and Bangkok Post.

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