Q: My students are begging me to incorporate social media into their assignments. What are your thoughts on and ideas for using it in the classroom?
A: Though I tend to be wary of using social media in education, a couple of ideas do come to mind. I saw a very interesting presentation at the National Dance Education Organization conference last October. Sharon McCaman presented a workshop about using Instagram to make and share dance videos. The app has a built-in video function, but you must shoot sequentially. For this to work, McCaman encourages the students to storyboard their dances and choose their framing carefully. They can then choose whether or not to share their work. Though there are certainly better apps for shooting and editing video on tablets and phones, your students' familiarity with Instagram means they can get right to work without needing much of a tutorial. For an extra challenge, you can try the same exercise with Snapchat, an app that lets you record video for 10 seconds at a time. The time limit encourages dancers to be clear and precise with their choices.
Social media can be a powerful advocacy tool for your program. You can give parents, administrators and other educators a peek into your classroom. Plus, it can encourage other students to join your program, having seen your work. Perhaps best of all, once students get into the habit of making dances in class using social media, they may continue the creativity on their own.