Communities and Social Media

The role of social media: Improving content sharing and communication between teachers and students

Since the introduction of Web 2.0, the potential to network, share content and communicate with others has improved greatly. In the education industry prior to social media, the potential to network and communicate with others was far less. Teachers and students have used social media as a third-place to share content and communicate with one another. Being able to network globally with anyone almost instantly is something that is truly remarkable. To demonstrate how social media has improved education, I will discuss the improvements to communication between students and teachers and improved tools to broadcast news and content.

Social media has allowed for almost instant, worldwide contact to be possible within everyday life, drastically improving the way we communicate with one another. The updates in social media technology have improved greatly over the past 10 years, with abilities to send messages, video chat and voice memos, people are able to instantly communicate with others worldwide. Basic catchups, as well as organising events and meetups have never been easier thanks to social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram. Facebook has many features that help users keep in contact with work colleagues, loved ones and acquaintances. It also allows users to create a personal space, where they can gather friends and family within their own personal network (Ractham & Firpo, 2011). Facebook has especially succeeded in providing a useful resource for students who need to communicate frequently about school or university. A study by the National School Boards Association (of America) in 2007, demonstrated that there was positive correlation between the use of Facebook and students’ performance (Grunwald, 2007). The study also showed that students using social networks had impressive skills in communication, creativity, collaboration and leadership. These social networking sites allowed for students to acquire and practice skills that are relevant in this digital era. Through using Facebook, the role of teachers transformed from helping students learn in a physical space, to becoming a mentor and information provider. They helped students plan advanced learning, careers and provided extra educational resources (Pollara & Zhu, 2011). These findings demonstrate that the use of social networking sites can be optimized to enhance the learning experience. Allowing for students to send messages to classmates and teachers instantly about questions or comments related to what they were learning in class.

It’s undeniable that social media can be used to enhance people’s ability to communicate and foster social connections with one another (Ractham & Firpo, 2011). When COVID-19 hit in 2020 and almost all physical workplaces were shutdown indefinitely, people had to figure out another way to keep in contact with their colleagues. This is when instant messaging and video chat in a work sense became very popular. Social media site zoom, which was once used as a tool for hosting remote business meetings, was suddenly utilised by millions to connect those who retained their jobs during the pandemic (Bellan, 2020). Eventually schools and universities adopted Zoom and switched to online lectures and classrooms. Zoom allowed for an authentic classroom experience with a weekly schedule and resources to review academic materials whilst still staying safe and isolated (Mohammed et al., 2020). Despite its success in providing a platform for those who were made to work at home, online learning via Zoom during the pandemic received backlash and was not preferred by some in different situations. In a study surveying 3275 Chinese parent’s beliefs and attitudes around young children’s online learning during the lockdown, 84.6% found their children spent less than half an hour of focused work each day. The parents preferred traditional learning in early childhood settings and resisted online learning due to young children’s inadequate self-regulation and their lack of time and professional knowledge in supporting their child’s online learning (Dong et al., 2020). This demonstrated that online learning is perhaps not the most efficient education tool for young children. However, teenagers, young adults and teachers who had to use online learning tools such as Zoom often found that the freedom and flexibility of work and study hours allowed for more time to be spent doing legitimate work (Purwanto et al., 2020). Now that some time has passed since the first initial lockdown in 2020, students and parents of young children have had time to figure out how to work well and what their weaknesses are when it comes to online learning. Even though there is debate about if online learning educates students at the same level as physical, the introduction of social media learning tools such as Zoom have allowed for a very impressive substitute of physical learning, during a time in which it was prohibited. Without the capabilities of social media to connect users instantly, there’s no way any efficient work would’ve been possible during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sharing news and content has always been an important aspect of social media. The ability to access news updates and share with colleagues is something that improves connectiveness and communication. A Pew Research Centre survey conducted between August and September in 2020 found that 53% of U.S adults get news from social media often (Shearer & Mitchell, 2021). The access of having news articles littered in a user’s news feed makes it very easy to pick up important headlines and share with friends. There often is debate about the authenticity of news articles on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. The scare of finding misinformation on social media is often what drives users away from getting their news off these sources. This spread of fake news on social media is a large issue facing society, however these sites have implemented checks to ensure that a user is receiving authentic material (Kim et al., 2019). Fact checking applications such as Truthy and Hoaxy provide searches on fact-checking sites to verify news articles and sites that have a history of publishing fake news articles. If an article is deemed fake these applications will flag the posts and alert Facebook to take the post down (Kim et al., 2019). Credible news pages will also have a “blue tick” next to their name if they are verified by Facebook. However, on sites such as Facebook, authentic news far outweighs the fake. In 2016, researcher Andrew Guess of Princeton University found that 85% of posts on Facebook about the U.S. election were deemed trustworthy (Travers, 2020). Despite the small chance that an article is fake news, the capability to share articles and news with other users is truly remarkable and improves our ability to communicate with one another.

A feature mainly utilised on the sites Facebook and Instagram called ‘tagging’, is a process where a user can publicly share a post or article to their friend or acquaintance. Users usually ‘tag’ others in posts that have mutual significance to one another. The simplicity of writing a person’s name under a post can provide new light to previous conversations or humour about previous jokes. The capabilities in a physical sense can also strengthen communication by having easy access to a post that a user may have seen earlier. This could present new ideas and opinions about a topic that may have been forgotten about otherwise. The freedom to share opinions and engage in an active, public conversation with others is another thing that improves communication. They can also share their opinions with a far wider audience and share news and current events not dominated by mainstream media. Without this ability, people would have to wait for a physical occasion to discuss topics.

Social media has been an extremely useful tool to practice communication and broadcast awareness for societal issues. Through abilities enabled by social media, people have been able to stay in contact with one another from different sides of the world and through a pandemic. This paper has demonstrated how social media has improved the way people communicate through education. Social media will continue to improve and provide more opportunities to communicate and engage in societal change.


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18 thoughts on “The role of social media: Improving content sharing and communication between teachers and students

  1. Hi Matthew,

    I thought I’d bring a bit of a different perspective to your paper. I have worked in primary and secondary education for more than a decade, and over that time have seen many policies implemented by federal and state governments, education bodies and schools to explicitly dictate how educational staff can interact with students on social media, if not actively discourage this interaction entirely. Usage of these sites to communicate with students can open staff to losing their jobs, let alone legal issues that can arise – particularly grooming.

    I’m aware i’m coming from a very Australian perspective, as a lot of these policies have developed from child protection inquiries. Australia also has vigorous educational standards and this complexity is discussed in professional development training that i’m not entirely sure exists in other nations. At one PD session I had lawyers say it’s simply not worth pursuing any social media interactions and to find alternative methods of communication due to the grey legal area.

    In the face of this, Covid 19 was a challenge in finding correct and safe communication between teachers and students in a very short amount of time. Many schools found Zoom to have security breaches and it was advised as an unsuitable platform (the alternative was Microsoft Teams).

    Having said all that, I know high school students absolutely do use social media spaces to establish their own communities, and discuss classes and assignments amongst their peers. And schools themselves will use social media profiles to openly communicate to their community, which was really important during lockdowns.

    I think the positives you discuss in your paper are absolutely the case, but more-so for higher education. As others have noted, organising the conference over Facebook and Slack was a great example of students interacting with each other and their teacher/s on social media.

    I would be interested to know if other nations have a different response to social media and primary/secondary education – I particularly suspect America to be very different to Australia due to how varied their schooling systems are.


    An example of a social media policy via the Victorian Department of Education:

    Zoom and grooming issues during Covid lockdowns:

    1. Hey Kristen,

      Thank you very much for your comment! This has opened a completely different side which I didn’t even consider when writing my paper. I certainly agree that in a high-school sense students shouldn’t be having direct contact with teachers and vice versa. As you said, it’s appropriate for primary education students to use social media to establish their own communities and discuss school-related topics.

      In higher education, the opportunities for teachers and students to communicate are much safer and far more suitable than in primary education. Of course, through the example of Covid, social media has been able to facilitate far more efficient conversations between students and teachers. The only other viable communication being emails, which can take long periods of time to get a response and feature a far less authentic conversation.

      After completing my paper, I found a study that concluded social media sites like Facebook tend to cause students to disclose more personal information about themselves, attracting potential privacy risks. Correct me if I’m wrong but your comments, as well as this study, demonstrate that perhaps the social side of social media damages the potential for it to be an effective learning tool? Considering that social media and online learning will only continue to grow, I guess that the best way to move forward is to provide a platform that directly focuses on education. Something where students can receive work, communicate with one another, and have direct and efficient conversations with their teachers which are monitored.

      And yes, it would be interesting to hear other nations’ responses to social media and education. I have a friend who went to an international school in Abu Dhabi a few years ago. The culture is obviously different there but he tells me he still keeps in contact with his mentors/teachers and peers via social media. I’ll find out how actively he used social media to communicate while at the school.

      Thanks again for your comment, I would love to hear your thoughts!

      Kind regards,

      1. Hi Matthew,

        Thanks for your reply! It was a very trying time for education last year so it’s a big topic with a lot of discussion out there. Covid definitely forced some rapid changes and implementation of e-learning, and the process was constantly getting refined during lockdowns.

        A lot of schools now have an online system similar to Blackboard to communicate, and they were heavily relied on for submissions and the bulk of coursework theory. It’s a bit clunky, but a private website for the school community only. Microsoft Teams actually had a stack of updates in 2020, and it soon enabled classes to be set up in seperate spaces, the standard classroom video tute plus a dedicated discussion channel and breakout video/chat areas – all of which the teacher could access and join when students @ them or video-called. I know teachers who had great success using Google’s G-Suite for Education – again another platform that received heavy usage and rapid updates of new features when Covid hit internationally.

        I think you’re perhaps right that the social-aspect of social media is what stops it being an effective and appropriate learning tool. The actual infrastructure of these sites is great and as you say I think we are heading to a future where these features are implemented in a dedicated platform closed to the general public.

        What I actually think is an interesting development of all this e-learning, is how this could potentially benefit students moving on to university. Learning to navigate these new systems and having an independence over their own education are positive attributes for students to have post-high school. I’m definitely not a fan of e-learning only (it can be a big struggle), but I can see elements of all the rapid development in 2020 being implemented into future curriculum design.


        1. Hey Kristen,

          Thanks for getting back to me, yes, I’m aware of the private websites for schools, the one that was used for my school was a bit clunky and didn’t have any instant messaging or video chat features. This is certainly something that needs to be implemented for it to be a more efficient learning tool.

          And yes, it will be interesting to see how e-learning fits into the curriculum design over the next few years. As you said, having the skills to navigate course content and to have independence over their own education is very important in higher education. I think it’s very likely that this will be implemented for students in their final years of high school.

          All the best,

  2. Hi, Matthew.

    Thank you for the engaging read; your paper is very comprehensive in that it covers many aspects of social media in regards to sharing and communication.

    Your statement is very true regarding how social media technology has improved over the past ten years, and how this affects communication within the education sector. I remember when I studied my diploma off-campus in 2010, and even then it was only through paper correspondence via the mail that I was able to receive my work and send it back for marking.

    I understand how parents prefer traditional face-to-face learning but school and work would have been virtually impossible to conduct decades ago during a pandemic and this would have resulted in an even greater threat to the economy.

    I hope my input has been helpful.



    1. Hey Rhys,

      Thanks very much for the comment. Yes, the changes in technology and the capabilities of online learning have been accelerated greatly over the past 10-15 years. Very interesting how that was the way of life for your diploma and now we get frustrated if a website doesn’t load quick enough! I’m keen to see what the changes will be over the next 10 years and how that will impact physical learning.

      All the best,

  3. Hi Matthew,

    I truly agree with you that social media play a very important role in education nowadays. A very good example is the current Covid-19 pandemic when schools and universities were closed down and learning has to be done online via Zoom. Lecturers and teachers are still able to stay connected with their students and the teaching and learning process can still go on. Indeed, thanks to the social media platform.

    Another interesting read in your paper is on how Facebook has used “safety check” to let others know that people are safe during emergency. I think this is very helpful in alleviating the fear and worry of one’s siblings and loved ones in time of emergency.

    Best regards,

    1. Hey Elaine,

      Thanks very much for your comment! Yes, COVID-19 has certainly allowed for social media and online classrooms to show their abilities and provide a sufficient substitute for physical learning. It will be interesting to see how much of a role it still plays as we return to physical learning.

      All the best,

  4. Hi Matthew,
    I found the relationship between social media and pedagogy to be a very fascinating one, especially during times like this were because of COVID-19, students and teachers have to resort to social media to continue educating and being educated.
    You mentioned that Facebook is great for enabling students to establish communities as they have the liberty to communicate frequently with their peers and teachers for educational purposes and I completely agree.
    Social media has allowed teachers and students to share content and communicate virtually and because of the pandemic, this has not caused as big of a hindrance as it would have if we did not have the tools social media offers now.
    With that being said, I personally don’t think the effects of teachers and students online can be compared to what they are offline. Although social media offers a lot of features, I think there is something unique and personal in doing things physically.
    Social media platforms such as Facebook does offer a wide range of advantages and this is evident in our Conference Paper group where Mike has the ability to converse with us and vice versa.

    1. Hey Saranya!

      Thanks very much for your comment. I agree with you to an extent. In most instances learning in a physical sense can be much more beneficial. Aspects such as focused learning, physical communication, and direct one-on-one learning are only possible through physical learning and are very important. Throughout COVID-19 there have been many studies into whether online learning has been a success. This including the one I mentioned in China where parents found that learning online was far less efficient for young children.

      I think that for older students and those with sufficient self-control, online learning is far more efficient. Based on the abilities to share content and engage in a well-thought-out conversation (like this one).

      I completely agree that it takes aspects away from a personal experience between peers and teachers. Perhaps a more appropriate study would be how social media/online learning has been a great substitute during this pandemic.

      I would love to know your thoughts,

      Kind regards,

      1. Hi Matthew!
        Thanks for your reply. There are many perspectives and views on online learning and whether or not it is more effective and efficient for both students and teachers.

        While I agree with you that older students and those with sufficient self-control are able to adapt and effectively engage with the concept of online learning, I personally don’t think it is as effective as being in a physical environment despite the ability to share content. However, I do agree that it is definitely easier to engage in a well-thought-out conversation due to some people being more comfortable debating or discussing through the means of a computer screen as opposed to face-to-face.

        There are many hindering factors that come with online learning – the biggest one being the number of distractions social media has. This makes it easier for students to go online and use the time they’ve been given to study on other platforms like Instagram (I’m guilty of this), causing them not to pay attention to what’s going on in these classes. Nevertheless, I do agree that it has been a great substitute during the pandemic as the thought of closing down the education system due to Covid would probably drive us all crazy (due to the lack of things to do).

        I’d love to hear how online learning has affected you and whether or not you personally find it more or less effective 🙂

        1. Hey Saranya!

          Thanks for getting back to me. Yes, I completely agree that the number of distractions social media has (as well as every other online distraction) makes it far more difficult to get efficient work done. In online classes which don’t require a camera or active engagement from the student, it is very easy to lose concentration.

          Upon reflection, during the first wave of Covid last year, I left the first semester dissatisfied. Despite online learning giving me more opportunities to share content and engage in conversation, I left the semester with the feeling that I didn’t achieve as much as I could’ve if physical classes didn’t have to stop. While this was mainly due to universities being lenient with marks and extensions during the difficult time, I felt that the distractions and light workload meant I didn’t learn anything of great value. During the last lockdown two weeks ago, I was guilty of being distracted and the amount of work I got done was very poor. It makes me think that perhaps online learning isn’t cut out for everyone and physical learning may be better catered for all students. However, if online learning was all I knew, I’m sure I would be able to work out a schedule that made sure I completed effective work and kept distractions to a minimum.

          I think we’ve probably concluded that social media and online learning can provide far more opportunities to engage in conversation and share content, but issues such as distractions and lack of self-motivation damage its potential to be as effective as physical learning.

          If you have any further thoughts, I would love to hear!

          Kind regards,

  5. Matthew, I really enjoyed reading your paper on the role social media has played on pedagogy, particularly during a pandemic.

    To further the discussion here, I wanted to add my perspective on this topics from my POV as a homeschool mum. I rely on online resources to deliver educational variety to my children. In particular, virtual classrooms like Outschool deliver opportunities to both support and enhance learning, and they provide opportunities to connect with global users who share the same passions and or interests. I’m also big on using a variety of technologies to enhance and support interest based learning and education. Platforms such as YouTube, TikTok, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Roblox and Minecraft are instrumental resources for me and my children. Similarly, we rely heavily on blogs, websites, and other online games and programs to help deliver endless learning opportunities.

    I can think of so many reasons why social media platforms and online learning systems can and do deliver new and enhanced pedagogical methods to educators and students. In particular – besides the homeschool community – our very own rural and indigenous communities greatly benefit from, and in many cases rely on, virtual classrooms to deliver education. In saying that, do you think virtual classrooms and social networking sites can merge to support marginalised and disadvantaged communities and bridge the educational gap between urban and rural/regional areas?

    In a prior university unit I wrote an essay that approached the use of social networks for pedagogy – but through a slightly different lens. I analysed how “instructional blogs, when employed as learning management systems, formed communities of practice that enhanced the ways in which students and teachers communicated and collaborated”. Which is very similar to what we are doing here with this conference.

    If you’re at all interested in furthering your knowledge, here are a few links to some of the papers I found during prior research of this subject:

    Blair, R., and Serafini, T. M. (2014). Integration of Education: Using Social Media Networks
    to Engage Students. Journal of Systemics, Cybernetics and Information, 12(6), 28-31.
    Retrieved from

    Bugawa, A. M., and Mizral, A. (2018). The Impacts of Web 2.0 Technologies on the
    Learning Experience of Students in Higher Education: A Review. International Journal of Web-Based Learning and Teaching Technologies (IJWLTT), 13(3), 1-17.
    DOI: 10.4018/IJWLTT.2018070101

    Byington, T. A. (2011). Communities of Practice: using Blogs to Increase Collaboration.
    Intervention in School and Clinic, 46(5), 280-291. DOI:10.1177/10534512103953384

    Dumova, T., and Fiordo, R. (eds.), (2012). Social Interaction Technologies and the Future of
    Blogging. In T. Dumova, and R. Fiordo (Eds), Blogging in the Global Society: Cultural, Political, and Geographical Aspects, (pp. 249-266). Hershey, PA: IGI Global. Retrieved from

    Reeves, T., and Gomm, P. (2012). Blogging All Over the World: Can Blogs Enhance Student
    Engagement By Creating a Community of Practice Around a Course? In P. Blessinger, Increasing Student Engagement and Retention using Online Learning Activities: Wikis, Blogs and Webquests. Retrieved from

    1. Hey Leah,

      Thanks very much for your comment. I can imagine online learning in a homeschooling setting is very important to keep things fresh and exciting for your children. The capabilities of the social media sites and games you listed would undoubtedly enhance learning experiences.

      In regards to your question about disadvantaged communities, online learning can certainly benefit students and potentially bridge the gap. A few years ago I volunteered at a local school in a rural Indigenous community called Looma 4 hours out of Broome. Based on the student’s ability there would be a different curriculum to ensure that each student was getting the right experience. Students who were excelling were given work that was sourced online for more of a challenge. Considering how rural this community was and the distinct lack of resources it had, they were very lucky to be able to access online learning.

      As the capabilities of online learning and social media are always improving, I think it’s very likely that the gap will close between rural and urban communities.

      Also thank you very much for sending in those resources, I will certainly give them a read!

  6. Hey Matt!

    I enjoyed reading your paper and it is good to see such positivity towards social media and it’s benefits. It is also great to get a glimpse of how teachers and students are utilising social media as a tool to communicate and share content with one another. As you mentioned in your paper, Facebook is a great for enabling students to establish communities in which they can communicate frequently for educational purposes. For example, Mike and other admins created the ‘Social Media, Networks and Communities Sem 1 2021 Conference’ page on Facebook as a means of communication between fellow students. As such, this page can be considered a digital community in which members can supply and extract educational information from one another for the purpose of this assessment.

    You talk about a range of interesting points in your paper. One of those being how social media aided in the ongoing learning process during COVID-19. However, the paper then goes in a different direction when you begin talking about sharing news on social media platforms. This paragraph, although interesting and well written, seems a bit out of place in regards to your previous argument about social media facilitating communication in educational communities. You also discuss the various features of Facebook and other social networking sites. I would be interested in further understanding how you think these features (such as tagging and hashtags) would be ideally utilised within an educational group on Facebook.

    Let me know your thoughts. Looking forward to your response!

    1. Hey Claudia!

      Thanks for the comment, I’m glad you enjoyed the paper. The importance of social media in the education industry will only continue to grow in the future as society transitions into a more online world.

      I completely agree that this conference is a perfect example. We are provided with an online platform that gives us the ability to communicate and collaborate with one another at a level that would not be possible otherwise.

      Thanks also for your feedback. Upon reflection, the news sharing is quite irrelevant and does take away from the argument. In the future, I’ll make more of an effort to linking things like news sharing, tagging, and hashtags to an educational sense.

      All the best!

  7. Great work with your essay. I loved that you incorporated a real time example with Covid-19, which made it increasingly relatable. I must say, I would have liked to see more links to Facebook, as you had mentioned in your abstract and introduction. I was interested in seeing how Facebook directly produced positive results for students, and I was also wondering if those statistics are as applicable now that Facebook is predominantly used by older generations. Regardless of, great essay, easy to read and and easy to follow.

    1. Hey Michelle!

      Thank you for the comment. Yes, linking more statistics and information regarding the success of Facebook in producing positive results for students would be a great idea. I think that due to COVID-19, the frequency of students using social media sites like Facebook has increased exponentially. Because of this, I can see in the near future statistics being released on if students were more or less successful with social media during the pandemic.

      Thanks again for the comment!

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