If you’re 20 or older, you know what it’s like growing without a smartphone. You also know what it’s like growing without Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and the rest of them. There was nothing too bad about growing up without these gadgets, apps and websites, so us old folks tend to conclude that growing up with them is no good.
Smartphones and social networks can be a huge distraction factor for kids in school, and especially at home when they should be doing their schoolwork. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. We’ve already shown you some brilliant ways to use Twitter for education, some educational iPad apps for kids, and even ways to make use of Wolfram Alpha for education. But what about Instagram? Anyone with an Instagram account (or anyone with kids) knows they’re all on Instagram, uploading and editing photos, liking other photos, commenting, etc.
Like it or not, the way kids use Instagram cannot be ignored, and what’s the best way to beat a problem? Join it, of course! Below you’ll find several smart ways to utilize Instagram for educational purposes that are fun for all concerned, and are bound to grasp kids’ attention much more than traditional homework.
Note: Not all kids own a smartphone. Some of the suggestions below do not require an Instagram account, and therefore do not require a smartphone. Instagram can be accessed on the Web as well, without using a smartphone. Using a parent’s smartphone for an assignment is also possible.
Assign Instagram Homework
Photo by: valentina955
Students spend time on Instagram anyway, so why not give them assignments on Instagram? It will still be a school assignment, and therefore not as fun as just taking random photos, but it’s still more exciting than “read pages 1-23 and answer the following questions”.
So how does this work? Some ideas are to use a special account for these things, to where you can upload a photo for the kids to find, and ask them to write something about it. You can also ask them to find a photo they like or a photo that has to do with a certain topic, and write about that. This can be anything from what they think of it, what’s important about it, describing what they’re seeing, etc.
The assignment itself depends on the age of the students and the topic they’re studying. You can even have the students download the photo and do some simple edits on it using a free image editor, or even using Instagram itself, and then upload it in its new form.
Upload Homework To Instagram
While doing some research for this post, I stumbled onto Lisa Highfill and her @HighfillCrew Twitter account. Lisa is a 5th grade teacher, and as part of her teaching, asks the students to capture moments of their lives and upload them to Instagram, with a short description of up to 140 characters. This teaches kids both creativity, and the skill needed to describe only what’s important in one sentence.
This is just one way to have kids upload their assignments to Instagram. You can send kids to find and photograph something specific that relates to what was taught in class; you can ask for group assignments where each takes one photo of a certain group theme, followed by a written assignment that explains it; you can even ask then to take a photo of their own “regular” homework, and say something about that. This method can be used in an infinite number of ways, and can spice up any boring homework assignment.
Long Term Assignments
Instagram can be used for education in summer time too, or over any other long period, whether off school or during the school year. Instead of giving kids yet another boring summer homework assignment describing what they did, let them take photos of it, and describe each photo in a short sentence. You can set a special hashtag for the assignment, and tell the kids to tag it accordingly. The full assignment can be a set of photos showing what they did this summer, how they planted a vegetable garden, how they learned to ride a horse, how they did a science experiment, etc.
For this kind of assignment, you can even use Instagram video, which is a great way to show off a longer process in a 15-seconds video. This is also a super easy way for kids to create their own edited videos without messing around with complicated editing tools.
Teach Art & Photography
Despite what you might think, Instagram can actually be a great tool for learning about art and photography. To start, smartphones are much easier to handle than digital cameras, and can therefore be used to teach kids the basics of photography, light, composition, etc. While many kids use their Instagram account to posts photos of themselves and their friends, this is not necessarily due to lack of artistic skills. Assignments that require taking an a photo in a certain light, using a certain filter, etc., can teach kids to make more out this tool called Instagram.
Open A Class Account/School Account
A class account and a school account are a great way to keep kids motivated and to keep in touch even when not in class. Kids can suggest photos to be added to the class account, and record the class’ adventures in and out of school. This can also be used to hold contests, like photo of the week, where kids need to find or take photos, and the selected ones get published in the class account. There are endless uses for these accounts, you just need some creativity!
What Do You Use?
How do you picture Instagram as an educational tool? Whether you’re a parent, a teacher, or a kid yourself, I’d love to hear your own Instagram ideas. We’re lucky to have such interesting ways to interact with each other, why not use them to the best of our abilities?