by Harriet Jermy

SOCIAL MEDIA: an educational tool at Riccarton High School

With the ever-growing influence of Social Media in our lives, it has become one of the most influential spaces for kids and youth. Teachers from Riccarton High School have begun to take advantage of these heavily student used platforms, and are using them as a positive way to connect and reach out with their students.

As Head of Art Department, Ms Blackwell (who frequently updates her Instagram page dedicated to Riccarton High Schools artwork) states “I believe that digital technologies and social media can be a powerful tool to not only engage but also to aid and connect learners globally”.   Ms Blackwell is also involved with the interactive “Flip” Learning Programme.  Joined by Ms Conyers, Mr Paewai, and Mr Thomson, who have also embraced this modern way of learning for this year, with many more teachers planning to do so in 2020. Flip Learning is where students complete their learning at home through interactive videos made by their subject teacher, then continue to complete tasks relating to the topic of the video in the next class for that subject.  Ms Blackwell states “for those of us who are flipping the learning in our classrooms we are trying to be innovative in our teaching practice and changing the ways we have previously done this.  We are changing passive learners into active learners and we are reaching every student by changing how we deliver learning content. This involves using technology and blended learning in and out of class which frees up class time (group space) for plenty of one to one with the teacher and more group learning time. This is proving to be very fruitful and is engaging and extending learners to not only own but be accountable for their own learning.”  

Many students have given positive feedback to the new learning style as doing Flip Learning allows students to learn at their own pace and come back with questions during class time about the topic of learning without the pressure of trying to learn at the same speed as their peers. 

Not only is Riccarton High introducing social platforms as a modern and innovative way of learning but the school is taking advantage of the most popular platforms such as Instagram. In February this year art students used Instagram to share photographs for a Term 1 project (February Photo A Day Challenge), as well as the Art Department having their own Instagram page which was started back in 2014. We also have the Riccarton Instagram account, used to interact with students via weekly posts such as 'Humans of Riccarton' and the notices put up on the Instagram story section.  It is widely agreed that students are more likely to see these posts and take note of them than to take time out to read the physical copies of the notices or log onto Kamar. We also have multiple student-run Instagram accounts for our various sports teams, keeping everyone up to date with the latest trips, scores, and fixtures. 

Instagram is a proving to be a valuable tool in the school's use of social media to promote support of arts, sports and our wonderful school atmosphere and is definitely a more student-friendly/popular platform than that of other websites. Social Media is undeniably becoming more of an influence in our everyday lives. As it expands and continues to influence us, Riccarton High School and our teachers are taking the opportunity to use this as a positive opportunity to stay connected as a school and to their students. Teachers hope to continue and utilize platforms like this as a learning tool in the future.