Online Social Activism in the Classroom

#blacklivesmatter #IstandwithAhmed #bringbackourgirls

Photo Credit: Jessika Torres Flickr via Compfight cc

Do you recognize any of these hashtags? These are all social movements that were created online.  Do they work? What is the impact that they can have? These are all questions that I had when we first discussed social activism online.  The article Hashtag activism can effect real-world change,  discusses how the #blacklivesmatter made a difference.  It states that “The primary goals of social media use among our interviewees were education, amplification of marginalized voices, and structural police reform”.  Therefore, there was a purpose behind their social movement online.  Further, the article discusses that through the hashtag, it connected people who may not have otherwise have been connected.  Therefore, those who may not have shared their stories before have shared their stories in communities that support them.

Can Online Social Activism be Used in the Classroom?

Yes, it absolutely can be used effectively in the classroom.  In fact, it should be discussed in the classroom.  Specifically, in upper elementary and high school, there will be many students who have accounts, such as Twitter or Facebook, where these social movements exist and therefore students may be engaged in them.  We must show our students how to effectively take part in them and educate our students how to participate in these movements if they choose.  To do this, we can show examples of online activist discussions online that are productive and compare it to online activist discussions that are not productive.  As teachers, we must show our students how to participate in these online activist movements productively.  By bringing these discussions into the classroom, it shows how powerful these online movements can be.

Photo Credit: SchultzMyersLawFirm Flickr via Compfight cc

As part of including social justice in the classroom, we must teach our students what makes a social movement meaningful and productive.  To do this, we may view different activist videos and critique them or praise them.  For example, we must teach our students if pouring ice over our head for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is the best way to raise awareness and money for ALS or if there is another way.  By having these discussions, students will be able to discern how to participate in social movements online and decide if they will get involved in a social movement when it arises in the future.

Even if students are not engaged online with social movements, we can teach them about social activism through participating in Pink Shirt Day or Orange Shirt Day.  By teaching about these, we are raising awareness amongst our school about these important movements.  By participating in these events, young students will recognize that people from all over are participating in such an event.  A teacher may do this by searching the hashtag on Twitter and showing the class how many others are participating.  It is then important that the class makes a plan of action to make a difference.  It is not enough to simply where your pink shirt, but an action must occur as well.

I believe that teaching online social activism is a choice that every teacher has to make. Do they want to sit back or do they want to be engaged in a meaningful way? I believe that we must be engaged in these social movements online and teach our students how to participate in them in a meaningful and productive way.


2 thoughts on “Online Social Activism in the Classroom

  1. I can’t love this post enough! Getting our students engaged in what is happening around them is a very big deal and I think it leads to our students becoming engaged citizens. They know they can change the world, so, they do!


    • Thanks for commenting Robbi! I truly believe that getting students engaged will help them grow as people and I believe that it will help others in society. I believe sometimes students think, how is one person going to change the world, but by getting them involved in online social activism, the students are able to see how many others are on the same page as them in terms of helping others!

      Liked by 1 person

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