It’s no wonder, then, that teachers around the world are trying to spice up their virtual lesson plans by meeting their students where they spend their free time and attention: on social media platforms and games. Subnets Dedicated to education and teaching are often littered with questions about how to integrate games and social media into teaching. Minecraft, the popular city-building video game, has launched page dedicated to teachers who want to use the game in their classrooms.
Beyond pedagogy, teachers seek to reconnect with their students. Kindergarten teacher told the New York Times that TikToks keeps its students “engaged and watching me”. Fall’s most popular mobile game, Among Us, also made it into the lessons, with a student tell the times that it can “help students to be emotionally patient with their classmates and to understand different points of view”.
Buyssens says his students are engaged and active in the classroom discussions, which take place in the chat when he is on Instagram Live. If a student misses class, no problem: they upload notes to save as stories, with each slide carefully crafted into a template to maximize space in portrait mode.
“For me, it’s very important that it’s not a gimmick,” says Buyssens. “Students will see through if they know you’re doing it just to put them on Instagram. You have to show that the material you are teaching works on Instagram, TikTok or Twitch. “
Using Instagram might seem logical to Buyssens: it’s a millennial who teaches Gen Z students how to use social media for advertising and creative strategy.
But many teachers remain skeptical about the full adoption of platforms that have not traditionally been associated with work or school. A survey conducted in June by the Education Week research center found that 63% of English teachers and 57% of math teachers rated Zoom and Google Docs as effective. When it came to video games, however, educators were more wary: 27% of English teachers and 46% of math teachers said they were effective.