Assistant Professor, California State University, Fullerton
Have You Heard Of Snapchat?
If you know any teens you have probably heard of Snapchat. You may have even been convinced to dabble with it yourself and see if it is a real world technology. Nevertheless, there are several prospective educational uses, but let me first give you an overview of the the app.
What Is Snapchat
If you are new to Snapchat it is a mobile-device-only app that takes still images or videos that you can share with specific people (friends) for only 10 seconds, or you can add it to “your story” for 24 hours.
The direct shares do have the ability to be replayed only once, and if the viewer takes a screenshot of it, the creator is notified. Content in your story is live for 24 hours and can be replayed as many times as demanded.
Just like any other social media platform, which have all become real world technology, you can pick and choose your privacy settings. You can choose to specifically share content with one or more people or you can post content to your story which will share it with everyone who follows you.
After a few minutes of exploring you may consider some of the potential negative uses of this ubiquitous app. Regardless of potential inappropriate uses, that is no reason to forgo it for educational uses.
The key is to have an open conversation with your students about acceptable use, just like any new device, app, website, or other real world technology.
On the creative side, the app lets you add captions, filters, emojis, and even some new creative Photoshop-like features. With a little bit of exploration and tinkering you will be able to figure it out with a small learning curve.
Additionally, Snapchat has a pretty decent blog outlining their updates and features, http://snapchat-blog.com/. Now that you have a bit of orientation, let’s discuss a few academic uses.
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Should You Use Snapchat?
The question may arise, “Why should I use Snapchat, I can foresee so many obstacles?” The short answer is, it keeps things interesting and gives you another way to connect with your students.
Students love social media, if they are already on it, they are more likely to connect with you over content if they have questions than seeking you out in the ways in which YOU want to connect.
Since you are restricted to 10 second segments in Snapchat it requires a bit of planning. I have seen athletic trainers provide workout and nutrition tips posted in several short 10 second bursts to their stories.
Since the stories are live for 24 hours, I can go back and review them as often as I need to. As an educator this is a great tool for you to send out reminders.
Capture a 10-second video of you reminding them to bring their permission slips the next day, answer a question you got in a later class that you forgot to mention in your earlier periods, explain a complex problem, or pose a cliff hanger on the material you will cover the next day.
As for student uses, have them record themselves working out a problem, ask you a question, capture their favorite theme in the reading, or take pictures of their favorite displays on a field trip with captions.
All these can be posted to their stories or sent to you or their group members directly. There is a lot of potential here. Again, I urge you to open the conversation up to your students, and ask them for their ideas on how to use this app in your class.
I am sure they’ll have some great ideas. If you are using Snapchat already with your students, I’d love to hear how. Please comment below.
A colleague of mine also wrote a blog post on his experience with Snapchat. If you want to read more check out his post, http://www.billselak.com/2016/snapchat.