Written By Damon Enkeboll, Master of Special Projects for Enhanced Prep
It should come as no surprise that today’s youth love the internet. The whole world is available at the touch of a phone screen. Through apps and websites like Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, and Twitter, high schoolers can interact with their friends instantly. According to the Pew Research Center, 95% of US teens have a smartphone, 72% use Instagram, and 69% use Snapchat. With these apps’ popularity, digital services are becoming more and more common in the education system.
It seems common sense to educate utilizing a platform student are fluent in. Education brands such as Khan Academy, the College Board, and even Enhanced Prep use Instagram as a platform to post SAT practice questions, tutorials, and more. Khan Academy has 142 thousand followers on Instagram: cleverly hidden between the usual Instagram content of cat videos and inspirational quotes you can find quizzes, math tips, and relevant facts. The College Board’s Instagram is much of the same, with daily practice SAT questions and motivational content about educational success.
Beyond companies, many high schools are on social media as well. In our social media interactions with schools, we have noticed that many high schools use Instagram to connect with their students, using the platform to post instant news about school events, classes, and closures. Schools often have separate pages for various sports teams as well. These give an opportunity for students to share team scores and more, building a sense of pride in their school and friends’ achievements.
Social media isn’t the only way that education brands and schools are interacting with students via modern technology. With a whopping 97% of teenage boys and 83% of teenage girls saying they play video games in one form or another, video games are another tool for education. Kahoot!, an educational game software developed in 2013, has over 50 million monthly active users. The software allows teachers to gauge student learning and development based on their answers on quizzes and games. Because of its overwhelming success in schools, Kahoot! is currently valued at near $300 million.
Big tech companies have taken notice of the success of educational applications, too. Microsoft has developed an entire suite of tools to assist teachers using computers. After purchasing the game Minecraft in 2014, Microsoft released Minecraft: Education Edition. Minecraft: Education Edition allows teachers to play with their students to build projects together, as well as teach anything from basic arithmetic to biodiversity, renewable energy sources, and chemistry. The platform comes with lesson plans for elementary school through high school. Minecraft is the best-selling video game of all time, with 176 million copies sold and 112 million active monthly users.
Schools and educational brands are beginning to make the smart move to social media platforms and video games as sources of alternate learning. Students who may dislike school or find classroom settings uninspiring can discover a newfound interest in a subject if it is presented to them using a platform that they enjoy. When used correctly, social media applications and games can be a valuable asset to teachers and students.