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Best Free Social Networks/Media Sites for Education

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(Image credit: iStock/pichet_w)

Social media sites and apps are a natural for education. Given that students today are digital natives and familiar with the details of these popular platforms, educators are well-advised to thoughtfully incorporate these into classroom and remote teaching. Fortunately, most social media sites and apps include controls to restrict the potentially troublesome features that tend to distract from learning. 

These social networking/media sites are free, easy to use, and offer rich opportunities for educators and students to network, create, share and learn with each other. 

Brainly
A fun social network through which students ask and/or answer questions in 21 topics, including math, history, biology, languages, and more. Students earn points by answering questions, rating comments, or thanking other students. Free basic account allows unlimited questions and free access (with ads). Parent and free teacher accounts available, and answers are verified by experts.   

Edublog
A free Wordpress blogging site that lets teachers create personal and classroom blogs. Edublog’s step-by-step guide helps users master both technical and pedagogical features. 

Litpick
A terrific free site devoted to promoting reading, Litpick connects readers with age-appropriate books and book reviews. Kids can read their peers’ book reviews or write their own, while teachers can set up online book clubs and reading groups. A can’t-miss site for educators.

TikTok
A relative newcomer on the social media scene, TikTok has exploded in popularity, with more than two billion downloads worldwide. The music video creation app is free, easy to use, and familiar to most students. Teachers can easily create a private classroom group for sharing fun and educational video projects and assignments.   

ClassHook
Bring engaging and educational movie and television clips into your classroom with ClassHook. Teachers can search the vetted clips by grade, length, series, standards, and profanity (you can’t choose your favorite profanity, but you can screen out all profanity). Once selected, add questions and prompts to the clips to get kids thinking and discussing. Free basic account allows 20 clips per month.

Edmodo
A well-known, established social media community, Edmodo provides a free and safe social media and LMS platform with a highly useful suite of moderation tools. Teachers set up classes, invite students and parents to join, then share assignments, quizzes, and multimedia content. Online discussion forums allow kids to comment, offer feedback on one another's work, and share ideas. 

edWeb
A popular website for professional learning and collaboration, EdWeb provides its one million members with the latest in certificate-eligible webinars, best practices, and research for education, while the multitude of community forums focus on diverse topics from 21st century learning to coding and robotics.

Flipgrid
Flipgrid is an asynchronous video discussion tool designed for virtual learning. Teachers post topic videos and students create their own video responses using the Flipgrid software. The original post plus all responses can be viewed and commented on, creating a vibrant forum for discussion and learning. 

Facebook
The most prominent social media site in the world, Facebook is a simple and free way for educators to network with their peers, keep up with the latest education news and issues, and share ideas for lessons and curricula. 

ISTE Community
The International Society for Technology & Education community forums are a great way for educators to share their ideas and challenges on technology, digital citizenship, online learning, STEAM, and other cutting-edge topics.

TED-Ed
A rich resource for free educational videos, TED-Ed offers much more, including pre-made lesson plans and the ability for teachers to create, customize, and share their own video lesson plans. There’s even a lesson activity page for monitoring student progress. 

Twitter
Everyone knows about Twitter. But did you know that this super-popular social networking site can be employed for education? Use Twitter to teach kids about digital citizenship, or combine it with third-party apps to extend its functionality. Hash tags such as #edchat, #edtech, and #elearning will guide education users to relevant tweets. Twitter is also an easy way to stay connected with your fellow educators and the top education issues of the day. 

MinecraftEdu
The celebrated online game Minecraft offers an education edition designed to engage kids with game-based learning. The STEM-related lessons can be individual or collaborative and focus on the problem-solving skills that students will need in every phase of their lives. Tutorials, discussion boards, and Classroom Mode make this a great place for teachers as well!

Instagram
This famous social networking site has been in the news lately, and not in a positive light. Nevertheless, Instagram’s popularity makes it a natural for teaching. Create a private classroom account, and use it to showcase lesson ideas and student work, communicate with kids and their families, and act as a hub for positive reinforcement. The platform is widely used by teachers to share their best classroom projects and concepts. 

TeachersConnect
A free networking site by teachers, for teachers, that features moderated community forums with topics including careers, literacy, mental wellness for educators, and more. TeacherConnect’s founder Dave Meyers maintains an active presence in the forums.