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Tip of the Week: Tumblr in your classroom? Maybe. Just maybe.

I’ll be honest. I’m still on the fence here. Tumblr in the classroom. Yes or no? I haven’t decided but I’m wavering towards yes. If you’re not familiar with Tumblr, you need to be. Tumblr is microblogging and social networking website that many of your students are using. As of last week, there were over 200 million Tumblr blogs out there.

Think of a cross between Twitter and Facebook and you start to get a sense of what it looks like. It’s not really a tweet. It’s not really a blog. It’s not really a website. The question is

Can teachers take advantage of Tumblr to enhance teaching and learning in the classroom?

Several months ago, Terry Heick of TeachThought shared his thoughts on the question of Tumblr as a blogging tool for kids. His opinion? Yes.

Okay, this is subjective, but here’s my thought: When taking a macro view view of how and why students share thinking and information–and considering modern digital media trends, in 2014 the best way for students to blog in and out of the classroom has to be tumblr.

The truth is, every platform has its strengths and weaknesses. My argument here is pretty simple–there is no perfect platform for student blogging because everything that does exactly what a teacher wants sucks for students, and anything that is exactly what a student wants will probably get a teacher fired.

Tumblr does a commendable job of meeting the needs of both sides.

You’ll want to head over and get the full take but he lists seven quick reasons why Tumblr may be perfect for the writing / blogging / posting / literacy piece in your room:

  • Students can post by email.
  • There’s an “ask” system.
  • It’s social-by-design.
    Hashtags, sharing, reblogging, tweeting–it operates both as social media and a blogging system.
  • It’s flexible.
    It can be visual or textual; video or gifs; audio or links; conversational or one-sided.
  • It’s already on their phones.
    Well, most of them. Though they may delete it when they found out that you know.
  • It’s dead simple to use.
    Reblogging is an interesting way to share thinking–and simple too. Maybe too simple to be considered cognitive heavy lifting, but that’s all in how you use it. Liking posts, using hashtags, posting new blogs–all simple to do from a tablet, phone, laptop, or desktop.
  • It’s platform-agnostic.
    It works (almost) equally well across operating systems, much like Evernote. In fact, it can be thought of as the Evernote of blogging platforms.

How might you use Tumblr?

  • Use it to make a quick and easy to follow class website to connect with students and parents. Check out a higher ed example to give you an idea of what it might look like.
  • Use it to share and locate resources and materials. Tumblr is designed to move info around the Interwebs. So it’s easy to post writing prompts, links to primary sources, and upload multimedia. And because you can search Tumblr by tags, you can also find useful stuff such as teaching resources.
  • Use it for posting student work and creating short / long term portfolios.

Even if all you use it for is to find your own resources, it seems like a great option to add to your PLN and as a source of social studies stuff. Start with these:

Have fun!

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