Thinking about Instagram for Education

As mentioned in my earlier post, I am far from a social media power user. My experience with social media revolves around Facebook and Twitter. Twitter, in particular, has been engaging in the sense that it appears to be a highly-populated site for educators and all sorts of conversations, resource sharing, and so on within the education sector. I am decently well-versed in the educational possibilities of Twitter, so instead, I decided to give Instagram a look.

First, a couple preconceived notions. I’ve long struggled to differentiate Instagram from Facebook, but it appears to be more of a content sharing format than link aggregator or sharing of posts, as Facebook would be. To view the experience from anew, I created a new Instagram account. I didn’t get far, however, without automatically being temporarily suspended, apparently under suspicion of botting. Fortunately, by providing more private information about me, Instagram felt much more comfortable with me. Of course it did…

Jumping in, it appears I can’t get far without following people. There also doesn’t appear, early on, to have groups or things like that. However, it does seem like I can click on the “explore” tab or search for specific topics. In this case, I typed in “education” and selected one of the suggestions, “education system”. The page loaded to reveal a continuing stream of pictures and videos related to the topic. Clicking on any of them revealed the comment provided by the poster, and additional comments from other people. It seems really easy to contribute.

Thinking about how this could be utilized for education leaves me a little uncertain about its efficacy. First, it seems like Instagram is unusable if one doesn’t have or create an account. As a teacher in an elementary school setting, I don’t think it’s very reasonable to ask students to create or contribute an account, so already the student-facing component seems out of the question. Thinking about my own purposes, it certainly seems like a useful tool for posting content. It does seem a little less conducive towards conversation or the provision of external links or resources. It does seem very consumption-focused, and more about what gets posted than the engagement with it, at least from my limited experience with it.

After this brief experimenting with a fresh Instagram experience, I would comment that its education-related applicability seems more limited than other mediums, such as Twitter. It doesn’t seem as conducive towards conversations between teachers, as it doesn’t have things such as threads, and the way it handles external links seems clunkier than Twitter. Overall, it might be a decent secondary content viewing tool, but ultimately less than Twitter.

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