Out of all the social networks that exist, I would say Tumblr is my favorite. It is a special place, where you can share pictures and videos and find other people with the same interests as you. You create your own blog, which becomes some sort of a little personal bubble that you can design and forge the way you want to. You can find everything on Tumblr – from cat jokes to philosophy essays to artistic portfolios. That’s what I love about it. Sometimes you may feel like you’re the only person on the planet who likes something – but you’ll find on Tumblr that it is absolutely not the case.
When you sign up on Tumblr, you create a blog. You choose your URL, and then you can design it with different themes and different colors. You can even build it yourself if you know a little about HTML – but that’s quite a challenge. Once you’ve created your blog, you have your dashboard (it’s a little like the News Feeds on Facebook) and you can follow other blogs that are of interest to you. It’s that simple.
When I thought about using Tumblr in a classroom, I first said to myself : “Oh no. Bad idea. This website of crazy.” Because it is. But then I thought a little more, and I found some ideas. Then some more ideas. And now, I’m convinced that it can be a great tool to use in a classroom. (http://www.bizjournals.com/buffalo/print-edition/2012/01/06/teachers-students-find-tumblr-clicks.html?page=all) You can create a network of blogs for your class, for example. Why not ask your students to each create a blog and then to follow each other ? That way they can see what everyone else posts and shares. You can set up a “class blog”, ran by you, where you can post resources, pictures or videos to help the students for any assignment they might have. Like a group on Facebook, creating a small Tumblr network for your classroom can really be a great way to share important information or resources. Tumblr is especially great for pictures.
Another great aspect of Tumblr is the “ask” option. Every blog has what Tumblr calls an “ask box”. When you go on somebody else’s blog, you can go on their ask box and write a question to them. The message will be sent directly to the person’s inbox, who will see a little red icon appearing on their dashboard, indicating they have a new message. They can answer the question, privately or publicly (if they choose this option, both the question and the answer will be posted on the blog as a post). This can be a great tool if the students have a question to ask their teachers – way easier than sending emails or waiting for next class.
Tumblr is full of weird blogs dedicated to weird stuff, such as cats wearing hats or to some extra in a popular television series, but it also full of blogs by creative and awesome people. Photographers, painters, sculpters, editors, graphists, the list goes on. Asking your students to go on Tumblr can be a great way to make them discover art and culture – and the website always has great suggestions for you. If you go on http://www.tumblr.com/spotlight/, the website randomly generates a category for you (for example : architecture) and suggests great blogs to you. You can also choose the category on the right sidebar if you have a specific assignement for the student. Why not make them follow interesting blogs about the subject to make them discover more about it ? (There’s even an ‘Education’ section !)
Tumblr is full of other resources. There is basically a blog for everything you might need. Your students need to get creative in their writing ? Suggest them http://awesomewritingprompts.tumblr.com. They are doing an art project and need resources ? There is a blog for that (http://artresourcecollection.tumblr.com). Many teachers have their own blog and share stuff for other teachers, like this one here (http://girlwithalessonplan.tumblr.com). There’s even a blog about Garfield comics… without Garfield (http://garfieldminusgarfield.net). I told you there was a blog for everything.
All jokes aside, I think Tumblr could be a great tool in the classroom (http://www.emergingedtech.com/2013/01/how-teachers-are-using-tumblr-in-the-classroom/). Of course, it would have to be used carefully, like every social network. There are some dark sides to Tumblr that you don’t want your students to see. You can always make them use an extension call XKit (http://xkit-extension.tumblr.com) which allows you to create blacklists (things you don’t want to see on your dashboard), but if you follow the right blogs nothing bad should happen. You can also ask your students to set up a password to the blogs, and give a class password, so that the classroom and only the classroom will have access to the blogs.
Tumblr is one of many social networks, but I would recommend it because it is interactive, special, and fun. The students will be able to get creative and to have their own blog. Also, it is awesome. Do you need a better reason ? 🙂