5 Ways to Use Instagram in Your Course

college teaching active learning strategies

Here are 5 ways you can use Instagram in your courses to increase student engagement, showcase others’ work, and bring research to life.

There are so many ways to integrate social media into your courses to increase student engagement, encourage collaboration, and improve learning. If you haven’t already, one social media tool to try is Instagram.

Instagram gives you and your students a chance to share information in visual formats. You can capture, create, and share pictures, diagrams, graphs, video clips, etc. and bring your course content to life in different ways.


5 Ways to Use Instagram in Your Course (+ 22 Instagram sites for inspiration)

1. Take virtual field trips. I know it’s not the same as actually visiting the place, but you and your students can go on virtual field trips and explore places related to the course content.

Many zoos, aquariums, museums, parks, and farms have developed Instagram sites allowing visitors access to pictures and information about their plants, animals, and resources. Honorable mentions:

Georgia Aquarium
https://www.instagram.com/georgiaaquarium

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
https://www.instagram.com/nasagoddard

9/11 Memorial Museum
https://www.instagram.com/911memorial

Bureau of Land Management
https://www.instagram.com/mypubliclands

American Museum of Natural History
https://www.instagram.com/amnh


2. Raise awareness and start conversations about global, social, and political issues.
Find ways to integrate current issues, national conversations, and global concerns by asking students to react to, respond to, or analyze different pictures and images.

Foster healthy debates, create service-learning projects, and/or develop problem-based learning activities based on what they see, hear, and feel when they look at these images and learn more about the issues. Honorable mentions:

Zero Waste Globe
https://www.instagram.com/zerowasteglobe

New York Civil Liberties Union
https://www.instagram.com/nyclu

National Geographic
https://www.instagram.com/natgeo/

Beth Draws Things
https://www.instagram.com/bethdrawsthings

3. Make microscopic life visible. Encourage students to share pictures of what they see in the lab or curate photos from other researchers in your field. Create a collection of similar images, compare different types of photos, and analyze pictures based on your course material.

Open students’ eyes to a whole new world beyond their textbooks and show them what “real” scientists in your field are doing every day to address problems and advance our understanding of the world around us. Honorable mentions:

The Story of a Biologist
https://www.instagram.com/the_story_of_a_biologist

Biotech and Biology
https://www.instagram.com/biotech_and_biology

Zeiss Microscopy
https://www.instagram.com/zeiss_microscopy

4. Go behind the scenes. Get a look at how movies are made and how products are created. Students can learn more about the processes that bring products and ideas to life.

You can encourage students to make their own “behind the scenes” video or photo series about something they are working on. Maybe they can share their process for writing their research paper creating their own podcast, or sharing a recipe reflective of their culture. Honorable mentions:

Movies Effects
https://www.instagram.com/movies.effects

Science Channel
https://www.instagram.com/sciencechannel

How Stuff Works
https://www.instagram.com/howstuffworks

3m
https://www.instagram.com/3m

Behind the Scenes NYC
https://www.instagram.com/behindthescenesnyc


5. Get inspired by quotes from authors, speakers, leaders, and scholars.
Ask students to look for messages of inspiration, motivation, and encouragement. Or, encourage them to look for controversial or provocative quotes to reflect on, react to, and respond to. Or, look for companies that are using their brand and products to connect with larger issues to inspire their customers to take action.

Brene Brown
https://www.instagram.com/brenebrown

The Good Quote
https://www.instagram.com/thegoodquote

Sharpie
https://www.instagram.com/sharpie

Happsters
https://www.instagram.com/happsters

Dictionary.com
https://www.instagram.com/dictionarycom


Concluding Thoughts

We all learn from and benefit from information being presenting in a variety of ways, and Instagram gives you the chance to document, collect, and reinforce important concepts, moments, and events throughout your course.

You can encourage students to share Instagram pages that are most interesting to them based on the courses they are taking, the life they want to lead, and the career they hope to have. Together, your students can create a course Instagram page to highlight their experiences and showcase what they’ve learned.

And, be sure to share your work too! Your research, travel, background, and life experiences will help you connect with your students (and other scholars) and show them how much you enjoy what you do.

If you create your own Instagram site (or if you already have one!), share it with me. I’d love to see what you and your students create together.

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