Author: Rui Rocha


Historically, teachers are always looking for new ways to stimulate the motivation of their students in a classroom to provide better learning, cooperation, imagination, creativity, among others.

Before the 90s technology boom, the biggest source of knowledge and learning for young people was school, books and newspapers. However, it should be noted that not all people had access to school which made, that the mere fact of being at school was all the motivation that the students needed. Over time, it was felt a need to use outside activities, eg study visits, in order to provide an extra motivation for students. 

Nowadays, with the increasing use of computers, young people have gained new tastes and a new mindset where sometimes the fact of being at school may not be sufficiently motivating. 

We live in a society where the quantity and diversity of information is vast, and where access and availability of it, is greatly facilitated. Thus new technologies ensure that when something new happens, this same information is easily available on the Web, being immediately accessible anywhere in the world. Therefore, the use of the internet can be an asset, when properly applied in the context of learning in a classroom.  

Making use of this almost unlimited source of knowledge, which is constantly growing, today's students can be encouraged and motivated to interact in a more dynamic way with the teaching materials. Thus they themselves can contribute providing other content that may be relevant to the discussion of academic content.

Two "tools" that can be used interactively to try to stimulate young people's motivation, not only due to the popularity they have gained, but also for their functionality, are YouTube and social networks (Facebook will be used as an example). The use of these "tools" can be beneficial in order to increase student’s motivation levels due to the type of access to information that they provide.

The motivation of this article relates to the fact of how can these "tools" be used as teaching methods. Both have several features that can be used by a teacher in their activity, such as:

YouTube is an excellent repository for audiovisual content, which allows, for example, to create channels where you can group content, which makes  video sharing extremely simple and organizing content by subject;

Groups on Facebook, that may consist of a specific class of students or by students of a given school year and allow to facilitate and speed up video sharing, such as video lessons;

Facebook Posts, can be used by teachers to launch challenges for their students, allowing them to answer on the page itself in a fast and simple way, stimulating the pro-activity, imagination and creativity of students;

The connections on Facebook, allow sharing sites with educational content;

Finally the events on Facebook, allowing teachers to disseminate important dates, such as the dates of exams or the delivery of a paper.

The use of these "tools" have grown exponentially in recent years, and for example, YouTube has served as a facilitator of artists, Mia Rose [2] [3], new sports, Parkour, which was widely distributed among young people and gained thousands of fans. 

As with all, over use of these "tools" can have consequences such as an event that happened recently in Portugal, where violence between a student and a teacher was filmed, and made available later on in YouTube. Another controversial case was the assault of a girl by two other older girls, and this same aggression was published on Facebook. These situations tell us that uncontrolled use may not be beneficial.

In terms of education, reports exist of teachers, mainly in Brazil, already using these "tools" as teaching methods, and there are also studies showing that these can be good options to improve our education and motivation within of a classroom. 

However, I believe that for a successful use of these "tools" strategies should be set, which should define how to group content, what kind of challenges should be released to students, how to communicate these challenges, for example if through audiovisual contents, if through a post on Facebook, and especially how to analyze the response that students give to the use of these "tools" in teaching.

The use of these "tools" also raises other issues, such as the language to be used, because this may influence the relationship that exists between students and teachers and consequentially influences the successful use of these mechanisms. Still, I think the advantages outweigh the possible problems and so I ask, why not use these "tools" in Portuguese teaching?