So recently I wondered how I could use Snapchat in my classroom.
It didn’t take me long to figure something out!
So, Snapchat has a bit of a bad reputation because of its “volatile” messaging system. Basically, one sends or receives messages that, once viewed, disappear. There a couple of fears for this. First, a student may receive a message which contains inappropriate content — but then it disappears, so the sender escapes consequences. I could see a message recipient become the target of harassment or bullying this way. But the recipient could also be an accomplice; perhaps the inappropriate message was wanted, asked for, or some kind of furtive communication. There is also an issue where the sender assumes that their message is ephemeral and will disappear, but the recipient may screenshot it and share it out with others, which could be a privacy concern.
And all that stuff is way over my head in an elementary classroom anyway! I don’t want to begin to worry about it! Ugh!
Then again, Snapchat selfie filters are fabulously fun. I figured out a way I wanted to use them, too — to feature our students of the month. But I didn’t want to accidentally send or receive any messages on Snapchat during the making-of process. So this is what I did:
I went to the App Store on my iPad and searched for Snapchat. I changed the search parameter for “iPhone only.” See, Snapchat needs a phone number associated with it to send and receive messages and find your friends through your contacts. But it didn’t prevent me from downloading the app to the iPad and creating an account using my school email address. When prompted for a phone number, I simply continued without inputing one. Very soon I had access to the app, just not to the part where you can send and receive messages. I also realized that I could save the images and videos I was taking to the iPad itself by pressing the “save” icon. I’m used to seeing save icons that look like floppy disks, but Snapchat’s save icon is an arrow pointing downwards into a tray close to the bottom left corner of the screen.
You could also just screenshot them, but I find that difficult on a cumbersome, covered iPad. It’s easier on my phone, but I also don’t need all the icons clogging up the view. Plus, I was taking video, not photos.
So using this app I created another student of the month slideshow, which is good because I am several months behind in those. Next week I will continue playing catch-up and also test drive an app that is supposed to be pretty similar to SnapChat: MSQRD, or Masquerade. This app, recently acquired by Facebook, has more regularly available selfie filters. But instead of having its own messaging system, it encourages you to upload your selfies to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. It also saves automatically to the camera roll.
Word of warning! When apps like these feature a sponsored filter, it may or may not be one you want to share with your students. For example, on April 20, Snapchat featured a filter sponsored by a Comedy Central stoner comedy that featured the word “bong.” The next day it switched to a fast food sandwich, and today there are no sponsored filters among the featured ones at all. So maybe check it each day before handing it off to students, I guess.