MET:Instagram in the Classroom

From UBC Wiki

Instagram in the Classroom refers specifically to using a mobile device app called Instagram, which captures still photos and short video clips that can be used in an educational setting. The main purpose of using Instagram as a tool for teachers is to develop and augment student learning across all of the multiple intelligences. Allowing students to engage in photo sharing with the context of learning outcomes strengthens students' knowledge of the world but also bring an intrinsic motivation to the work they are doing in class.

Instagram Overview

Instagram is a fun, fast, and easy way to capture stills and short video with your mobile device. This free app allows users to edit, apply effects and filters to pictures or videos and share them with social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. By having an Instagram account, users can follow other users, make comments, and tag themselves within the content. The main purpose of Instagram is to document your life and memories to share it with friends, and witness their lives as well.

History of Instagram

Instagram was developed by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger and launched in October 2010 [1]. The name “Instagram” is a combination of the words instant and telegram[2]. In the beginning, Instagram was only available for Apple iPhone, but in April of 2012 Instagram became available for Android mobile devices[3]. According to Apple’s itunes, Instagram now has 150 million users[4].


Getting Started
  • Step 1: Visit Instagram website at:
  • Step 2: Choose platform of Apple or Android device
  • Step 3: Download app for free
  • Step 4: Set up account
  • Step 5: Pick username
  • Step 6: Upload a profile picture

Photo Sharing

With Instagram you can take pictures and short videos (up to 15 seconds) [5] and give both titles and then share them on sites such as: Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and Tumblr. When you take a photo with Instagram it is immediately public on your Instagram account. By changing settings to “Private” people have to ask permission before they can follow the user and see content posted by user[6].

Photo Editing

One of the most powerful aspects of the Instagram app is the ability to edit photos and videos with different filters that produce retro and new age looks[7]. Additional filters can be purchased in apps store for both iPhone and Android platforms. Applying filters is very easy, with a one-click application that changes the look of the photo in an instant.


Instagram is based on having followers and the user following other people. By following a user their photos show up in your photo stream and you can browse through both pictures and videos that are posted[8]. A user can make comments and also ‘like’ what other users are posting. Users can also invite people by linking Instagram to a users address book.

Instagram Tutorial

Using Instagram to take Photos:

Making a Video with Instagram

Using Instagram in the Classroom

Technology continues to change the way in which students learn. Mobile devices are an example of one of the most powerful vehicles to bring that change. Embracing the use of mobile devices and apps will not only enhance the learning environment but also instill a sense of curiosity and motivation in the classroom.

The popularity of Instagram with students and the fact that is a no cost app makes it a wonderful learning tool[9]. Instagram presents multiple learning possibilities with connecting visuals along with short videos that enhance curriculum outcomes. Having students author their own media provides opportunities for rich discussion in class and with instructors. An area of consideration when using Instagram is that users have to be 13 years of age to be able to use the application[10]. Along with these considerations, guidelines and responsibilities have to be clearly defined with the class and the teacher to safely and effectively use Instagram in an educational setting. Having students co-author with their teacher a contract that lays out the rules is a perfect starting point for implementing Instagram in your classroom.

Subject Applications Using Instagram


Have students use Instagram to take photos showing:

  1. Parallel lines
  2. Symmetry
  3. Axis
  4. Perpendicular lines
  5. Adjacent
  6. Equal
  7. Even
  8. Reflection
  9. Angles
  10. Congruent
English Language Arts
  1. Have students post a picture of a novel they are reading.
  2. Photograph something that summarizes the story.
  3. Photograph words that give meaning to the story.
  4. Photograph things that represent the main character in the story.
  5. Record a short video that presents an alternative setting to the story.

Have students post a picture of:

  1. Ecosystems
  2. Elements
  3. Outside Habitats
  4. Stages of Dissection in Biology
  5. Stages of chemical change
  6. Record short videos showing hypotheses before experiment is conducted.
Social Studies
  1. Have students record a short video why they would make a great class president for student government.
  2. Have students use Instagram to post pictures of cultural items within the community.
  3. Have students photograph or record short videos of signs and symbols within the community.
  4. Have students recreate famous historical moments in time.
  5. Have students imagine how famous people in history would have used Instagram.
  6. Have students practice photojournalism by covering events that are happening in the school.
General School Applications
  1. Have students use Instagram for recording yearbook photographs.
  2. Have students use photos for flyers and posters for student council.
  3. Have students create Student of the Week photos.
  4. Record both photos and short video clips of significant movements on school field trips.
  5. Document bulletin boards and make signs for school events.
  6. Create photos for new students for teachers and staff.

Critical Perspectives

Currently there are huge arguments in the educational field that the use of mobile devices is distracting and take away from the productivity of the classroom. Ontario elementary school teachers have even gone as far as to vote to have mobile devices banned from classrooms altogether[11]. Perspective is starting to shift with regards to utilizing mobile devices and apps such as Instagram as a positive learning tool. Scholastic one of the leaders in education publishing has recently published an article entitled “Mobile Learning Technologies for 21st Century Classrooms.” Author Marc Presky gives the clear message that “students have changed and are no longer the people our education system was designed to teach.”[12] Students are now engaged in learning most effectively when they are using the latest technological gadgets due to their immense comfort level with these devices[13].

Stop Motion Video - Instagram in the Classroom -


  1. Lux, Kelly. "What is Instagram and Why Is It So Popular?." Information Space What is Instagram and Why Is It So Popular Comments. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Mar. 2014.
  2. Systrom, Kevin, and Mike Krieger. "Instagram." FAQ •. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Mar. 2014.
  3. Lux, Kelly . "Search results for ‘instagram’." Social Lux. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Mar. 2014.
  4. Apple Corporation . "Instagram." App Store. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Mar. 2014.
  5. Instagram. "Instagram." Blog. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Mar. 2014.
  6. Patterson, Ben . "7 must-know privacy tips for Instagram newbies | here's the thing." 7 must-know privacy tips for Instagram newbies | here's the thing. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Mar. 2014.
  7. Moreau, Elise . "What Is Instagram?." Web Trends. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Mar. 2014.
  8. Lux, Kelly. "What is Instagram and Why Is It So Popular?." Information Space What is Instagram and Why Is It So Popular Comments. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Mar. 2014.
  9. Meyers, Michelle. "How Instagram became the social network for tweens." CNET News. CBS Interactive, 8 Sept. 2012. Web. 9 Mar. 2014.
  10. Instagram. "Instagram." Terms of Use •. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Mar. 2014. <
  11. News, CBC. "Elementary teachers' union updates electronic device policy." CBCnews. CBC/Radio Canada, 18 Aug. 2013. Web. 9 Mar. 2014.
  12. Scholastic. "Mobile Learning Technologies for 21st Century Classrooms." Scholastic Publishes Literacy Resources and Children's Books for Kids of All Ages. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Mar. 2014.
  13. Scholastic. "Mobile Learning Technologies for 21st Century Classrooms." Scholastic Publishes Literacy Resources and Children's Books for Kids of All Ages. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Mar. 2014.