Instagram: The Domain of Millennials

Using Instagram in Online Teaching for teens and millennials

Instagram. The domain of teens and 20-somethings; dominated by girls and young women. This one is more challenging. I have an Instagram account, partially to be a part of my four teenage daughters’ digital lives and partially out of a sense of irony (I post terrible photos and make even worse jokes).

Why use Instagram? 

Because that’s were young people are. It’s their medium. It’s the second most used social media by teens.


Social Media most used by teens.

Source: PEW Research Center

Where Twitter is about writing, Instagram is about visuals. They post photos and short videos, make comment and create links using #hashtags. And get creative using and making up #hasthags to share photos and videos, the events they attend, their artwork, favourite things I.e. cat photos).

They connect with people, friends, peers, and people they idolize, like their favourite YouTubers and artists.

 How to use Instagram for Teaching Online 

  • Connect with learners using a #hashtag for the course, sharing your photos and making comments. Encourage learners to post their own photos using the same #hashtag and make comments to model how to comment and create discussion.
  • Pose questions to learners using photos and a #hashtag; encourage learners to post their answers and their own photos and questions
  • Create Scavenger Hunts: find objects based on a given criteria, take photos, describe how they fit in your discipline. Can be used for art, art history, architecture and photography courses.
  • Have learners visit a museum, archive, library or an institution that is within their discipline: have them find objects, identify them, post about their significance, pose questions to other learners
  • Learners can create short videos to show their work, highlight their visits to institutions or events they’ve attended and comment to provide context
  • Learners can use video to post their comments about the work of other learners
  • Share your art work: sketches, drawings, paintings, sculpture, and digital photography
  • Photo journalism: create photos of events and blog about them
  • Share Instagram posts to other social media or within a learning environment

My oldest daughter is in first year in School of Art at UofM. They recently traveled to Minneapolis to participate in the first year field trip. They attended three museums/art galleries and had to complete a written assignment before the end of the trip. Rather than an written assignment, an Instagram photo journal would have been more fun, could be shared with her group using #hashtags, they could collaborate online and learners could learn from each other by sharing.

The Benefits and Challenges of Instagram

The use of Instagram for online teaching is not apparent. There are few resources available online to assist you. Instagram is about visuals (photos and video), creating #hashtags to connect to other people and making connections through short comments.

Instagram is about creating photos and videos, sharing and connecting, not about research or finding resources. In this way it’s more limited than Twitter. But is ideal for disciplines that are visual: art, art history, photography, architecture, photo journalism.

It is difficult to search Instagram. A #hashtag search will provide a stream of unfiltered posts: the good, the bad and the irrelevant.

When you post to Instagram you can also post to other social media like Twitter and Facebook.


Morrison, D. (2016) How & Why to Use Social Media to Create Meaningful Learning Assignments. Online Learning Insights. Retrieved from:

Saloman, D. (2013). Moving on from Facebook: Using Instagram to connect with undergraduates and engage in teaching and learning. Retrieved from:

Dunn, K. (2015). 10 Ways to use Instagram in the classroom. Daily Genius. Retrieved from:

Additional Comments:

My daughter’s assignment struck me as one those “disposable assignments” and since the assignment was all about visual art and reflections Instagram seemed like a good match. The first year trip is about exposure to art, but it’s also about meeting people and creating friendships and bonds. Luckily my daughter, who is very shy and introverted, met people at a coffee shop when she was forced to go look for food on the first night (that was a tense hour and a half of texting to convince her to leave the hotel while Googling for nearby restaurants). But Instagram would assist in making learners more familiar with each and creating stronger bonds. (The first year students did set up a Facebook account, but my daughter and her friends weren’t invited. And exclusion, in turn, helped them bond stronger.)


About jhounslow

Soccer enthusiast, cyclist, web developer, e-learning professional, educator, husband to a graduate student, and father of four daughters.
This entry was posted in EDTC0550, Instagram, Social Media and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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