Instagram was founded in 2010 by Kevin Systorm and Mike Krieger. Instagram is a video and photo-sharing social networking platform. The platform can be accessed via an app or a web interface.

General features

  • Up to 2000 text characters per post.
  • Private messaging
  • Tagging of content
  • Hashtags
  • Option to incorporate multiple videos and images in one post.
  • Enabled story feature that allows users to share and post content (over 24 hours) to a visible feed.


Main teaching features

  • Classroom accounts: Setting up of classroom (module specific) account enables the sharing of works, information, and other content with students.
  • Hosting of live streams: Enables delivering sessions to mass cohorts. In-built features allow students so to interact with the teacher through for example real-time comments. It is also possible to make other educators or students co-hosts that enable the dual participation of the session delivery.
  • Sources: Searching for and sharing sources that can be shared with students.
  • Sharing of work: Work may be shared and presented by lecturers and students as part of in-class activities or for example virtual exhibitions.
  • Analysis tasks: Using the platform to conduct in-class analysis activities of for example art visuals.
  • Hashtags: Exploration of a subject or topic-specific Hashtags.
  • Interactivity: Post interactive information and mini-games for the students.
  • Instagram stories: Enables users to capture photographs that can be edited and enhanced with multiple effects and layers. After 24 hours, in the primary feed, the uploaded picture, or video expires, and the post will appear in the secondary feed.
  • Instagram direct: Allows private messaging with students and colleagues.
  • Carousel: Enables the adding and uploading of multiple sources in one post.
  • Boomerang effects: Enable the speeding up of photos and then play them forth and back as a looping video.
  • Filters and effects: You can choose between different filters and effects (like brightness and contrast) to edit your videos and photographs.


Main concerns

  • Inappropriate content: Using Instagram in the classroom risks students accessing and being exposed to inappropriate content during sessions. Students may be distracted, and it may negatively impact their mental health.
  • Virality: If Instagram is used for activities and tasks you may want to consider approving students’ posts and comments as part of the class activity. This will limit the chance of inappropriate content going viral.
  • Peer pressure: When using Instagram students may be exposed to peer pressure that may result in anxiety and impact students’ well-being. You may need to consider providing alternative learning methods if students do not feel comfortable using Instagram.

Read more about how to stay safe online go to:

Online Safety and Planning Checklist

Online safety and wellbeing: Self-Help


Questions before you start

  • Do you consider keeping Instagram accounts private? If so, do you have sufficient knowledge about the management of privacy settings on Instagram?
  • Do you have a system in place that enables you to check the appropriateness of students’ posts and comments?
  • Do you have a clear plan and structure for the content that you want students to engage with?
  • Do you analyse potential Hashtags before sessions?
  • Do you analyse and observe what credible Instagram sources and users are that students may follow?


Case study

Maria Angel Ferrero (2019) showcases how she used Instagram for teaching and learning. She used Instagram as follows.

  1. She posted pictures to engage with students and to support their learning through visual stimulation of taught content. She also created study cards in form of Instagram posts where she summarised lectures, in form of bullet points, and invited students to the posts. What she mentions to be the ‘best’ was the use of 60-second videos to explain concepts through talk or animations.
  2. She used the live stream option for a question-and-answer session. Her idea was formed around reducing the number of emails with questions and answers that followed the hours or days after the lectures. She scheduled an Instagram question-and-answer lives session and communicated the date and time with students. One day before the session she set up an invitation post with a reminder for students to prepare questions and answers before the session.
  3. She used Instagram stickers to announce short quizzes applied as a starter or preliminary lecture activities.
  4. She also used Instagram to showcase students’ stories about their achievements and praise their academic efforts.
  5. She used Instagram video stories to conduct short assignments (after lecture hours). Students were asked to complete lecture reviews of a specific topic or article via 15-second videos. The short time frame teaches students to be concise, and direct during presentations.
  6. Further, in my own (ongoing) PhD research academics in Humanities and Arts faculties used Instagram to assess virtual student exhibitions, teach students how to develop online campaigns, help students to conduct research using hashtags, and to share visual material.


Useful links