Social media has become so engrained in many individuals daily practices, so much so, that some don’t know how to cope without it. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Snapchat, etc. have widened the doors of communication. We can now communicate to each other through photographs, videos, status updates, etc. While these social media venues are great for our daily social interactions, they seem to have a bad rap when it comes to being in our daily lives at school.
My question to all of you nay sayers or those of you on the fence, is this: Isn’t learning supposed to be a social experience?
While there are large concerns like safety, privacy and ownership surrounding the use of social media, there are some wonderful benefits to utilizing these tools within the classroom. There must be some groundwork laid on our part as educators, simply because most of our current classroom practices are not ready to introduce the use of social media as an acceptable use of learning. Our students are also not accustomed to the use of social media for learning. In order to introduce and successful integrate the use of social media into the classroom, we must teach our students how to safely navigate and interact with social media for learning purposes. We must teach them about privacy and how anything posted leaves a permanent digital footprint. We must teach them how to properly borrow/share others original ideas, and how to protect their own. This will take quite a bit of time and effort on quite a few peoples part, however, the impact it will have on the learning experience can only be positive. “Social networking tools offer opportunities for innovative, participative pedagogical practice within traditional institutional frameworks. However, tensions continue to develop within this space: between creativity and security, personal and professional identity, privacy and openness. We argue that iSchools are uniquely positioned to create proactive, adaptive policies guiding the pedagogical use of social media and offer initial recommendations toward the crafting of such policies. If we expect information school graduates to be proficient and critical users of perpetually evolving social media technologies, we need to create learning environments that support the ethical, reflective and effective use of these tools” (Nathan, MacGougan, and Shaffer, pp. 112).
The last argument that I would like to make, is pointed out in the quotation above. If companies are expecting to hire technologically savvy individuals who are well versed in an array of social media, then we must take the time to use these tools in our schools. Starting them off in college is not enough time for our students to figure out how to use social media tools for learning. I would go so far as to say that by college most of the students have been using social media for at least 5 to 6 years. That’s five to size years of untapped potential!
Here is a great article by Edutopia that will help you determine if social media is relevant, what the myths surrounding the use of social media in the classroom, and 12 ways teachers are already using social media in the classroom. Click here to read the full article:
Nathan, L., MacGougan, A., & Shaffer, E. (2014). If Not Us, Who? Social Media Policy and the iSchool Classroom. Journal of Education for Library and Information Science, 55(2), 112-132.