This book is for educators, parents, and community partners!

Resources, ideas, examples, for both beginners and experts.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Social Media in the Classroom

picture by ivanpw
More and more, classroom teachers are making use of social media in the classroom. At first, there was great resistance from teachers, administrators, and IT staff.  Teachers had to take time out of already overtaxed schedules to learn the technology (we can all relate) and then to learn how to use it effectively for instruction. Administrators had to make decisions that could come back to haunt them. Someone might lose their job or their credibility. For IT staff, it meant more work in terms of support and also in terms of the safety of their network where critical data is utilized and stored. Ultimately, they had to open the floodgate (ports on the firewall) and let the "wild rumpus" start. Eventually, as we have observed with the emergence of desktop and instructional technology in the classroom since the mid 1980s, technology as a part of our culture and therefore part of learning cannot be denied. From the time the computer was made available to the individual and the Internet became accessible to all, there was no turning back.

When I first began writing Connecting Students to S.T.E.M. Careers, Social Networking Strategies, one of the top issues barring the integration of social media in the classroom was the blocking of blogs, YouTube, Facebook, and other social media by school district firewalls, by the people making those decisions. But Zeitgeist can't be denied. Everyone was using it at home and businesses had incorporated social networking seemingly overnight, as soon as the hundredth monkey discovered its value as a no-cost marketing and communication tool. Educators in the know wrote articles and presented workshops. "We have to deal with it," said education writer Patrick J. McCloskey in the 2009 Teacher Magazine article. "Locking out the sites and tools of this new world our kids live in will render us irrelevant and useless when our students need us most...many of our students know how to reach a larger audience more quickly than any school district memo could ever hope to...our students need our help to make them understand how powerful that is....We can build the 24/7/365 school if we embrace the technologies our students are already using."

This sentiment and thousands like it flooded the education media highway and before you could say Jack Sprat could eat no fat, kids were bringing their cell phones, lap tops and iPads into the classroom. One report in early 2011 listed, for the month of February, 550,000,000 Facebook users; 95,800,000 had joined Twitter, and over 42 million people were using Nings such as Classroom 2.0 and Flat Classroom. The vanguard now has instant data.

Today it's safe to say that we've wandered far enough into the woods that there's no going back. Perhaps it's time to review why use social media in the classroom. Here are a few suggestions related to the Career book:
  • learn about careers in fields like environmental science from the professionals in those fields 
  • ...prepare for the future workplace
  • be proficient in digital technology skills including teamwork/collaboration
  • learn how to use the tools effectively, safely and legally
  • be able to evaluate and share content
  • learn what's real and what's a scam
  • discover how many ways science, technology and art are a part of the way we live and work
  • motivate students by allowing them to engage in and direct their learning based on personal passions
  • help students discover they, too, can achieve anything
  • tap students' imaginations about their futures and their personal potential
  • provide them with an up-close look at the world without having to leave the classroom
  • allow space for young people to begin to imagine a future outside the realm of their own experiences
We have always known that people learn better in context. With careful guidance by teachers and parents, young people can harness what they do for fun on the Internet to build a community of professional partners in the classroom.

Please join the blog and share how your students are using social media in the classroom.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I appreciate your input and will review your post promptly.