Do you use social media?
This morning a colleague was kind enough to share with me an opinion piece from the Los Angeles Times (Nov 28), titled The Zuckerberg Revolution. It was a interesting read that was consistent with some of the dialogue that has been happening around the water cooler and in the staff room. He suggested that I blog about the article to generate some conversation.
In the piece, the author, Neal Gabler laments that while social media has increased the volume of our communication, it has also diminished the substance of it. According to Gabler, Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg's latest technological revolution, described as "a social inbox" is yet another example of social media that "may challenge the idea of serious ideas."
"The seamless, informal, immediate, personal, simple, minimal and short communication is not one that is likely to convey, let alone work out, ideas, great or not. Facebook, Twitter, Habbo, MyLife and just about every other social networking site pare everything down to noun and verb and not much more. The sites, and the information on them, billboard our personal blathering, the effluvium of our lives, and they wind up not expanding the world but shrinking it to our own dimensions. You could call this a metaphor for modern life, increasingly narcissistic and trivial, except that the sites and the posts are modern life for hundreds of millions of people."
Clearly, this is a domain that needs our influence!
With some estimates suggesting that more than 95% of our students are using social media (mostly Facebook, and YouTube, although a few are turning on to Twitter), more educators are recognizing the need to meet students where they are. Many are seeing the challenge, the opportunity, and the duty to teach students not only how to be safe when using social media but how to use social media in a way that is socially responsible and both powerful and supportive of deeper learning. With the support and guidance of thoughtful teachers, students are flourishing in these new environments; more fully engaged in their learning through experiences that stretch beyond the traditional boundaries of the classroom.
My own personal learning has been enhanced greatly through Twitter, YouTube and Edublogs. For me, Twitter has become a rich learning community that points me to powerful readings, inspirational video, and invites me to participate in a sustained dialogue on relevant education topics. The community is full of outstanding educators and thought leaders, who model citizenship, collaboration, and creativity. Since using Twitter, I'm reading more than ever and I'm reflecting on my learning through writing for a real audience. (thanks mom:)
Left alone, social media can be a shallow, mind-numbing, distraction for our students. However, with the involvement of caring educators, social media can be harnessed as a wonderful, collaborative learning tool that leads learners to a place that is both intellectually rich and engaging.