Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Our Place in the Revolution

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.


  1. Sorry I don't really know the edict of blogging. Should I tell everyone who I am or not? It doesn't really matter I guess. Depending on how I feel on any given day I may fall on the pro-side or con-side of social media. As a middle aged person who likes to try and feel young and wants to stay current with what is happening, I want to like social media. As a middle aged person who is busy and often pressed for time I don't really want to like social media. I can't seem to really fit it into my day. I sometimes feel aggravated by the ding of my email telling me a message has been sent. I have a facebook page but I am constantly rejecting new friends. I don't really understand why our students want to put all their pictures up on the web for everyone to see. Some of my students only have an email to talk to adults everything else is done through Blackberry BBM or facebook. Terry is right I need to make a place for this communication style in my life so I can do my teaching job better. But where and how? Will it really make my classes more engaged or will it just distract the students? I need to talk about this with other teachers. I need to collaborate and figure out what to do next. What are other people's thoughts? GH

  2. Hi Graham,
    Thanks for your comments. Check out Chris Kennedy's presentation at TEDxUBC. Student's Live provided students with opportunity to grow an audience, build community, and exert influence. What an amazing learning experience for the students and the teachers:

  3. Etiquette of blogging, not edict of blogging.

    Although edict does fit into a blog comment....

    Edict - a formal proclamation, especially one issued by a government, ruler, or other authority

  4. Watched the video of Chris Kennedy. I like his ideas and want to put them into action. I will be thinking of ways to do that in the days to come.