Social Media and Education
Heidi Cohen, a marketing expert surveyed a group of public relations colleagues for a definition of Social media and came up with 31 definitions. To her surprise, one ‘expert” did not even know how to define it due to the evolving/dynamic nature of Social media. One of her more general definition that applies to the field of education comes from Wikipedia which defined Social media as the use of web-based and mobile technologies to turn communication into interactive dialogue.” (Cohen H 2011)
Popular examples of Social media in use by educators include but are not limited to : Face Book, Tweeter, YouTube, blogs, Wikis etc.
Gerald Aungst in his article” Why I don’t do technology” argues that it is no longer acceptable for teachers to use this excuse because educators are mandated to produce growth in learning , in his words he said “ as educators, we have accepted responsibility for the growth of the students in our care”.( Aungst, G 2011)
The above sentiment is echoed by George Couros in his blog on August 15, 2012 said the following”
“If we are focused on “what is best for kids”, it is imperative teachers continuously work to improve and have the “growth mindset“; social media provides a great avenue for this type of continuous learning. (Couros G 2012)”
Due to the power of the net, Social media has allowed educators all over the world to connect /collaborate and increase learning.(PLN) Most have found these connections helped them in their professional growth and eased their sense of loneliness. As evidenced by Ed Camps happening .
In fact George Couros cited the 5 points about Social media; its impact on Education:
Social media is free- this should be music to an administrator’ ears specially with existing budget cuts
Social Media cuts down on isolation- teachers use Social media to feel connected. George cites an example from his district regarding the veracity of this statement.
It builds tolerance and understanding of cultural diversity –connection is worldwide, hence exposure to a variety of culture leads to better understanding/tolerance
It can amplify passion-people of similar interest from different parts of the world can collaborate, learn, innovate and come up with something new, which in itself serve as a great incentive for more collaboration.
The world of education is (or needs to be) more open. – Because education is based on relationship and he believes proper use of social media can bring the world together.
However, according to George Couros; a culture of fear and censorship still permeate most educational institutions. In his words “there can no longer be an “opt out clause”; children need to be prepared to live in this world now and in the future. Though change may feel hard, it is part of learning. If adults expect it of kids, then they need to expect it of themselves first. ( Couros, G 2011)
In the video on YouTube “Learning to Change, Changing to Learn”, it stated that the US government ranked industries by IT use and of the 55 industries ranked; Education was the 55th after Coal mining in IT use. Teachers need to face the fact that technology is no longer an option. The environment has changed but this does not mean that traditional subject need no longer be taught but we should take advantage of these changes to reach our goal of helping children learn.
Generally, I agree with all the statements I have listed in my objective section. I agree with George that teachers should no longer excuse themselves by saying “they do not do technology.” Social media will help us become better teachers because it helps us connects with our students in a more relevant way. If we are serious about being teachers, we need to embrace it. Reading about Social media these past few weeks, the excitement of its proponents in education has certainly convinced me of its merits.
Watching the video “Learning to Change-Changing to Learn” made me have goose bumps. We are in a new era; the clip closes with one guy saying it is the dawn of learning.
Why did I get goose bumps watching the video? It was made 4 years ago; I wondered how much has changed. How much have I let fear of unknown stop me from moving forward?
I have hemmed and hawed about this matter for a long time. Like a turtle…I am finally in this course, I still have the 20th century mindset that I will need to register myself into a class and get formally trained.
Unlike students today, they generally just read up on the net what they want to know, then try things out and learn on their own. They check in with each other on Social media to exchange ideas and stories. Very much as described in the video, they know where to look for information, and they check in with each other and other sources in the net to verify their information. The fundamental shift already happened. The school is no longer in schools because ‘learning” for these students are occurring outside of the educational institution. They want real connections with authentic issues.
As a teacher/leader, because most of us were not trained this way, I will need to overcome my own fears/inhibition about this medium. It’s interesting that in life, the effective leader is the one that goes before others. How does one lead if not in front? Teachers are leaders, a teacher can only lead effectively if they have walked in the shoes of those that they lead. Now is the time to do this. This is the one thing that this generation of students has been exposed to since birth , this is also something they have more skills at than the ‘typical” teacher . The pressure is actually on the teacher to take up the challenge of joining their students in the realm of Social media. Mentally, I assent…but to find me regularly doing this and actually or finally adopting this in my practice will probably take a while. This is so because I do not feel as comfortable with this medium as I would have liked, though this is no excuse.
Wikipedia states the following about education. (Aug 12, 2012) “Education in its broadest, general sense is the means through which the aims and habits of a group of people lives on from one generation to the next” It is interesting to note that it also states that “ Generally, it occurs through any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts. In its narrow, technical sense, education is the formal process by which society deliberately transmits its accumulated knowledge, skills, customs and values from one generation to another, e.g. instruction in schools.
The landscape already changed. I need to change along with it or be left behind. I might not mind this if I was already close to retirement, however since I still have few years to go …I ought to take note and move forward with the times. Is this enough motivation? I tell myself that as a teacher, I will need to embrace this. I have told myself that I will. Is this going to be enough? Dean Shareski in his blog felt that blogging has made him a better teacher. (Shareski D 2010) Blogging allowed him to have regular reflection on his practice. I could not agree more and I hope to see myself blogging on a more regular basis. Perhaps over the long term, it will change me.
However, I still go back to the argument, where does one find the time to do this on top of all the “other” responsibilities one has. In the end, as with all changes in behavior, it starts with the heart agreement, and then one just needs to make a conscious effort and persevere through. Until it becomes part of one’s life. As one very popular commercial puts it…I should “Just do it”.
Aungst, G (2011, July 7) “Why I don’t do technology isn’t acceptable” Connected Principals retrieved on August 15th, 2012 from http://connectedprincipals.com/archives/3964
Cohen, H (2011, May 17) “31 Definitions of Social media” retrieved August 12,2012 from http://heidicohen.com/social-media-definition/
Couros, G (2011, March 24) “Why Social Media make better teachers” The Principal of Change retrieved on August 15, 2012 from http://georgecouros.ca/blog/archives/1860
Couros, G (2011, July 10) “This is not optional anymore” The Principal of Change retrieved August 15th, 2012 from http://georgecouros.ca/blog/archives/2107
Couros, G( 2012, August 15) “Time Investment” Leadership Day #12 retrieved on August 15th,2012 from http://georgecouros.ca/blog/
Floyda007 (2008, May 15) “Learning to change-Changing to learn” YouTube retrieved on August 15th,2012 fromhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tahTKdEUAPk
Richard Graham, M (2007, April 17) ‘Growth Mind Set” retrieved on August 15th,2012 fromhttp://michaelgr.com/2007/04/15/fixed-mindset-vs-growth-mindset-which-one-are-you/
Shareski, D (2010, November 16) “How to make better teachers” Huff Post Education retrieved August 12, 2012 fromhttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/dean-shareski/how-to-make-better-teache_b_783392.html