One must get past the stigma and truly experience what this free resource can do for our schools and students to appreciate its inherent value. Social media is all about conversations that center around user-created content. When structured in a pedagogically sound fashion, learning activities that incorporate social media allow students to apply what they have learned through creation. This fosters higher-order thinking skills and caters to a wide range of learning styles. Social media tools allow educators to authentically engage students as they encourage involvement, discussion, communication, collaboration, and creativity. These include mainstream examples such as Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook, as well as, specialized ones such as Voicethread, Glogster, Animoto, and Prezi.
Blogs are an incredible social media tool that can be utilized in a variety of ways. Teachers can set up a class blog to foster creative writing and reflection, or as an alternative to a school newspaper. Blogs are not isolated to just writing, students can add rich media to posts such as pictures, videos, widgets, and gadgets. The Holocaust Study Tour blog created by a New Milford High School teacher and her students who travel abroad to Europe on an annual Holocaust Study Tour provides is a great example. School administrators can use blogs as a powerful public relations tool in lieu of traditional newsletters and email blasts. The ability to comment on any blog increases both student and community engagement.
In our digital journalism class students are required to have their own Twitter accounts. They are then empowered by the teacher to promote their articles and tweet out real-time school news as it happens. This class provides our students with experience using real-world tools that journalists rely on more than ever. It also teaches them about how social media can be used responsibly, to support learning, and as a professional tool.
For our students that have grown up in the digital age learning needs to be relevant, meaningful, and fun. Allowing them to use social media tools to achieve learning goals and objectives, of which they already are familiar with outside of school, makes sense in the globally connected, digital world we are all a part of. This, in my opinion, constitutes sensible learning. A shift towards incorporating social media into education provides a golden opportunity to teach digital responsibility and citizenship to our learners, an area where many schools are failing. When doing so, we must ensure that policies are in line with this change, teachers are supported through professional development on how to effectively use social media in the classroom, and parents are educated on its value.
All of this makes sense to me as an educator, parent, and citizen. What about you?