Imagine a classroom where students “like” a Facebook group dedicated to microbiology, live-tweet their laboratory discoveries, post a step-by-step instruction video of their research project on YouTube and publish their results on a school blog. When it comes to meshing social media and education, the possibilities are endless.
This month, the Brookings Institute lead a discussion on social media and education, showing off how the future classroom could operate.
Social media isn’t fast — it’s instantaneous. Just 10 years ago, students were forced to wait for teachers to deliver study materials and teach new concepts. Today that information can be communicated instantly. Some may argue that students consume information too quickly as a result of social media, but being that we’re moving into a more mobile and on-the-go world, that may not be such a bad thing. In fact, because of the speed and availability of social media, that information is even more readily available — and affordable — for teachers to dissect, analyze and pass on to students.
Barriers are Lower
“Up until now, ‘technology’ has been an authority delivering the lecture which (students) memorized,” said Howard Rheingold, a Stanford University communications director. “If there is discussion, it’s mostly about performing for the teacher. Is it possible to make that more of a peer-to-peer activity? Blogs and forums and wikis enable that so a lot of this is not new, but it’s easier to do and the barriers to participation are lower now.”
Many school districts are beginning to embrace the use of Facebook to share school news, and even interact with students. In a Bay City, Mich. Catholic school, one principal says he’s shedding the light on what he calls the “dark neighborhood” of the Internet — Facebook. John Hoving created a Facebook account and is friends with many of his students. If he comes across anything that could turn into cyberbullying, he’ll send a private message warning that student that their actions could be hurtful.
Some may see this as “big brother” activity, but education experts say it’s important to be proactive.
“We don’t want to recruit our teachers to be the Internet police, but if a teacher sees a student getting into trouble at the mall, they’re going to be proactive about it — why wouldn’t they be proactive when it’s on the Internet?” Justin Patchin, co-director of an online Cyberbullying Research Center, said in an interview with Mlive.com.
There are also educators using a bevy of social media tools to get students interacting and learning in and out of the classroom. Andy Losik is a Michigan elementary school teacher who runs the blog Infotech with Mr. Losik. He encourages his students to visit his blog and comment their answers and questions. On a snow day this past February, Losik posted a video asking his students to play “myth busters.” The challenge: Will a rolling snowball get bigger and bigger as it rolls? The blog post received 78 comments from his students on a day when school wasn’t even in session.
It’s obvious that there is a wealth of information for students to consume through social media, but it’s going to come down to the teacher implementing those tools in an effective way. A teacher is evaluated not only by student performance, but by that “personal touch.” So it’s important to have that curated one-on-one time to make the most out of social media.
Social Media integration in schools is receiving a great deal of buzz these days. So much so that certain schools go beyond integration and actually offer classes that seek to teach best practices in terms of social media marketing. To learn more about a social media masters degree visit SNHU.EDU