Social Media in the classroom

I remember reading a newspaper article a couple years ago talking about a teacher using cell phones as a means to teach his students. His whole premise of disregarding school policy was based on “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” My 12 year old brother just received an iPod touch for Christmas. Within 2 hours of opening his present, he downloaded 12 apps, and posted a picture of a Mountain Dew can on Facebook. Along with exploring the inner workings of the iPod, he asked question after question about how it worked, passwords, usernames, downloading info, etc. Upon discovering some rather noisy apps, he asked “How do I silence this thing to make sure it doesn’t go off at school.” My parents automatic reply was, “You weren’t planning on taking that to school, were you.” Both he and I looked at each other, rolled our eyes and exclaimed “Duh!”

Not to sound to cliche, but in a stage of life where the world is at our fingertips (ok, that was cheesy), maybe we need to take the teacher’s advice, “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” I found some articles talking about the benefits of students using social media as a way to become proactive in their learning.

From NBC News Education Nation 2011: Social Media Belongs in the Classroom by Jason Falls argues that social media is such a huge part of business now that proper education needs to become part of mainstreamed curriculum.

My argument FOR this movement is based on my current experience working as a proposal analyst at an IT firm in Maryland. I have noticed that several government agencies require systems that allow their internal networks to have live conversations, video stream, chat, and want  systems that allow safe and protected ways to communicate. Many business and government entities use some sort of social medium to connect with others in their field, and most are working with clients through these mediums. And where businesses were restricted to certain regions, these social mediums also provide worldwide access to necessary communications both internally and externally.

In the Reuters article, Can Crowdsourcing Shake Up Education by Deborah Cohen covered a story about a new platform that allows k-12 teachers to share their best lesson plans with other educators across the country.

While looking for a job in education policy, I had the opportunity to speak with persons from the Department of Education Technology Development department, Partnership for 21st Century Skills, PBS, and other innovator’s in technology. As you recall from the About Me section, one reason I went back to school was to learn more about the idea of using technology in the classroom. As our society has the propensity for more convenience and efficiency through technological advances (what, with the latest releases of the iPad 2, iPhone 4S, 2011 MacBook AirBarnes and Noble Nook…need I go on?), our education system is lagging behind and technology is kicking its butt.

Read More about Technology in the Classroom

Department of Education: Effects of Technology on Classrooms and Students

Education World: Skype in the Classroom

Sure there is and will be more speculation on how this movement could harm student security. As with anything new, challenging, and innovative, professionals offering technology for the classroom recommend that students are not only trained on the technology itself, but the PROPER ways to use these technologies, especially when it comes to safety and protecting student identity.

There is a way that teacher’s can use social media as a way of enhancing the learning experience. I just can’t wait to hear the political conversations revolved around what I see becoming a major issue for student learning in the next year.