Over the last year, I have followed a number of online discussion regarding social media in the K12 education systems. This summer, I have specifically followed conversions regarding the use of Twitter in the classroom. As a general observation, it seems the people are more likely to be decisive with their yes/no stance with regards to Twitter. At least from the reading I have done, there seems to be more acceptance of Twitter use at the college and university levels.
In the relatively short time that social networking has burst onto the scene, the debate over pros and cons continues to be batted about. On the classroom side, typically the conversations cover: engage the students, embrace new technologies, teachers modeling 21st century or life long learning, disruptive technologies, fragmentation vs time on task, responsibility to teach student online saftey and and curriculum benefits (or not). On the teacher/instructor side, social networking can provide many useful connections and sharing as people build their Personal Learning Networks (PLNs) and build their resource libraries. As one reflects on this list of topics, it would be easy to argue that there is no one right answer, especially on the classroom side. Thus, the debate will go on.
According to Howard Rheingold, who teachers at UC Berkeley’s School of Communication and Stanford University, bringing social media into classrooms is “challenging the 1000-yr-old paradigm that you have to learn from a master and the only way to do that is to go to lecture and take notes.”
Rheingold points to five reasons for teaching students social media:
- Developing students’ literacy in our new online environment is as crucial as developing their abilities to read and write. Communication is moving toward social media. We can either help students thrive in this environment or leave them flailing.
- Many students bring their computers to class. Why not work with this trend instead of fighting or ignoring it?
- Social media is just that: social. Students who use Twitter for class are “learning collaborative skills that are particularly important today.”
- There is only so much class time. Rheingold makes mini-lectures on video that students comment on between classes, allowing more time to engage the issues through in-class discussion.
- Shy students who hold back in class often speak up online. “If you can extend the discussion to an online message board, you enable students who may not jump into the discussion,” he said, to “make a thoughtful contribution.”
- “Twitter allows me to share and glean resources I can use in the classroom
- I meet and connect with other educators from around the world whom I would otherwise never be able to meet
- It gives me 24/7 access to the most creative, influential, and innovative minds the world has to offer, allowing me a virtual whiteboard and brainstorm group”
David R. Wetzel views Twitter as a web 2.0 tool used to improve teacher professional knowledge, collaboration, self reflection, and ability to remain current with the latest news and trends in education.
Collaborating with Other Teachers
My view: Personally, I land on the side of embracing social technologies in the K12 system. Different technologies will fit the learning environment in different ways. Just like using other software packages, you need the right tool to support learning in the most effective way. In my mind, there are clear benefits to using social networking tools for student learning, curriculum delivery and professional development. Twitter, for example, has been a core component of the development of my PLN and daily learning.
Where do you stand? Share a comment or send a tweet.
Angela Maiers: My Twitter Engagement Formula
Jessica Grosse: Article in the Huffington Post blog.
David R. Wetzel: Article posted on Suite101.com .