Mulling over the Social Media maelstorm

Activity 6, Week 30, NZ Mind Lab, PRACTICE

I turned to social media with real purpose during maternity leave for my second child. It started partly from boredom and partly because we lost our freeview box when moving house. I turned to twitter for my news and found friends I wasn’t expecting. As I was chugging away being a Mumma I started to think about all the possibilities twitter, and other platforms, could afford my students. Now, I wouldn’t be without it as an educator. Teaching and learning has become eternally entwined with social media and the opportunities in offers.

I’m fascinated by some of this video I found on Youtube:


There are lots of similar videos on the internet, all basically telling us that the masses of people using social media is increasing exponentially in shorter and shorter time periods. I believe it is the way forward in education as well as, in many ways, “real life” as well. The advantages of connecting through social media, in my opinion, outweigh the negatives.

In my classroom I have used twitter, skype, google hangouts, edmodo, and blogs (various types). I started using these firstly because I thought it would be fun (and it was!). I thought great, this is talking the kids’ own language and opening up their experiences, and their experience, to the world. It worked really well. There were minor hitches, but there are minor hitches with everything.

For professional development my go to is twitter. The saviour of many teacher’s sanity!

superhero-twitter-350

I tweet regularly and have learnt so much from being online and communicating with my PLN. It is invaluable to my professional practice. I have also studied online and belong to several google+ and facebook groups focused on different topics. I would certainly place myself well into the connected educator spectrum. Another great Sylvia Duckworth graphic shows connected educator traits:

connected-educator

The advantages of using social media with your students are connection (locally, nationally & internationally), collaboration, boosted engagement levels, and improved digital literacy. In some ways it is learning without learning. It is authentic and, to some extent, just happens naturally.

The potential challenges are equity of access – that same old beast of burden. Not all students have access to devices in classes, let alone in their homes. Through ignorance or whatever, many schools and teachers shy away from social media use. The unknown entity scares some off. Teachers either don’t understand the benefits or simply don’t engage.

In my opinion, misuse of social media is last on my list of potential challenges. If digital citizenship is embedded in all that we do, as well as modelling generally being a good person, this problem should hopefully disappear. And when/if it doesn’t, it needs to be addressed, not swept under the carpet. I will always advocate for appropriate, authentic, and frequent use of social media tools for learning in my classes and schools.

As for my own professional development, I have already mentioned that I would not be without twitter. I love that PD comes to you via this media, and that the seeking of it is fairly simple. The ability to collaborate with other like-minded educators enables me to create new knowledge, find out what others are thinking, and share my own ideas (Melhuish, 2013). I found it interesting that Melhuish (2013) expresses the need for “quality control” with PD via social media. I notice this myself as you gain people you trust and admire online, and people you learn to treat the ideas of more circumspectly.

I would like to take more time to watch and/or participate in relevant webinars and potentially connect with other educators to discuss what they do in their classrooms with their struggling students of literacy. I also hope that I will find the time to blog further on this site, possibly promoting my blog more to gain greater critique and feedback of ideas and/or issues.

While writing this post, two interesting articles came to my attention – via social media (!). The first is about an American teacher who has been sacked due to her racist comments on facebook. The link is here. While I would never think, nor write, such comments, I always like to think before I post about the potential impact of what I am saying and whether I am prepared to stand by it.

The second is perhaps the more relevant and pertinent. It fits in with what I suggest about using social media with students, talking their language with it and engaging in it in authentic real world situations. The link for that article, about positive online footprints, is here.

Social media is here to stay, so we should learn to use it as a force for good. 

References:

Melhuish, K.(2013). Online social networking and its impact on New Zealand educators’ professional learning. Master Thesis. The University of Waikato. Retrieved from http://researchcommons.waikato.ac.nz/bitstream/han.

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Mulling over the Social Media maelstorm

4 thoughts on “Mulling over the Social Media maelstorm

  1. I really enjoyed your blog. After watching the video I’m thinking phone companies should put a toothbrush in with each phone! The link to the positive news article in the Globe and Mail was also nice to read. Finally media writing about the great job a school is doing in making students better digital citizens – it’s got to be better than the attention getting negative slant most have been reporting. Keep writing on the blog, I will keep reading!

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  2. Lee says:

    Hi Belinda. I have noticed that you are an avid user of twitter and your post here explains why you enjoy using it so much and what you get from it. In your discussion about the challenges of social media you have mentioned equity and quality control as issues. In my limited experience with social media tools I have found that the sheer amount of content to be overwhelming and my biggest ongoing challenge. How do you manage this? Especially on twitter as the more people you follow, the more information you are bombarded with.

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    1. Good question Lee. I am unafraid of the unfollow button – if someone is not giving me what I want, or too many ads or anything, I will unfollow. However, I don’t just unfollow people if I don’t agree with them, it is often good to keep tabs on what they are saying. Also, using tweetdeck helps. That’s a programme that sorts twitter into columns. You can follow hashtags easily or people. So, I’m basically only keeping up really well with 3 or 4 of the threads on twitter. The rest is chance. Also, I only scroll for so long at a time. I’m not going to go forever. If I see it, I was meant to see it!

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