Monday, June 6, 2011

Social Media in schools

Do you believe that social media is here to stay? I do. I see many applications in business as a way for businesses to connect with customers. In business, it may even evolve into an essential community building tool. But I am not so sure that social media will play as an essential role in community building in education for day to day teaching.

Social media is the technology that makes online community building possible, not the community itself. It allows for the creation of and service to, online communities, where dialogue and interaction among community founders and members are possible. Some examples include but are not limited to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr, YouTube, Wikipedia, Picasa and MySpace.

It is true that electronic communication and social media create new options for extending and enhancing education. However, in surveying my students, they unanimously said that they would prefer going to a class to interact socially and academically with other students. Also, they said that they would want to have content explained to them thoroughly and receive immediate feedback to their work to ensure they are on the right path.

There is no question that a website may be a very important part of your online presence, but it is not a very effective community-building tool. However, a website can become a platform from which you launch and serve your student communities. Think of your website as your classroom where you teach students using social media as the place you guide and push the thinking of students.

There is one critically important thing for a teacher to understand about both of the online student community types: The teacher cannot entirely control community behavior. Members – students and prospects – control the conversation in the community. The teacher can only create and influence the community by establishing and demonstrating school community values.

As an addendum, professional bodies such as the Ontario College of Teachers recently posted a Professional Advisory: Use of Electronic Communication and Social Media. The advisory offers advice to teachers on how best to use electronic communication and social media with students.

Where do you stand? What’s your story?

image via My Crowd

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