Sharing and Learning Using Social Media in Formal Education

This week in our Social Media and Open Education course we are invited to think about the positive and negative aspects of student learning, and sharing the products of this learning, using social media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook, or blogging. In reading about this topic, I have identified both opportunities and challenges in sharing and learning using social media. I have also set out goals for myself as an educator to address some of the challenges listed. Finally, I leave you further questions for consideration.

Social media

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The integration of social media in education can provide a child with a deeper connection, not only with classmates, but with other students across the globe in the pursuit of knowledge. As illustrated in the article Is Your Child Ready for 21st-Century Learning?, results in enhanced critical thinking skills and social connection can be profound. As a high school student of the 90s, inquiry based, self-directed learning had its limitations. We had ONE computer in the library that ran the Encyclopedia Britannica on CD-ROM. There was a line up to access the information! Furthermore, our education was very much teacher-centered and connection to other students nationally was facilitated through snail mail.  Today, as an adult educator in a post-secondary institution, where the method of teaching still resembles more of a didactic approach, I am both challenged and excited to learn ways to integrate inquiry based learning through social media. What a powerful tool!

Below I explore in more depth the opportunities and challenges faced by educators in using social media to enhance learning.

Opportunities for sharing and learning using social media

9 Elements of Digital Citizenship

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Challenges for sharing and learning using social media

  • Impact of the digital divide
  • Social media may become a distraction – i.e. excessive non – academic use during classtime
  • Time in monitoring online activity for evaluation (post-secondary, in particular)
  • Discerning source credibility: Fake News
  • Privacy issues (primary education, in particular)

Addressing challenges using social media in my teaching

As an adult educator, my initial goals in social media integration are two-fold. First, connecting the use of open learning through social media to the course objectives in a meaningful way is paramount. Shifting from a lecture based, teacher-centered learning environment to one that promotes inquiry based learning using social media will be a welcome challenge. I found Ashley Jamison’s re-tweet on the difference between using technology and technology integration a great starting point.

Second, as an educator I would need to understand the full scope of digital citizenship, recognizing that it goes beyond basic netiquette rules. What about access? How does the digital divide impact my students? Can I assume that each student has quality physical access to the internet or devices? More importantly, what impact does the student’s digital literacy skills have on their ability to learn in a social media environment? Being aware of these challenges my students may face is an important factor in how I introduce and evaluate learning using social media.

Questions for further consideration

As an adult educator I have encountered adult learners who are hesitant in, and sometimes opposed to, using social media in education. Beyond introducing the endless possibilities of learning with this medium, can I expect them to comply?

With respect to younger learners in the K-12 system, at what age can we realistically expect them to understand the responsibility of being a good digital citizen? How do educators address the concerns of parents who may be hesitant in having their children’s work or identity being shared publicly? Should parental consent be required?

What are your thoughts?

The link to comment is below the title of this post. Thanks!


Proposed Learning Project

Does it bring joy? Getting to a purposeful and mindful life….

As an adult, I sometimes take informal learning for granted. There are times when I learn without even realizing I am learning. Can anyone relate? As I am reflecting on my summer as a stay at home mom with my two very active and curious children – my daughter, who is three (turning thirteen) and my son who is twenty months – I am amazed at how much I learned about them as individuals and us as a family. For example, I learned that my daughter has an amazing capacity for empathy and even though my son isn’t speaking intelligible words yet he can communicate. I feel incredibly blessed that I could spend this time with them and get to know them better. Here’s the but… the rub… the 21st century/1st world problem….

I didn’t spend as much time with them as I could have. Why? Because I was consumed by organizing a lifetime worth of stuff! My house is full of STUFF. Please do not get me wrong, we are not certifiable hoarders. Although on busy days, or during our current home office renovation, you would think we might be. I believe we are an average North American family who have unwittingly, and at times knowingly, subscribed to the materialistic culture we live in. Bothered by the impact it has had on my life, I turned to Google and started my journey of learning about this culture and how it impacts families.  I was not surprised to find a University of California study documenting how American middle-class abundance has lead to a cluttered life. This study confirmed my belief that clutter leads to higher stress levels in women.

Furthermore, Regina Leeds claims that parents who exhibit disorganization in their homes can lead to disorganized children. It can also lead to indecisiveness for those who live in this environment. This makes sense, if my daughter has 13 pairs of jeans it may be hard for her to decide which pair to wear! How does this affect her decision making abilities in other areas of her life? Thankfully, “the essential organizational skills, to eliminate, categorize, and organize, are learned and can be applied to all areas of life.”

This brings me to my major learning project proposal. I want to start living a more purposeful and mindful life while minimizing the impact of a materialistic culture. More importantly, I want to learn how I could negotiate a life within this culture that doesn’t rob me of my time with my children, my husband and even with myself. I believe the start of this journey is to get my house in order! I am purposing the following learning outcomes:

  1. Identify and implement sustainable organizational systems and processes with the view to create an efficient and healthy household.
  2. Explore methods of engaging my young people in the process of becoming organized and mindful in a materialistic world.
  3. Identify methods of disposing of material goods with the least environmental impact.

Proposed learning resources

Too Messy?

As this is a journey of self-discovery and a new way of being, it just might get a little bit messy (literally and figuratively). I do have a concern of finding the right balance of sharing visual evidence of my learning without infringing on my family’s privacy.  Also, wondering about an appropriate hashtag. Something light and fun, perhaps.

Feedback on my proposal is appreciated!