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.
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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
- Connects school to home (primary education, in particular)
- Connects students globally
- Promotes collaboration with peers
- Shifts from didactic teaching to inquiry based learning; promoting self directed learning
- Promotes digital citizenship
- Enhances digital literacy
- Connects instructor to student where they ‘live’ (adult education, in particular)
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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?
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