To keep American innovation strong, we must instill in students a passion for new ideas
The Case for Social Media in the Classroom
Educators must teach their students to be effective citizens of the digital world. And that knowledge doesn't come in textbooks alone
I still remember from 20 years ago a statement from the Student Faculty Industry Conference at Callaway Gardens, Georgia. It made an impact on me: "Great teachers will one day be broadcast around the world. The best days of teaching are ahead."
I couldn't believe my ears, and I certainly didn't believe that one day a teacher like me could sit in my classroom and change the world. Many are nervous about the changes happening in education, but I'm excited. Any time that the paradigm of an industry changes, great opportunities arise for no-names to become big names.
Now, 20 years later, I see just how right this speaker was. Using social and digital media, teachers are reaching past the classroom in unprecedented ways. There's Steve Spangler, a science teacher-turned-showman who shows the world how science can be fun. Mr. Thorne does Phonics shares how to break down and make words. In my own Flat Classroom Projects, Julie Lindsay in Beijing China and I help connect thousands of students around the world as they collaborate and learn together.
Here are the most important things we, as teachers, should integrate into our practice so we can help this generation learn:
1: Teach with a Variety of Media
Students need to know how to write an essay, a blog post, a Tweet, a video, a podcast, or any type of media.To have a best chance at reaching the world, all students should be exposed to all forms of media and be able to express themselves in multimedia. A student who cannot produce a video is mute in that area of expression. In addition to traditional grammar, an effective 21st century classroom also discusses the visual grammar of composing effective digital stories.
2: Encourage Digital Citizenship
As part of our Digiteen project, we share how to be effective digital citizens by letting students interact in online spaces. Students cannot learn this from a textbook. A minute of experiential knowledge in this area can be worth hundreds of days of lecture. (For example, when young men interact with young women from certain countries, the topics must remain on school and cannot be about social topics lest it offend her family. Students must experience these cultural differences to learn them.) By facilitating educational interactions in social media type educational networks, we encourage a sense of global citizenship in the new generation.
3: Introduce a Global Audience
Publishing online creates a global audience for students by making them part of an online world. Students should know how to connect with this audience in a fluent and effective way. In our Flat Classroom projects, students publish videos and college teachers "judge" the videos (while learning about digital media.) We can create powerful symbiotic learning experiences between learners of all ages.
4: Empower Global Collaboration
After students have technical knowledge, digital citizenship knowledge, and understand how to publish for an online audience, they should have the "people knowledge" that comes from connecting with other students around the world.They achieve this by connecting and learning from each other on a daily basis. Stop talking about China in the classroom. Start talking WITH students in China. There is a profound difference.
This is an exciting time to be teaching. You can go to school in your tiny town and reach a massive, growing, connecting world with your students and your own words.
How do you use social media in your classroom? Share your tips below.