Tuesday, July 30, 2013

10 reasons we need social media in education

I recently had the opportunity to be a part of a four person panel discussing social media in education with central office administrators. Our audience was made up of superintendents and assistant superintendents from all over the state of Missouri. Most importantly, I was joined by three awesome educators: Kyle Pace (@kylepace), Chris McGee (@cmcgee200), & Scott Dill (houstonsuper). All four of us come from different backgrounds and have a wide variety of educational experiences, and I would highly recommend following all of these gentlemen on Twitter if you are not already.

Jason A. Howie
I'm writing this post to help educators start the social media conversation in their district. Regardless of your position, if you are looking for some talking points for future conversations with your building and/or central office administration on the benefits of social media, look no further:

1) - Social media enables an instructional shift to take place. Social media helps move students from simply consuming information to creating and then sharing their work with the world. Districts looking to embed and embrace 21st century skills into their curricula will find the transition much easier with the aid of social media.

2) - Social media is a tool, and tools don't make bad decisions. It sounds crazy, but just like when we started to allow students to use pencils in school, there were concerns that the students would misuse them. Technology devices are no different, and it's crucial we don't paint all technology tools with the same brush assuming that they are all evil. Remember, tools don't made bad decisions; the people using those tools inappropriately do.

3) - In terms of educator growth and development, social media connects educators with the experts in the educational field. If you have recently read a book or an educational article, you can almost guarantee that the author is using social media as tool to strengthen their brand. Social media makes it so easy to contact and work alongside these experts.

4) - Social media will help you meet your students, their parents, and your community where they already are. Make it easier for communication and transparency by using the platforms that your students and community are already using and are comfortable with. Right now we call it social media as if it's some completely isolated thing, but in a few years it's just going to be called 'teaching and learning' in school.

5) - Social media is a powerful search engine that allows both students and educators to find timely and relevant information. Sure, social media can be a waste of time if it's used just to search for videos of cats, but the reality is, social media is changing the world second by second. Major events around the world aren't reported first by the news, they are first reported by people who are actually there via social media. If that's not real education, then I don't know what is.

Scott McLeod
6) - If your school and district wish to remain relevant, they need to be a part of the social media movement+Christopher McGee envisions a world where schools are the learning hubs and centers of connection in our communities. Too often our schools try and separate themselves from the community when they need to be more closely aligned and working together to provide the most purposeful and relevant environment as possible.

7) - Social media will help you pass a bond issue+Scott Dill was able to pass a bond issue in his district after not having one pass in over 12 years. He credits this remarkable accomplishment to using social media and connecting with the community on how these funds will be used, and why it's so important this initiative passes.

8) - If you believe in telling your own story and not having someone else do it for you, you need to be using social media. +Kyle Pace said it best, "if you don't tell your story, then someone else will, and you probably won't like the story they are telling." Social media provides several platforms that help you be proactive about the image of your classroom, building or district. Don't react to what you read, be proactive and share the message you want your community to read.

10) - If you say you are preparing students to be successful in the future regardless of the path they choose, you have to include digital citizenship and digital branding into your curricula. The banning and blocking of social media because students will misuse it in the educational setting is pretty hypocritical. Most school districts have a website, a Facebook page, and perhaps even a Twitter account. If the district sees value in utilizing these social media platforms, then why would that same district block them and not take advantage of that wonderful opportunity and potential with the students...?

What reasons would you add for including social media in education?