Friday, July 1, 2016
Social Media and Makers Movement in Classrooms
We are in the second haft of the second decade of the 21st century and Social Media are still a frightening reality in many classrooms, we can't deny this, however often the reason for this fear can is that educators of all levels, from teachers to superintendents, do not really know what to do with them and how to handle these tools in a safe environment for their students.
I have taught in schools in which many classroom doors post clearly "Cell free zone", "No Electronics Allowed", and so forth. In my classroom I have always had a big sign "Bring Your Own (Electronic) Device", and next to it a guidance of rules for the use of them. In my opinion it is important to encourage students in embracing technology in a mature and responsible way. A smartphone is such a powerful tool and has great potentials when used in the correct way in a classroom... this is why it is important to teach our students this very valuable skill.
Smartphones are the most common and efficient tools for using Social Media, and let's be honest at least 95% of our students have them in their hand for most of their waking time of the day. In spite of this, our students rarely realize that they could use these tools for "learning"!!! Did you have had students asking you some bizarre question? Absolutely, right! Now how many times you have replied "Google it and share with everyone what you find."? It is amazing how kids often do not think right away of the potentials of this small device they "pet" all day long.
I really like the idea of Social Constructivism proposed by Dr. Richard J. Light of Harvard School of Education, stating that learning happens more effectively when there learners interact with other learners. a couple of years ago I read a few scholar articles presenting studies made in both secondary and post-secondary level education institutions analyzing differences in learning outcome of students who did and didn't use of social media in their classroom environment. The results were consistently in favor of the use of Social Media.
Let's now consider the great motivation boost that Social Media can offer to students when they can share with others their ideas and the what they create... what a powerful experience! Think of the opportunities they could access to if they were given the opportunity and the guidance for using for instance Twitter for connecting directly to they favorite authors, scientist, doctors, artists, engineers, asking questions and sharing their ideas and products... the potentials are really unlimited!
Educators have always to deal with budgets way too small for their dreams, however sometimes Social Media can be a way to reach out far and high at a low or no cost and at the same time it can offer the opportunity for marketing good ideas and products, creating a potential revenue that could support further "exploration". This is a process that dos not happen overnight, but I believe that it is very important to initiate and promote for the good of our students, if we really what them to be successful 21st century global citizens!