I have always been the kind of person to constantly be connected, and I will be the first to admit that I spend far too much time on social media. I love the idea of sharing my life with those close to me, as well as being able to keep up with their lives, no matter the distance. Social media helps foster community and connects us to the world in ways that wouldn’t be feasible any other way.
Using social media as a tool for professional development as an educator came naturally to me. The familiarity and comfort with YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook made using them as professional development tools a breeze. The convenience of being able to easily attend online webinars, listen to podcasts while driving, watch YouTube videos while waiting for dinner to cook, and subscribe to blogs to receive email updates, is such an incredibly powerful learning tool that provides a wealth of information at our fingertips.
I can also see the benefits of our students using social media. We live in a world where everyone is connected, so why shouldn’t we take advantage of that? I think that there could be incredible power in students creating and being a part of learning groups in things that interest them. They can then connect with people all around the world to expand their knowledge, which would open up their experiences to a whole new range of viewpoints, especially those outside of our local perspective. I also think social media would be beneficial in the classroom because it is relevant. Social media is always what’s happening in the present, the most recent information constantly being available.
Of course, we have to be cautious of the downfalls of social media as well. I think that it is important too, like everything, find the right balance in what we do. If we were to bring the use of social media into our classroom, we would need to ensure that it was beneficial to our learning goals and that students were using it productively and safely. This would also include students being aware of what kinds of information they put out into social media and being educated on what the platforms do with their information. If we wanted to share out with the public, which I think would help give the students work more meaning, we would have to sign media release forms. I think that we would have to be educated on the programs we use and think critically on how and why we are using them.
Overall, I believe that social media is an incredibly powerful tool, and our students have a wealth of knowledge available at their fingertips. It is our jobs as educators to explicitly teach our students how to go about using the different tools, and how to engage in the information they come across critically. It is our job to ensure their privacy and safety are always being looked after, and that they have the tools needed to be successful.