Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Social Media and Why it's Important in Education

This afternoon I had the honor of joining Tonya Hall as a guest on her radio show to discuss using social media in the classroom. In preparing for the interview, I found myself thinking about some of the essential advantages to social media and these ended up driving much of our conversation. I will back-link to the recorded show when it's posted, but for now, here are my 3 passion points for social media.

Social Media means Transparency
Transparency is a common buzzword in business, politics, and education and therefore is often dismissed as an overgeneralized ideal. But the use of social media, personal branding, blogs, etc. make it a powerful tool – especially for educators. Currently, there is a distinctly negative public perception of the education system in America. Transparency through social media can help dispel the myths that the education system is archaic and ineffective.

Social Media is the Power or We, not the Power or Me
At the #140edu conference in NYC, Edutecher founder Adam Bellow made an observation regarding the roles of teachers and students. He explained that teachers are no longer a well from which to draw knowledge and students are not vessels that need filling. Social media and the connectedness of the web have shifted the needs of education away from content attainment toward higher-level skills such as analysis and synthesis of information. Students need to learn how to harness and use the collective knowledge of all.

Social Media never Forgets
Google has become your resume and it never forgets. My 7-month-old daughter has an online footprint. How will she feel about the picture I post of her someday when a potential employer discovers my blog or Flickr account? Social media sites are a specific telling of your accomplishments, values, strengths, and ethics. Every professional – teachers included – must realize that personal branding on the web can mean the difference between hired or fired.

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