Saturday, July 27, 2013

Just Say "No" to Social Networking Sites in Schools

At this point in my life, I don’t have a lot of free time, so for some of my professional learning, I rely on my google communities, Twitter, and Diigo, to keep abreast of everything that is going on in my profession. I like that because I can get my learning at my convenience. I leave Facebook and Pinterest to my wife's care, which she uses to keep family and friends up to date on some of the more ridiculous things that occasionally happen in our personal lives and to find the next best recipe.

Recently, Michael Norkun, an educator in the "Ask a Google Education Guru" google plus community asked for help and posted this in a google form survey:

"I am trying to collect some data regarding social media in schools. Would anyone be willing to complete this short survey?"

It only had two questions. Short and sweet, the perfect survey.

Answer yes or no: Do you think social networking can be integrated into schools to enhance learning opportunities?  (my answer: yes)

Which social networking site provides the greatest opportunities with education? (my answer: twitter)

Then he asks: Describe the potential benefits of using these tools in school. (my answer: something about the power of using hashtags to find specific feedback and help, for example math students in a calculus math class)

He then provided this link so viewers could see the responses as they came in.  There were a lot of "yes" responses and brief descriptions of how and why they chose their favorite "social media" site.  

As I looked over the responses, my attention was drawn to the "no" responses and the reasons given why social media should not be used in school.

"Its purpose is social, not educational. The social aspect would serve to distract students. Less technology, more hands on"

I was dumbstruck. How could another educator who was obviously a connected educator in an educational google community claim social media sites such as google plus, edmodo, twitter, pinterest (add your favorite here) not see the value of a learning community for students?

I tried to rationalize how that could be. Maybe they were a lower elementary teacher and couldn't make the leap that little ones can blog and network, too? Maybe they were an upper high school teacher and had some bad experiences? Maybe they worked in a school that controls and squashes teacher creativity?

I could presume that Jack Dorsey (twitter) and Mark Zuckerburg (facebook) probably counted on the inate "social" nature of humans interacting to make their millions (or is it billions?).   But over time, educators have bent and shaped these platforms with a social twist into learning and educational platforms with endless possibilities for students.

Or maybe it is just a matter of semantics.

For those who are of the opinion that social media has no place in school, I think they may misinterpret and perceive it as purely "socializing media."

I suggest they change their mindset from the social(izing) media vocabulary to educational & personal learning media and then go back and answer the question again.

Do you think educational and personal learning networking can be integrated into schools to enhance learning opportunities?