One of the things that makes my upcoming book, Social LEADia unlike any educational book out there right now is the fact that I include student vignettes in every chapter. I also highlight several students who are using social media to leverage technology to make our world a better place and I direct you to their websites and Twitter accounts. This was extremely important to me.
Why? Because knowing these students has forced me to reconsider what I think I know about social media; we oversimplify its role which is far more complicated and nuanced than we can understand unless we observe students and listen to what they have to say. It has also reaffirmed my belief that social media can and should play an integral role in our classrooms.
Here are a few excerpts from the student vignettes:
My school would say they do give me digital access because we have access to Chromebooks, but this is not digital access. We don’t blog. My teacher doesn’t tweet what we’re learning throughout the day. We don’t get to participate in Mystery Skypes or the Global Read Aloud. We only use technology to prepare for testing. I wish my school would take the time to see the difference in how I learn at home and apply it in my classroom and school, so my classmates can have the same opportunities I do.
By contrast, here is what 3rd grade Ryley Hanson has to say about using social media in Kayla Delzer’s class:
I use Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat in my classroom using our iPads. I take photos of kids that are working productively and crushing it, and I type a tweet to tell about the pictures. I like to show our followers what we are doing and why it’s important. I also like to send tweets to authors, creators of apps, teachers, families, and experts when I have questions or need more information…I want to be proud of my social media accounts.
Kayla uses social media in her classroom every day and has a Tweeter of the Day, and Snapchatter of the Day, and an Instagrammer of the day after her students engage in a “Digital Citizenship Boot Camp.”
Seventh grade Jin Schofield, in Robert Cannone’s class tells us:
Social media can be used to spread a message, raise awareness, and bring the world together. In fact, just last year, the way I and everyone around me used technology drastically transformed. We shared our class’s accomplishments online through our class blog and Twitter account, we organized an event about one of Canada’s greatest milestones, and we even raised money for Syrian refugees and a child with cancer, all through technology and communication. The phenomenon of the Internet and social media had just become apparent to us, and I think the way we used it to make our own difference in the world is something worth sharing.
In Robert’s class, Jin was a part of the “social relations committee.”
In the book I am as much a curator as I am a writer; I bring together not only the voices of students, but highlight educators from all over the world and what they are doing to empower students to become digital leaders.
We make decisions on behalf of students all the time; isn’t it time we at least hear what they have to say before we make blanket policies and statements about using social media in our schools?
What have you discovered about the role of social media in the lives of your students which goes beyond the typical narrative we have come to know and expect (distraction, cyberbullying, etc…)? Would love to hear your experience in the comments.