Blog Post

On Using and Not Using Social Media in Schools: An Email to My Professor

(Note: this an actual email I sent to a professor after a day in which some of my colleagues expressed doubt about using social media in schools. While I agree that there are numerous reasons to be cautious, I also wonder what is the real reason for objections to use).


So from one social media in education researcher to another, I thought today's class was really interesting! I think it's actually a great reminder of how (some) school systems are resistant to disruptive innovation, technological and/or pedagogical, and I think a lot of the concerns that I was hearing in class today reflected that-- concerns about legal issues, privacy, ease of use, technological competence, etc. But at the same time, I was a bit put off by a rather narrow view (what I might call NIMBY-ism); that of the "let's think carefully about how we want to use FB/SNS in the classroom." And, of course, on the surface, I agree to that-- as educators, we ensure that everything that we do has a particular purpose, and the technological tool that we use is a good fit for that purpose. However, and a big however, is that we should be *open* to the possibility of using SNS in the classroom, b/c as the research suggests, a lot of good things can come out, including educational outcomes that we didn't even think of at the outset. 
A lot of the resistance to using SNS comes, I might argue, from a fear of using something scary/innovative/not rigorous/not "tested"/not approved, when the reality is (and I didn't make this point), like Davies suggests, social media can support *new social realities* that are impossible without social media. Davies didn't have a theory for how youth use social media to collectively create a new social learning space at the outset-- rather, based on the innovative habits of the users, new practices are created. It seems like the idea that we *must* (or even *should*) have a clear idea of what we want at the outset from our social media use is a bit stifling when part of the thrill of SM is how users adapt it for their own purposes. When I was a teacher, even in a "rough" urban school, I trusted my students to be responsible users of the web-- In fact, I learned from their practices (first, I'd never seen white youth sharing ear buds for an iPad; second, they gave me proxies to get onto FB when I couldn't). We need to be open to social learning practices that solve local problems (like your question yesterday)....
Anyway, that's all. (Maybe I will make this into a blog post after all).

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