Blog Post

The Case for a Nuanced, Contextual Perspective

So, in my last post, I examined why practitioners might not be using social media, when the research on the educational outcomes of SNS sites (Greenhow, 2009; Junco, 2011; DeAndrea, 2011) suggests positive outcomes including psychological well-being, self-esteem, and increased social capital. To me, it seemed like using social media, and SNS in particular, would facilitate a supportive, collaborative environment. So I posted a blog that said, more or less, that even in spite of concerns about privacy, bullying, and safety issues, using social media should be a no-brainer. I got a little hot under the collar and said that people who "resisted" were "narrow-minded." 

While I still feel that the numerous benefits of using social media outweigh the potential concerns, I have come to realize that there are valid concerns that have to be addressed before social media, or SNS in particular, is introduced into a formal classroom setting; as Molly Frendo pointed out, it may not be developmentally appropriate to use these tools in class, especially when younger students may not have the cognitive capacity to understand the long-term consequences of social media abuse. 

I think that the larger point is that careful consideration of the local context is in order before any disruptive innovation is introduced in an educational setting. While I feel that there are benefits-- including the creation of new social literacy practices (Davies, 2012)-- it makes sense to articulate potential challenges to use and adoption of the desired tool.

Ultimately, in any given learning environment, it makes sense to have a dialogue about the possibilities, and constraints, of the educational innovation. To that end, parents, teachers, and community members should give voice about the safety and privacy concerns. On the flip side, educational researchers, students, businesses, and other stakeholders should be invited to participate as well. In this way, educational affordances are balanced with voices of people who are usually left out of local discussions.

Anyway, I would like to continue this dialogue in a more constructive, nuanced way, by including many voices from different locations, in different contexts. What should we be excited about using social media in schools? What are areas of concern (besides the ones listed above)? Whose voice is normally excluded from the dialogue? 


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