Social Media in Education

I’m still thinking about the presentation by Neil Selwyn last Wednesday. He gave a very interesting view on social media and how to use them in education. The biggest issue for me was that social media are good, but we cannot simply dismiss traditional education in favor of all sorts of new ways of teaching. Since I began CCK11 I too was swayed by this new and revolutionary way of teaching in a connectivist way, but it’s good that once and a while we are reminded that thinking in absolutes isn’t the way to go. The world is not black or white. Education is not done in one particular way. It’s a mix of all different kinds of colors, it’s a conglomerate of influences. Connectivism has a unique way of looking at these possibilities and integrating them, but we still need to integrate! Fortunately, modern day technologies are finding their way into the homes and lives of thousands, millions of people so that this integration feels natural. Everyday teaching, however, encounters a lot of obstacles… In my own institution, I’m constantly coming across limitations of what I can do, be they technical in nature, financial or philosophical. In “the real world” it’s not always possible to implement all our new insights. Frustrating!

Neil Selwyn reminded us of the values of the traditional ways of teaching, not pleading against new ways or technologies, just stating that what we do now and did in the past, isn’t “bad”. However, teaching is (should) evolve into something new. Neil gave us 4 points to consider:

  • Acknowledging the ideological nature of social media in education
  • The over-valorisation of the informal and the institutionalised
  • Social media are not necessarily fair media
  • Social media and the commodification of learning

One by one very interesting points to discuss, somehow it gave me a broader look on education. Social media have their drawbacks too and knowing them in advance will make the difference in implementing them in a classroom.

So how do you integrate these social media in the classroom? What do you do with them? It’s easy to say “Oh, I let my students Tweet during a discussion in class” or “I share my Diigo bookmarks with my students”, but this is merely the beginning. Where lies the surplus in value? When do young kids learn better/more, if thought with social media? Remember media are a tool, not a goal in itself! I wrote about using blogs to report about the things you read, learned, watched, etc. as a way of sharing knowledge, but also as a means of showing what insights you gained. What other media can be used to actively work with learning content? Twitter, Facebook, Diigo, Evernote, Prezi, RSS-feeds, etc. these are all very helpful tools, but by no means can they replace the content of a classroom. They can, however, be used in a way to channel these learning contents. I think that it is here that lie the challenges. Finding new ways to share content with your students, letting them use new ways of presenting their findings and above all, connecting them with each other, so they may see the enrichment of a network. It is in interacting with each other that the surplus is found. The new way of getting the knowledge makes the difference. That is what connectivism is all about, I think. Being connected to engage with content, instead of consuming knowledge and archiving it into our heads.

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2 thoughts on “Social Media in Education

  1. Waaw, goede analyse! Ik ga twitteren met de studenten informatica over bouwen van websites. We zullen zien.

  2. Ha Lars, gebruik sociale media om je leerlingen in contact te brengen met de wereld buiten de klas. Je kent vast wel uitwisselingsprogramma’s met andere scholen. Maar er is veel meer mogelijk. Nieuwe betrekkingen (connections) aangaan kan nu op zoveel manieren. groeten Jaap
    Ha Lars, use social media to get your students in touch with the world outside the classroom. You probably know exchange programs with other schools. But there is much more possible. New relations (connections) can now engage in so many ways. Regards Jaap

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