Strategic Social Media Use in High School

thecleversheep: @mguhlin Maybe an alternate question for consideration: Should Students Be Required to Use Social Media in High School?  
mguhlin: Should Students Be Able to Use Social Media in High School?
Should we require students to use social media in schools? The question comes to mind while skimming Dr. Leigh Zeitz' response to a high school student about social media. As I reflect on social media in schools, it seems a bit of a fluff topic, no? After all, why should schools be about teaching what every student is learning already to do? It's easy to be dismissive of social media as yet another fad that schools are being asked to teach that distracts learners, rather than attracts to the core content.
The point hits home again as I read CatsPyjamas' review of learning management systems and how they are unfamiliar to students:
One of the stumbling blocks to the uptake of social learning is so well camouflaged, so institutionalized, such a part of the furniture, that I’ve been using it on a daily basis and never noticed just how much it got in the way of social learning. In fact, it is an insidious infiltrator, it presents itself as an aide to our social learning cause....
She goes on to point out that tools like Facebook are the better social learning environment, far better than learning management systems (or, as I like to consider them, course management systems). The point made is that to the degree that LMSs prevent us from connecting with one another, to that degree they are unsuccessful in facilitating connected learning. I found this reflection on the differences between traditional learning (presumably with LMSs) and something new (which is as old as humans seeking ideas and knowledge at the social corner) to be enlightening:
What we are trying to do with a MOOC is to create an environment where people who are more advanced reasoners, thinkers, motivators, arguers, and educators can practice their skills in a public way by interacting with each other. In such an environment, people can learn by watching and joining in. This is not an 'assumption' that this happens; it is an observation.
If we can get past the idea that the purpose of a MOOC is to 'teach people stuff' then we can begin to talk about what benefits they bring. But so long as we just think of them as another way of doing the same old thing, we'll be misunderstanding them. 
(Read more about MOOC via Stephen Downes)
Social media taps into people who want to interact with one another, in ways that connect learning with who they are and what they are about. While a MOOC may be beyond our learners today--and why is that?--as we have approached learning with LMSs, it may not be in the realm of social media. And that self-directed learning is why it's so valuable outside of school.

“When I left fashion, social media wasn’t even something we were doing in the industry. Fast-forward four years, and if you are a brand and you are not on social media, you are missing a huge audience.”
“They are essential skills that are needed to operate in the world and in the workplace,” she said. “And people will either need to learn through formal training or through their networks or they will feel increasingly left out.” 
 “We have to think about social media in a new strategic way,” he said. “It is no longer something that we can ignore. It is not a place to just wish your friends happy birthday. It is a place of business. It is a place where your career will be enhanced or degraded, depending on your use of these tools and services.” are you using social media in your job as an educator? I suggest that if you're not now, you will be. And, if you're not, be warned your students will learn it without you...and is there anything wrong with that?

The conversation continues with a slightly different focus here.

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Rodd Lucier said…
In my experience, the teachers who are learning the most, are those who are highly connected networked learners. While many young people are leveraging social tools for social reasons, there are far fewer who are adept at using social tools for learning reasons. Unless we can demonstrate the value of tools like Twitter, Facebook, Google + and the next big thing, learners will be left to assume that learning is experienced by following a line of thinking prepared by the solitary teacher at the front of the classroom.
Arjun said…
Great Post there, mate. I would agree with Rodd when he says that there are far fewer who are adept at using social tools for learning lessons.
Say for instance the known giants in the social media space keep introducing features every now and then. Unless a teacher or parent understands how to use it to leverage learning, how else could they possibly implement the same in the classrooms. Like this post lists out some key utility of such platforms.

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