Embracing the Digital Brain: Social Media in classrooms

With many schools still enforcing mobile bans in the classroom, does social media belong there as well, given its popularity? The New York Times recently did an article looking at the incorporation, of social media tools in the classroom. The argument here was that students could utilise technology, who might not otherwise be active participators in the classroom. Innovative use of microblogging channels such as Twitter can help prompt discussions and coax ideas out of shy or bullied students. The article was slightly controversial in that it sparked criticisms, that by offering students these tools you are actually catering to lazy Internet addicted teenagers, who now with this stamp of approval would never be able to kick the habit.

The reality is we already live in a highly connected world, and this new age of connectivity is only set to increase and become more tightly integrated in the future. The current mobile revolution that we are seeing, definitely influences the way society operates. The fact is, by having instant access to these devices means our brains can effectively outsource menial facts and focus on creation and application rather than retention. Less reliance on retention understandably would would upset many educators. Educators have to learn to embrace the digital brain. They already know the world is changing, and it is unlikely that they can successfully avoid it. Carl Hooker is a Director of Instructional Technology for Eanes ISD, an EdTech Teacher, and founder of iPadpalooza.

He says: “Technology would seem to be the panacea for solving all of these issues when it comes to engaging the digital brain. However, while it does have an impact in the classroom, the greatest impact still lies within the teacher and the content that they are trying to get their students to learn”. So perhaps if teachers can be innovative in their usage of social media in the classroom, it is not all necessarily doom and gloom. Here are some interesting statistics: 96%: of students with internet access report using social networking technologies – 75%: of 7th through 12th graders have at least one social media profile – 63%: increase in the amount of time kids ages 2-11 spent online between 2004-2009. 59%: of students who use social networking talk about education topics online. 50%: of those who talk about education topics online, talk specifically about schoolwork.

Maybe the goal here is for educators to find a zone where they are comfortable, where they can encourage students to critique and comment on each other’s assignments, in a positive manner, work in teams to create content, and can easily access each other and the teacher.

Source: The Use of Social Media in School