The fourth component of emerging issues in schools is social media. It’s easy for technology directors to block all social media. Yet, it is more difficult to apply social media in the classroom. That means that students can blog, work on wikis, and use social media web sites for educational purposes. There’s every reason to use social media for learning, school communication, and community service.
Blogs can be used for writing assignments and journals. Clearly students must learn what’s appropriate for the public Internet, but it’s still easier to block it than to teach it.
Microblogging can be used for quick communication among class members. Teachers can use such application sites to solicit feedback and questions during class, yet we’ve banned personal technologies in schools. It all goes together.
Students can use wikis for community course study guides and book studies, but it’s still easier to block it than to teach it.
Photo sharing sites allow students to collect or share their own photos for a myriad of ideas, such as biology, astronomy, history, architecture, and art, to name just a few. Yet, it’s still easier to block it than to teach it.
Educational technologists need to help schools find the safe path through rather than restricting it. It is our role to help teachers and students, rather than creating barriers to learning.
Like any other technology application, the use of social media in schools begins with a solid curriculum plan that has clear objectives and modes of evaluation. This with a test implementation, followed by formative evaluation that leads to full implementation is a good first step. Distributed implementation across the school’s curriculum makes social media an important cog in learning and leading.