One big reality today: teachers, school leaders, students, and parents are using various social media platform. Well, a few maybe are not yet using any social media platform, but in the near future, everyone will be creating accounts to post photos, write their thoughts, or just randomly search for information about their favourite topic. While some educators are still not comfortable with the use of social media in the field of education, a great number of teachers, school leaders, and students have embraced and used social media to promote learning and to connect with other educators around the world.
Creating a Connected Learning Community
Using social media can create a connected learning community, especially when the values of trust, commitment to improvement of learning and teaching, and building and sharing of knowledge propel the use.
1. A professional relationship among parents, teachers, school leaders, and students that is founded mainly on the values of trust and respect can take advantage of social media. Using social media to communicate and showcase the school’s progress is a way to build trust and transparency to parents. Providing parents an opportunity to be updated with the school activities or events using social media can further cement an efficient and quick channel of communication. For example, school posts’ containing updates about school activities or accomplishments can be shared by parents who feel proud of the work of their children and of the school.
2. Educators have long tapped the power of social media to connect and learn with fellow educators around the world. Most notable of these platforms is Twitter. Numerous educational chats in Twitter have pushed the meaning and relevance of formal professional development conferences or workshops simply because educators have taken professional sharing and conversation into a free and engaging platform. Access to professional sharing has been, in fact, levelled off by an online access to Twitter. Teachers from various places around the world can now learn from other teachers, who without social media, can’t be reached by ordinary means. Not enough time or fund to join education conferences abroad? Follow the conference’s official hashtags and get free access to ideas flowing from the event itself.
3. Showcasing students’ learning artefacts has found a wider audience. Teachers and students are not anymore passive consumers of tech tools. In fact, those who share their learnings in social media are moving beyond becoming active creators of knowledge. They are actually taking part in a culture that actively chooses what should be seen online. They have chosen to show contents that promote learning and provide information that could improve a student’s learning, a teacher’s instruction, a school administrator’s leadership approach, or a parents’ support system at home.
Caveat: The Other Side of the Coin
The school community should also be aware of the challenges or issues that social media may cause in the learning community. These should not be overlooked or ignored. The use of social media has brought problems or issues among its users, whether young or old. Among these are the “addiction” of users and the fear of being left behind from what is trending online. Yes, we want to be connected with others, but a few have taken this to an imaginable height which caused “addiction” or irrational fear or dependence on social media. Sometimes, “unplugging” one’s self from the internet can give greater advantages also.
A few educators voiced out to let social media be used for “socialization.” Some students or teachers may just want to use their social media accounts for non-education related things in their life. Invading the social media realm in the name of education may remove the needed “break” of teachers and students from their usual routine in class.
Unnecessary or sensitive information about a member of the learning community might be divulge through social media. Sometimes, exchange of ideas or opinions might lead to heated arguments. In short, more than connecting members of the community, social media can cause division or gap among its users.
Yes or No?
As learning communities constantly decide on how they can leverage the use of social media, a basic aspect of education technology integration should always be taken into consideration: a proper, meaningful, and relevant digital citizenship program among members of the community. All members of the school community should still go back to why they are using social media and to commit themselves solely to these reasons.