Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Don't blame social media if students are distracted...

Note: This post started as a comment on “Filtering social media in schools because it’s a ‘distraction’” which appeared on Scott McLeod’s Dangerously Irrelevant blog and then first appeared as a guest post on Lisa Nielsen's blog, The Innovative Educator.

Social media is no different than pencil and paper. I doodled a lot in the margins of my physics book. It wasn’t Twitter and Facebook that made me doodle but I doodled nonetheless.
Social media can serve as the new platform for distraction but not a new cause for it. Doodles, passing notes, sleeping in class, all of the “analog” forms of distraction, have just morphed into branded platforms.
The difference? 
Sleeping in class never led to anything. On the other hand, connecting & engaging on social media might. The doodler who grew up to be a graphic designer may have been distracted in class but is now earning a living born out of that distraction. Maybe the students tweeting in class will develop the next great media platform.
Social media has no intent. It can be used for evil, but it has far more potential for good. Second graders in my school composed 100 tweets for the 100th day of school in @MsGlembocki’s class. Things they loved, learned, and experienced in 100 days. They did the full writing process, including paper drafts, and then used class iPads to publish their tweets. It was amazing to see 30 second graders engaged the entire day in a writing process that covered both traditional methods & social media. They got instant feedback on their writing from around the world. Not a distraction in the least.
@MsKertesz, 4th grade ICT, used Twitter to connect with a class in Liverpool, England. They had weekly Skype sessions, did cross-pond spelling bees, and collaborated on Prezis.
These are just two examples of how social media is used in my building in very positive ways. Our students are excited about the prospect of their own accounts when they get to the appropriate age. I am confident that when they do have their own accounts they will use them as productively and positively as our teachers have.
Nothing beats a good model.
It shouldn’t be blocked. It should be used. Distraction exists no matter what. Don’t censor a whole medium in fear of distraction.

To read more ways we use social media at my school visit:

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