Connected Pro-D


Social Media and Youth – The School’s Place

Posted in ECI 831 by tchcruiser on September 27, 2009
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http://www.edweek.org/dd/articles/2008/06/09/01networks.h02.html

I watched the video for this week and read this related article about social media, youth and schools and have a few things to say in response. Jesse B in our ECI 831 class also had some questions he is concerned about posted on his blog that were connected with the topic – mostly around what and how much schools can police and control in relation to social media (he is concerned about this as a school administrator).

I found a few things in the video interesting:

Kids and adults don’t use the same social media tools, and if they do, they don’t necessarily use it in the same way. Kids don’t want to be sharing the same space as adults, or run the chance of being “seen” in the same place, and they don’t use it in the same way. For instance, they are not necessarily sharing all of their most personal and intimate details on the very public walls- they know to keep those conversations within the more private discussion spaces.  Kids also are more likely to share everything from one space or tool – they are not into delicious tagging of links or sites and they don’t use twitter. I find this very interesting, as these are the tools we were asked to use for this class. The students we work with are more likely to use a tool like Facebook for almost all of their sharing – pictures, files, links, and micro-blogging information. Frankly, I would also prefer to use ONE place for everything also 🙂  What is also not possible to control is what tool they are using – as soon as adults figure it out and start using it or blocking it, they quickly move on to another tool. However, our video guest did highlight the fact we all need to use what ever tools for our selves first and figure it out and get comfortable with it, before we can even hope to use it in our school and work environments. I totally agree and for this reason, I find policies that prevent or severely limit using workplace technologies and tools for personal use go against this basic premise. If you are not allowing me the freedom to use it on my own time, then when am I supposed to figure out how to use it???

What our role as educators is becomes a bit more clear for me (and is discussed in the final minutes of the video presentation). We need to teach them (and ourselves and others who we use these social media tools with) how to recognize and deal with power issues in relationships, as they become even more nuanced and tricky to deal with when you can’t always see facial expressions, hear tones of voice, etc. Relying on text communication is limiting in that way, but it is not impossible to learn the social graces of social media.  Knowing how to get along with others and at the same time, how to exert your own independence and uniqueness, has always been an underpinning of education and will remain so. Indeed, it will be come even MORE important to explicitly teach relationship building and effective communication skills in this “new age ” as our modes of communication change. The fact that we still reach out and need to communicate has not changed – how we do it and who we do it with has.

I also really like what the video has to say about being intentional about opening dialogue and relationships between adults/teachers and students so that students can show us how they use social media and how they create things (as this is often the place where adults find difficulty) and we can in turn, as a response to the sharing and reciprocal part of the dialogue, probe and get them thinking critically about how they are using the tools (which is something we tend to be better at).  Producing content just because you can, without having purpose or without thinking about the implications of the finished product for yourself and others, is something we all need to take into consideration.

I also think it is important to teach students and colleagues about the power the tools have to do things that may not ever be intended and that those things can’t be controlled no matter how many policies are put into place. Information that is published and shared in social media forums can stay for a much longer period of time than one could possibly imagine, it can be duplicated and copied and put into different contexts that you had never intended, it can be shared with potentially millions very quickly (even though you only “whispered” it to a few close friends) and it can be searched and linked back to you easily. These realities are very humbling, scary and powerful and need to be discussed and thought about often and intentionally in classrooms, staff rooms, boardrooms and at home with the support and backing of parents at the dining room table.

What can be very easily and quickly created can be very difficult to take back or fix once it is placed in the public domain 😦

2 Responses to 'Social Media and Youth – The School’s Place'

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  1. starkg said,

    “We need to teach them (and ourselves and others who we use these social media tools with) how to recognize and deal with power issues in relationships, as they become even more nuanced and tricky to deal with when you can’t always see facial expressions, hear tones of voice, etc. Relying on text communication is limiting in that way, but it is not impossible to learn the social graces of social media.”

    Great point! I know MANY emails have been misunderstood because of the way the reader percieved them – and how many take the time to clarify what was meant? A great lesson for any email/text/twitter/blogger/etc to know!

  2. starkg said,

    By the way – I agree with the rest of the post as well :). We all need to be aware of the dangers of being careless with what we post.


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