Monthly Archives: October 2014

The Social Media Debate

We live in a society where people are bombarded with numerous technologies every day. From the moment people wake up, they are consumed by the need and desire to catch up on the news and latest gossip, play games, etc. For students, this aching need is not eliminated when they enter a classroom. Unfortunately, this is when students desire it most. Whether we like it or not, this is our reality. As we have all experienced in practicums, students have extreme difficulty with putting the phones down and paying attention. Although we sometimes pretend not to notice the student who is smiling down at his/her crotch, where a cell phone is residing, we knew they are texting, checking social media, or playing games. The new reality is that students’ brains can no longer learn without the stimulation of technology. This is clear by the blank, mindless stares that accompany lectures, no matter their length. This, as “Embracing Change” explains, is why teachers must be willing to change their currently comfortable way of teaching for a method that allows for engagement and enhanced learning. One way to do this is to incorporate technology into lessons, homework, and day-to-day activities.

All of our readings for this week encourage teachers to try various technologies in their classroom to enhance engagement. As the articles suggest, social media is a great way to do this. The majority of students are obsessed with social media, so they are primarily willing and excited to engage with each other through social media. We have all been required to use social media in the forms of blogs, Wiki, Twitter, etc. for our college classes. Although some of us have challenged this, we have all learned something valuable about this new way of teaching.

Brian Croxall gives a great list of various social medias that work well for classrooms. He discusses the incorporation of blogs for class assignments as a way of encouraging the interaction of students outside of the classroom. This works exceptionally well for classes that only meet once or twice a week. As Croxall explains, it allows students to discuss readings and/or homework for the class, share ideas, or rant about whatever is on their minds. I have personally found it helpful to be able to read what others have posted on their blogs. It allows me to see how others viewed readings, which has ultimately enhanced my learning.

I think blogs would be a great incorporation in a high school English classroom. Students are often required in English classes to read difficult texts and interpret meanings, themes, etc. It is also a certainty that many students will struggle with the texts. Having a class blog can alleviate this confusion and help lessen the struggle. On a class blog, similar to the one for this class, teachers can post additional supplemental materials that will assist students in understanding the texts and/or homework. It is also a way for teachers to communicate with students outside of the classroom. Students can also have their own individual blogs to write posts that encourage sharing ideas and boarded understanding.

Similar to blogs, students can interact on other social media sites, such as Twitter, Facebook, etc. “Twitter is a Shark Valve,” “Reflections on Teaching with Social Media,” and “A Framework for Teaching with Twitter” focus on using Twitter as an interactive method in teaching. All three articles discuss an increase in student interaction as a result of implementing Twitter in the curriculum. The Twitter Adoption Matrix, shown on “Twitter is a Snark Valve” and “A Framework for Teaching with Twitter,” shows that incorporating Twitter had increased student engagement and learning both in and out of the classroom.

While this is all fine and dandy, I have apprehensions about incorporating Twitter in a classroom. Croxall explains that he integrated Twitter in three of his classes, with only one class was required to post of Twitter daily. The class required to tweet had positive results that allowed students to work together, interact, and have a general interest in each other. In another class, only six or seven students used Twitter. In the third class, students completely stopped using it. I think this says a great deal about the adoption of a Twitter classroom. For one, many students only do it because they had to. When given the option, students did not use it. Perhaps the students did not like using Twitter for class, or maybe they completely forgot. Either way, it is clear that the majority of students only used Twitter when they had to. Although Croxall explains that it did help his classroom, I would like to see more proof that it does increase engagement.

One problem I have with adding Twitter in a classroom is the fact that some people are anti-social media. Although this is rare in high school, it does happen. Likewise, for a variety of reasons, many parents are against their children having social media. For this reason, I would not try it for a high school classroom just yet. I personally do not like Twitter, and, from talking with many people in our class, I know many others feel the same way. I did not have a Twitter before this class because I simply did not want one. I felt as if I was being forced to have something for a class that I did not believe in or want. Although I have gotten used to having a Twitter account, I only use it to make my weekly tweet. And, to be honest, I will probably delete it at the end of the semester.

I understand that many people love the idea of interacting with a class on Twitter, but I personally find it irksome. Perhaps this is because I have not yet seen the advantage of it. I am not against the idea, but I need more substantial proof that it works, especially for a high school classroom. I would be willing to try this in my classroom, but I think it would need several trial periods in order to work properly. I am willing to try this because I want to believe that many students would benefit from having a class Twitter. Similarly with blogs, teachers are able to communicate with students outside of the classroom. It also encourages students to learn about proper social media communication, which will ultimately protect students against a variety of problems that occur because of social media, such as cyber bullying, inappropriate posts, and sharing too much personal information. Overall, I personally do not like Twitter, but I do see its benefits in regard to education.