Monday, June 28, 2010

Changing the Climate: How Teaching Social Networks Might Save the World

Social connectedness through twitter and facebook is changing the landscape of how we get information about political and environmental news and happenings.  There is debate about whether we should be using these tools as well as wikipedia in schools.  Will would argue that we should.  Because we have the ability to connect around our passions it can make what is going on in the classroom seem irrelevant to students.  We need to solve this problem. 

Will showed the Clustermap for his blog and said this is what he wants for his children, global interactions.  Not necessarily the quantity, but the quality of the interactions.  We have to show kids somewhere in our curriculum the power of global interactions.  MacArthur report shows how students are using these social network tools.  The vast majority uses these tools to stay in touch socially.  A smaller number use these tools to connect with others who share their interests.  Some of these people they connect with are adults and we have been afraid of that as educators.  We need to get over that.  We need to do this safely with them, because there is so much they can learn from it.  Are we modeling this skill for our students/ children?

One of our goals in life should be to build something bigger than ourselves.  Do we teach kids that?  We need to begin to figure it out.  Social tools can support this in so many ways.  It's not that you have to use social tools, it's that you CAN and it's a quick way to get something started and have momentum.  Here's how a high school teacher leveraged the tool of YouTube to share his thoughts about global disaster. 

This video went viral and there has been so much conversation around his topic, he is now writing a book.  All from leveraging social networking tools.

How are we preparing kids, at our schools, to be problem solvers for the world?  You have to let them solve problems in the classroom and be comfortable with inquiry.  Too much at school is about "the same thing on the same day in the same way."

We can't just cross our fingers and hope students will use social tools in a safe, productive way.  They have to be taught.  Showing them examples of this that other students have done, is a good start:  25 days to make a difference, working together to make a difference, Ryan's Well.  Teaching kids to use social networking skills is not a "unit" or a part of the curriculum, it should be a part of all we do.

The National Council of Teachers of English say that these are the ways to be literate in the 21st century.  Are you literate? Are the students you are sending out in the world literate?  Let this be your call to action!

Watch Will's session here on ISTE vision.

No comments: