Toward social media tools in school

By Anne Collier

You all may have noticed I’m a strong proponent of educational social media in school – in the core curriculum, pre-K-12. Why? So students can not only collaborate in basic civic engagement (the class being a tiny community in which they’re engaging) and maybe broader participation beyond the classroom, but also practice media, tech, and social literacy (citizenship) while they’re in core classes. This is guided social media use, just like writing on paper, blackboards, or smartboards is guided traditional media use. Social media needs to become just another learning tool. So here’s why I’m writing all this: There a new social-networking platform for school called Diipo. It’s a free service that includes profiles, blog, collaborative workspaces (as in a Google doc), direct messages (as in, private messages between student and teacher), student work archiving (“knowledge base”), microblogging (more like announcements), and media-sharing. “By integrating social media into educational environments, teens have the opportunity to learn how to be safe and smart when participating in online social networks. They also learn valuable life skills, as these social technologies are tools for communication that are widely used in colleges and in the workplace,” writes YALSA in “Teens & Social Media in School & Public Libraries: A Toolkit for Librarians & Library Workers” (the Young Adult Library Services Association at the American Library Association). [See also a short piece about Diipo at The Journal, “Can this be played in school? Please?” and “Learning by doing: Safe social media for grade school.”]

Toward getting there (using social tools in school)

Three things that might be helpful for parents and teachers to remember about social media: it’s far from rocket science; you learn it (and various tools of it) by playing with it; and – if you need any help at all – it’s great (for you and the kid) to get a kid to help you. This is one reason why videogames are a great model for learning: low cost of failure. The play involves both fun and failing – as in, failing, problem-solving, triumphing, and starting that over and oover and over in a short space of time. This is also called learning (more on this from Prof. James Paul Gee at Arizona State U. here). But fear not, it doesn’t have to be done publicly. You can learn with your immediate family or others who will support you as you learn, and your best guide is a kid because this empowers the kid and you at the same time, so you’re helping someone else while you’re helping you. Is that not the coolest thing? I love that. So go play! And then get social media into your house and classroom. It’s not all good (like anything in life), but it’s mostly good and it’s important for your children, because it’s here to stay and you want them to learn well – the best (and safest) way in today’s world: collaboratively and respectfully.

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