Monday, June 15, 2009

This is the Moment: Legitimize Social Media in Education

It can not be denied. Social Media is now a part of everyday reality.

The situation in Iran demonstrates this beyond any of the articles TIME or NEWSWEEK will ever write.

Twitter's simple statement explaining that they would halt a scheduled maintenance this evening so as to not disrupt a means of communications for news within and without Iran demonstrates this beyond the pundifications of any of the loose cannons on cable news.

It's happened.

This weekend will go down in history in two ways. First, it will mark -- for better or worse depending on the outcome -- a fundamental shift in the way the people of Iran are able to express dissent with their government. Second, at least here in the United States, this weekend will mark the moment at which the mainstream media -- particularly cable news -- was overwhelmed by social media.

It can not be denied. We are all now living in a world of social media. You can't claim ignorance. You can't call it a 'trend'. Whether or not Twitter exists in five years is besides the point. What happened this weekend is that social media became -- in the most legitimate way -- the voice of the people.


Now, what do we do as educators?

Well, I'd say that this moment both offers us an open door and compels us to act. The door that has been opened now allows us to cross the threshold of the legitimacy debate. No one who has followed the #IranElection feed can argue that social media is not a vital and legitimate media source; nor can they argue that social media is nothing more than the playground of the Internet. If anything, what that feed demonstrates is that social media is the closest thing to an active collaboration of global human thought and knowledge that exists or has ever existed in the the collected history of global humankind.

It compels us to act immediately as educators because our students can not afford to have their access to this Zeitgeist blocked by foolish laws and fearful bureaucrats.

The blocking debate ended this weekend.

Goodbye to the last vestiges of 20th century top-down media. Goodbye to the fear of what humans might produce given the opportunity to work collectively in thought and goodwill. Good morning, humankind.

So teachers, don't try to teach kids to live in a world that doesn't exist anymore. Rather, reach out and take hold of the possibilities social media offers. Anyone countering you doesn't deserve the authority their office holds.

This is the moment. Legitimize social media in education.


  1. It's so weird. I was just having this conversation yesterday with a college professor. It is my opinion that we are going to need to embed social media into our instruction or create an entirely new class that will teach students how to use, manage, and manipulate social media.

    But this is coming from a high school teacher whose district technology coordinator has our internet restricted -- anything with the word "blog" in it gets blocked. So, trying to use something like twitter is going to be a huge jump.

    I guess what scares me the most is that most teachers haven't even considered any of these social media as worth looking into -- (Twitter? That's something for little kids and social freaks!). And I don't want our entire faculty to be on Twitter, but shouldn't they as professional communicators know how the major modes of communication work and affect the way we think and act in response to world events?

    Geez, somebody give me a soapbox. Anway, I hope to be a regular commenter on this blog and follow your ideas. I know this must take an enormous amount of time, so just know that I appreciate your hard work.


  2. Hi Jarrod,

    Thanks for the comments. Check out this previous post and let me know if it gives you some ideas on how to get yr faculty onboard with Twitter:


  3. Here's an email I wrote to everyone in my school and it got picked up by a couple of other schools. The conversation was jump started. Some people felt angry, others vindicated, but there was a conversation:

    According to Nielsen Ratings, the reigning king of internet functions, email, was overtaken last month by something - that by internet terms - could be considered an adolescent. Last month, more communication was conducted through social networks (FaceBook, MySpace, Twitter, etc) than by email for the first time in history.

    What does that mean for you? What does that mean for us? As an organization, as educators? Will email fade away as more and more people trim their words to 140 characters or less on Twitter, then use more rich and visual literacy skills to communicate larger messages through pictures and video on YouTube and Myspace?

    Here's a bigger, more "headache-y" - if you will - question:
    If our way of communicating is changing, does this impact the "language" we speak? Which in turn changes the language we listen too? And if those changes occur, does that impact the way we should deliver our message, our objectives? Who is listening, and how are they listening?

    Something to chew on over summer break. Maybe you could check out some Social Networking tools by building a page for your family members (with PB Wiki or


    Remember when you had to start communicating with email instead of inter-office and phone calls? Did you ever think you'd be emailing as much as you do now? Did you ever expect to master adding an attachment? Maybe in five years MNTC won't even use email, maybe we'll have MySpace.MNTC. We've already got Twitter. Imagine that moment when you realize that in order to finally get everyone in the same room and lock down that meeting time, you'll either have to run across the pond in under 60 seconds, or learn to "Tweet".


    Maybe you'd like to win some free stuff, and the way to get ahead of the competition is to jump in early. A summer work-out plan. All next year we'll be playing a little game of Technology Fear Factor. No, that doesn't mean robots eating worms and ant-covered honey combs - that means Teacher vs. Teacher all out... using new technology. Just throwing it out there...


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