Social Media and Classroom Dynamics

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

During the presentation this past June by Clay Shirky He discussed the transformed media landscape and how the delivery of the message has changed. He begins by illustrating how in the past it was one message pushed through multiple media i.e.) TV, radio, etc…He continues by sharing stories about how the transformation of social media has given power to the people and how we are no longer passive in our everyday interactions and are active participants. Clay provides a couple of examples of how people use social media to bring about social change. I found the example of the earthquake in China quite interesting. People within the experience were faster at getting the information out than the government agencies that are responsible to monitor geological events. It all happened so fast the government was unable to filter the outpouring of information and as a result twitter had to be shut down. We saw the same government reaction after the elections in Iran as outraged people took to twitter to let their voice be heard. News stations like CNN were somewhat lost without the direct feed resulting in a slow down in the news and the shut down of the social media sites actually became more of the news piece. People capturing events like these and the subsequent discussions about freedom of speech and expression helped to, if even a little add to the global social voice emerging along with this new media delivery style. Even the mainstream media has caught onto the change in perception as evident in the latest cell phone ad where a lost dog is found, seemingly within minutes, and returned before the owner can get home from hanging up their “old school” lost dog signs. Embedded within the cell phone screen shots are the social media sites that are taking away from traditional media delivery styles. I believe this commercial is aimed at subtly influencing the next generation 2.0ers identity and creating a perceived need for the technologies being sold.

How does this apply to education? I recall a teaching assignment where my assignment was set up on A/B days where I would see three classes on an A day and the other three classes on the B day. All classes were 7th grade science and I had to repeat the lesson six times over. At the time it seemed like a good deal as all I had to do was prep for one lesson and present it six times. The same message delivered to everyone. One aspect of this scenario that stood out was how the dynamics of each class changed the dialogue. I even tried to lead some classes in similar discussions based on questions the other classes responded to. This never worked. No matter how many times I tried it was never the same conversation even thought the information was presented exactly the same way. After several failed attempts I just let go and let the natural progression of the class dynamics guide the discussions. What a cathartic moment. I was able to let go of a preconceived notion that educational knowledge needed to be presented in a consistent and routine manner and allowed for the open dialogue and pursuit of knowledge as guided by the students level of interest. (TED Talk)


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