It linked to this article: “Why Twitter and Facebook Are Not Good Instructional Tools.”
I’ve never used Twitter or Facebook in a classroom setting, and I’ve never been in a class that’s successfully used either. I have heard of both being used successfully, though in those cases, the students took on different personalities in their assigned Twitter/Facebook accounts, and had to interact with other personalities as assigned in the class.
How, then, can an instructor use social media successfully in class? The answer lies in framing, always. The purpose for using a particular social medium in a classroom must be explicitly stated. Otherwise, it comes across as using the tool for its own sake, which isn’t productive, and students can see right through it. Exposure to a concept or a tool is not a valuable end in itself, and all instructors need to carefully examine their class objectives to explore the relevance of using social media, or any technologies, in the classroom.
Maybe social media aren’t the right vehicles for education. Twitter and Facebook are self-serving, wherein users constantly battle for the most relevant, i.e. retweeted and liked sentences, instead of contributing to a body of knowledge or promotion of good in the world. Perhaps social media need to be taught first, and then used as tools in the classroom. Right now, I see things like Twitter and Tumblr as ways to get my name and my own ideas into the wider academic world. They are not a place where people say, “Share these ideas.” Instead, everyone shouts, “Look at me. I’m doing interesting work.” Teaching people by instructing them to use a tool blindly adds to the cacophony of academic Twitter.
Does all this mean that I’m vehemently anti-social media in all forms? Absolutely not. I’m quite active on Twitter at conferences and when I find interesting things relevant to my academic interests. I share, occasionally, images from my research on Tumblr. And I have personal Facebook and Twitter accounts, for sarcastic comments to and with my friends and family. Nevertheless, I do not believe that social media are appropriate teaching tools, carte blanche. Especially in a world where tech savvy-ness is a new form of literacy, working together is more important than working individually in the same space.
I like Barnwell’s idea of tech savvy-ness beginning with people. When we learn to collaborate and communicate in-person, we are better collaborators and communicators in a digital environment. Similarly, if we learn to teach well in a classroom where all learners–students and instructors–are present, only then can we begin to incorporate new technologies. They don’t save the classroom on their own.