Twitter and Being Tech-Savvy

Last week, I posted a deliberately provocative tweet:
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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.

About j.d.grunert

Historian, Science and Technology Studier, Librarian, Academish
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3 Responses to Twitter and Being Tech-Savvy

  1. Miko says:

    I believe teachers should do an honest assessment of the relevance of social media in the classroom. Realistically, even though social media can be very beneficial, I do not think they always enhance the learning experience. In some instances, social media can be distracting or not contributing at all to the classroom. Careful evaluation before implementation is a must when trying to implement social media or any other technology in the classroom.

    Thanks for posting.

    Miko

    • jgrun1 says:

      I would add a few key words. I think social media only add workload to the learning experience and not meaning. And I think it always adds distraction to the classroom, especially when projected on the screens.

  2. Marian Georgette says:

    I am beginning to understand why we are required to blog for this class. What I read in your blog posts is so much more than what you contribute in the classroom. I hate this constant requirement of blogging, but I actually enjoy your blog.

    BTW…”Marylander, tiptoeing around Southern Culture” you’re gonna have to go much further south than Virginia to really experience it.

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