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Social Media In Classrooms: A Case For Why It Belongs

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This piece comes to us courtesy of Education Nation's The Learning Curve blog. Social Media Explorer CEO Jason Falls writes. He is also a member of the board of directors of the National Center for Family Literacy.

Teachers that resist using social media in the classroom are stripping their students of an essential component of their future success. Avoiding -- or worse, banning -- social media platforms for students prohibits them from being successful professionals in fields like accounting, chemistry, the arts and more

Why so declarative? Because social media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and blogs) have become the fabric of how the world communicates. Yes, traditional methods of connecting and collaborating still exist -- you can still pick up the phone or write a letter -- but you can also route messages or share ideas with clients, colleagues, vendors and others using collaboration platforms, social networks, wikis and more.

In today's business environment, someone lacking not just an understanding but a working knowledge of social media and social networking tools is at a competitive disadvantage. Not preparing our young people - whether in elementary, secondary or post-secondary education environments - to not only have but also excel with these skills means we are failing in our mission as educators.

[Read about a school in Silicon Valley that has chosen not to use technology in its classrooms here.]

In May 2011, the state of Missouri banned teachers from communicating with their students on the popular social networking site Facebook. While Governor Jay Nixon altered the bill to the point of essentially repealing the ban, all of the state's school systems have been asked to create their own social networking policies by March 2012.

While this may seem like a victory for the teachers and students -- not to mention social media -- it's only a baby step in the right direction since many school districts will likely decide that social networking is not an appropriate way for teachers and students to communicate.

For any school district that does outlaw teacher-student communication through social media channels, this could mean teachers will not be able to:

  • Communicate with students on the popular communications platforms they're using outside the classroom - sort of like banning teachers from saying "hello" to a student at the movie theatre.
  • Share lesson plans, extra learning resources and ideas on social platforms where their students are spending much of their free time.
  • Create a classroom wiki or shared document (like a Google Document) where students can work together to take notes on a lecture or add robust resources like YouTube videos or other online links to class notes to enhance the learning of everyone in the classroom.
  • Effectively teach technology and social networking skills their students will desperately need when entering the workforce.

And each of those just scratch the surface.

This piece has been truncated. Read the full piece at Education Nation's The Learning Curve.