People are doing a lot of hand-wringing these days about what is wrong with our youth. Despite opportunities to connect online, they fear that our children are becoming socially isolated. They bemoan the popularity of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, and wonder if they will lead to the end of civilization as we know it. There are those who are so concerned about the seemingly overwhelming intrusion of digital media into our daily lives that some schools are still restricted from using social media tools in the classroom.
But what if these fears are totally unfounded? What if half a million students and teachers from around the world chose to use social media to "Make Your Mark Matter" in a positive and uplifting way? That's exactly what will happen this Saturday, Sept. 15, during International Dot Day.
Based on the premise of Peter H. Reynolds' book The Dot, Dot Day was initially designed to help students build confidence and self-esteem. Through the simple exercise of making a dot, they are encouraged to "Make your mark, and see where it takes you." This year's Featured Partner is Angela Maiers, who brings over twenty years of educational experience and her "You Matter" Manifesto to the program. Angela recently started a cause called Choose2Matter. Adding this to Dot Day will raise the question, "What happens when people know they matter, when they have the power to make a mark on the world and choose to use it?"
After beginning in only 2009, this year's Dot Day has over 15,000 events scheduled with half a million kids around the world celebrating their own creativity. Most of this phenomenal growth was made possible through the use of social media in the classroom. For these students, social media is more than just about being on Facebook or Twitter. It is used to post ideas, share stories, notice positive actions, spread the word and influence children to make their mark. School blogs and wikis bring in other teachers, schools, parents and the entire community.
In yet another example of the positive use of today's technology in the classroom, Skype is a strong supporter of this program. As part of its social good mission, Skype in the classroom will enable teachers to connect their classroom with others from around the world to share their Dot Day activities and help students learn about different cultures. By removing technological, societal and cultural barriers to communications, they are participating in a program that could very well shape the minds of the next generation.
When used without thinking, social media ends up simply promoting celebrities or transmitting jokes. But integrating it into classroom lesson plans with thoughtful and uplifting projects like Dot Day shows how powerful this communication opportunity can really be. Sign up for Dot Day and find out for yourself what happens when social media helps half a million kids choose to matter.
Follow Jure Klepic on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jkcallas