Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Our Students Can't Be "Quiet" on Social Media in School

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With summer here, as well as a less hectic schedule, it is a great opportunity to catch up and revisit some of the great education-related books  out there. My first read is a quick revisit of "Quiet" by Susan Cain, a must-read for any educator who has not yet had the chance to pick up this insightful look at introverts. There is so much for educators to consider regarding Cain's work and how we create learning opportunities that really reach all learners.
A particular aspect of the book that struck me my second time through was a portion discussing the role that social media can play in giving introverts a voice in discussions. With so many schools, classrooms, and educators still dealing with discomfort at the thought of providing and encouraging students to utilize online tools to share their thoughts, I have concerns that we are missing a critical opportunity to engage some of our students in meaningful discourse and connections.
Cain says the following on this topic in the second chapter of her book:
"The same person who would never raise his hand in a lecture hall of two hundred people might blog to two thousand, or two million, without thinking twice. The same person who finds it difficult to introduce himself to strangers might establish a presence online and then extend these relationships to the real world."
I know many educators who can identify with this and we owe it to our students to ensure the same opportunity. This does not mean that every student needs to have online interaction for every discussion, but it does mean that we need to provide chances for every student to have experiences with online conversations at some point. Heck, by the time our students hit middle school they are most likely already engaged in some type of online social media interaction. My feeling is that we have to engage the adult learners in our schools in utilizing these resources in order to allow every student access.
As Cain states, "Social media has made new forms of leadership possible for scores of people..."
Hopefully, we can count all of the students in our schools among these scores of people!

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