I’ve spent years espousing the wonders of social media, tech, and all the wizardry of our digital age. Though like many of us, I’ve been sidetracked by the negative aspects of these developments, I still passionately believe they offer wonderful opportunities to educate and foster creativity, when channeled correctly.
In my book LIFESCALE, I spend a lot of time addressing healthy ways to solve the problem of device and social media addiction. Obviously, if our obsession with likes, notifications, and gaming apps distracts us from healthy social interactions and productivity, these things can be destructive.
Yet in one of the key early chapters titled “Believe,” I discuss my belief in the importance of creativity and outside-the-box thinking. In a large “post-it” under the chapter heading, I emphasize “Life is less alive without creativity.” After praising Apple’s “Think Different” campaign, which highlighted the dreamers in our society whose visions helped shape our culture, I lament the fact that “we have been educated – and are still educating our children – out of distinctive flair.”
My belief is that when we tell kids to stop doing something they love, reprimand and punish them for it, this will have an adverse impact on their desire to express creativity. They may even think their passions and creative thoughts are things to be ashamed of.
Which is why I was absolutely delighted to discover an article on the LiveTiles website called “5 Reasons to Use Social Media in the Classroom.”
By using social media in the classroom, teachers and students have a chance to explore the different educational benefits of today’s digital technology. This can be extremely helpful, and rather than punish students for checking their smartphones, teachers should teach them how to manage this technology and use it for good.
LiveTiles addresses this daily dilemma with five points which I am excited to share:
- Students are already using social media, anyway.
Students shouldn’t be penalized for using the devices and services that are quickly becoming staples of everyday life. Instead, they should be encouraged to use them respectfully and responsibly. Teachers should challenge students to use social media in creative ways that augment the classroom experience.
- Social media integration discourages cyber-bullying.
Social media applications such as Yammer provide a more intimate digital space in which students and educators can interact. Integrating social media elements into the classroom raises the concern of introducing more opportunities for cyber-bullying. However, because teachers can moderate interactions with Yammer, the digital classroom will be established as a respectful place for students to express their insights and ideas.
- Social media can encourage thoughtful discourse.
The pressure of giving the right answer in a timely fashion can sometimes cause students to blurt out responses that aren’t fully formed. By moving the discourse online and giving students time to think about their responses, more can delve deeply into a topic and respond after they’ve had enough time to reflect.
- Social media facilitates a sense of reliability and community.
School can be a hectic experience. With all the distractions present in everyday life, a little support can go a long way. Having a digital classroom that encompasses one’s peers beyond just personal friendship can be a great forum to set up study groups and impromptu brainstorming sessions. It can even be a place for struggling students to voice frustrations with the class and ask for help.
- Social media encourages increased responsibility and autonomy.
Embracing social media in the classroom can encourage more responsibility among students regarding their education. It can also help emphasize interpersonal relationships based on education rather than entertainment.
For educators open to new ideas, LiveTiles’ constructive method for integrating social media into the classroom is just the type of approach we should be trying to create community and encourage thoughtful discourse, rather than gossip, bullying, social competition and all the well-documented negatives associated with social media and our schools.