I’m sure when we were able to get into this class, each of us was really excited for the opportunity to explore and delve into some of the nuances of tools we already use on a near constant basis. BC offering us the opportunity to learn practical applications for something we typically use to goof around seemed almost hedonistic. However, as it turns out – we’re already way, way behind on this social media education thing. Turns out it’s being taught in high school already.
While the structure and emphasis isn’t as formal or direct as what Professor Kane has provided us, grade schools are being forced to adapt and include social in their classrooms too. In a lot of ways, it’s actually helped learning and extended it beyond the normal constraints of the standard school day.
My wife is a high school teacher in Boston Public Schools. Until I asked her some questions about it, she had no idea so much of what she’s doing is based on social media and social technology. After giving it some thought, she realized it plays a big part in her daily lessons. Again, it’s not formalized – it’s just naturally finding its way into the curriculum.
To me, the biggest and most impressive use of social media in local high schools is with Google Docs. Teachers have their students write all of their papers and put together all of their presentations using Google Docs. This allows teachers the opportunity to provide notes and edits in real time, track progress and review various revisions. They can get through multiple students in a much shorter amount of time, which provides more time for the student to improve their work. It also expands the opportunity for feedback beyond the normal school day. My wife is editing her kids’ papers well into the evening. They’re also emailing and texting her on the weekends asking for advice on their projects. While this may seem like a lot of extra work for her, it has expanded her students’ ability to reinforce the lessons she is teaching, improved their retention and allowed my wife to cover more ground over the course of the year. Think about your high school experience for a second. How many drafts did you have to type and print and submit? Once the teacher got through one round and returned it with red ink, the whole process began again.
Not only do teachers use social with their kids on their projects, but they also leverage the collaborate abilities it provides with each other. A lot of cross-subject grading, student advancement initiatives and data tracking is done using Google and other social applications that allow teachers to work together. Each teacher can add individual pieces that provide a more holistic picture of the school’s results. This has become increasingly important with the amount of attention schools and their year-over-year achievement continues to generate.
Teachers also use social to interact in the most basic, yet still effective, ways. Many of the Boston Public School buildings are older and ill equipped for communication between classrooms. Where many schools in the more affluent suburbs are outfitted with phones in each classroom, BPS buildings are not. To accommodate, teachers communicate with each other throughout the day by texting or using things like WhatsApp. This allows them to warn each other of potential disciplinary issues as kids move class-to-class, communicate schedule changes or silently activate a lockdown. It’s a simple, yet useful tool in maintaining order in the absence of more common tools. Who knew teachers could be so savvy? It’s true what they say – teachers know every trick in the book!
But not all of grade school social education is focused on the ways it can make us more productive. Many of the presentations and class discussions in our course this semester have focused on the negative sides of social media – primarily cyberbullying. This is also discussed in high school classes. Teachers are battling the expansion and popularity of Snapchat and YikYak and are being forced to learn the ways they are abused. High schools must face the reality of students having and using cell phones. All the rules about leaving them in their lockers is only as good as their ability to monitor and enforce those rules. As a result, part of their curriculum has become an annual review of ethics and integrity in online media use.
For the most part, social media has provided some great opportunities at the grade school level. After our discussion, my wife believes its influence and incorporation will only grow. She cited how her school recently won a grant to purchase Chromebooks for each student for use in class. This has opened up the possibility of more interactive and collaborative lessons using the latest and greatest in applications. At a certain point, what we’re doing here in Social Media for Managers may become obsolete. Future BC students will have already covered it in high school.