The digital world creates an opportunity for us to be increasingly globally connected. Our social circles extend far beyond the streets and towns that once bound us. Children are born today into a world of unbridled possibilities, and equally enormous pressures.
As the digital revolution impacts the lives of our learners, teaching and learning practices must evolve in alignment. While concerns about cyberbullying and unfettered access to information incite caution, as educators we are faced with the challenge of developing teaching experiences which help our learners become safe and socially responsible users in this online space.
Social media provides an avenue for us to connect our students with people and places beyond the classroom walls. Networks such as Facebook and Twitter can be utilised to broaden our discussion groups and audiences. Building global relationships through these tools can enhance empathy, global awareness and lead to increased social good. Curation tools such as Pinterest can be used collaboratively encouraging shared discovery and knowledge creation. Exploring the ideas of others via creative tools such as YouTube, Instagram and Tumblr can also help our students to create, share and critique. Using platforms such as OpenIDEO and Zooniverse we can help learners realise their potential beyond than passive consumerism as they contribute solutions to real world issues.
As e-leaders, we need to encourage reflective learning focused use of social media. Running a workshop on the theme of global connectedness led to a critical discussion of this issue.
Presentation: Napier Girls High School, Global Connectedness Workshop (2016) by Heather McIntyre and Renee Raroa
As educators, we spend most, if not all of our time giving. We tend to live and breathe our professions, always thinking of the next act we can do or the next resource we might create for our learners. Unless others are around who we can engage in critical discussion with and who feed our inquiring natures, our busy schools and classrooms can be isolating.
Social media is powerful in its ability to connect us with a world of like-minded others and critical friends. Tools such as Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin provide forums for discussion and sharing across the globe. National initiatives such as the VLN support our drive to develop, relevant and culturally situated learning experiences for our learners and ourselves.
“It is timely to consider the extent to which online social networks present both challenge and opportunity for educators’ professional learning.” Melhuish (2013).
Melhuish, K.(2013) Online social networking and its impact on New Zealand educators’ professional learning. Master Thesis. The University of Waikato. Retrieved on 12 March 2016, from http://researchcommons.waikato.ac.nz/bitstream/handle/10289/8482/thesis.pdf?sequence=3&isAllowed=y
Twitterforeducation Wikispace. (2016) Educational Uses of Twitter. Retrieved on 12 March 2016, from https://twitterforeducation.wikispaces.com/Educational+Uses+of+Twitter