Social Media in the Classroom

Week One: Embarking on a Social Journey


I think that I may be a technology diystopian’ist’.  I have to admit that the idea of communicating in a social media based world, is a complicated proposal.  I think that I put myself in this category (if there is such a thing) because of the temporary nature that I see social media existing in.  To me communication is deep and meaningful.  something to be mulled over and contemplated.  In most of the media formats that I am aware of are limited in the amount you can actually say at any given time.

I have been fortunate enough to have taken an intern this semester, and he is a social media denizen.  He communicates through social media in a way that truly confounds me.  I hate the idea that I am a traditionalist in my practice, however, in watching the way that my intern navigates and participates in social media.  Tweets fly rife with symbols and, although I hate to admit it, meaning.

It is this meaning and the purpose of communicating in this way that escapes me…or currently escapes me.  What is the purpose of this medium?  Do kids really use this as a means of communication?  Can social media enhance my teaching?  I cant yet answer this question for my personal practice but, I can definitely see how social media does these things for the practice of my intern.  He has been exposed and formed, well his practice anyway, in the context of this medium.  My intern does not see technology as a tool, but rather an environment.  This is where we differ.  I must admit it does seem more a chasm than a gap, however, with a bit of learning I can at least see the benefit of social media as a community rather than an activity.

I am fortunate to have an interpreter on this particular journey, and believe that I am not the only one to benefit from a move towards an online forum to explore and share ideas and understandings.  I think that my students also need to see this as an environment for more than just entertainment, but also one of sharing and engagement.

We have started, and in traditional style, created table top ‘communities’  leaving ‘messages’ on our desks and moving around the room ‘visiting’ others sites.  This was a great way to demonstrate the way in which we can not only interact but also’ share’ ideas.  A discussion on how this is effective will follow.  Moving to an online collaboration using Google Docs to share ideas with others in the school.  I admit this is as much me learning the environment as it is them.  Yet maybe this is the best part of internet learning.  Maybe the ability to participate in an environment without feeling out of place, is technically having that environment not be a… place?


Author: 2014shaunhorsman

Teacher seeking to better implement and understand the role of technology in the classroom... and outside the classroom.

2 thoughts on “Week One: Embarking on a Social Journey

  1. I was so hoping that this would be your experience-for you both! I had DB for 3 days in my classroom in the spring & learned so much! This is the great thing about mentoring interns- the learning goes both ways!


  2. After reading your post, I was struck by a few things. Social media is a great tool for communication and, as your intern has demonstrated, can be imbued with deep meaning in 140 characters. Like texting, the medium is a place that takes time to adjust to and become comfortable. One must remember that the iPhone, really the tool that started this all, was introduced in June of 2008 and the iPad, which started yet a further step in the revolution, was introduced in 2010. In that time, many youth were able to adapt and adopt these tools so that using them becomes second nature. Much akin to gaming, having the time to play the games is an important aspect of developing the skills. If you do not have the time or the access to games, it rarely comes naturally.

    As a parent with 8 children, I have watched my own children adapt and adopt these tools in their own lives. What is curious is that, as they have grown up, different tools begin to take on different roles in their lives depending on what they are doing. Although social media is still a part of their lives, as they have had their free time reduced, they have had to pick and choose about how they spend their time. Although they still use Social Media, they are selective about this use – none of them use twitter much. They have other methods of social interaction.

    As for you state, social media is a medium but that isn’t just limited to one form and people find they function better using different formats – twitter, pinterest, FB, Google+, Voxer, LinkedIn, SnapChat to name a few of the popular options. Despite being uncomfortable, you have experience with students that, once you begin to use different options, will allow you to see different avenues for integration. You might not have a comfort level – YET. The great thing is that you have a whole group of willing learners who will walk with you as you explore and learn.

    My youngest son, now 6, began playing Minecraft 2 years ago. He is now able to do amazing things. Why? He has spent a number of hours learning to play, he has had mentors, his older brothers, help him and allow him to play with them. He isn’t held back because he’s afraid to make a mistake, he knows that he can just start over. As a game player, he will surpass his brothers because he will have more time as they become involved in sports and have less time to play. I say all this because I have worked with teachers as they begin and don’t feel capable or able or….. but they are, they did and, in time, you will.

    Our experience is situated in time, space and place. I would offer that the online space/place is as real as any other – it allows me to take the time to comment and assure you that you will be able to find a place/space. I’ve never met you but I have worked with many teachers and know you, by virtue of being a teacher, will be able to integrate technology, just not as you would like – YET!

    When it comes to technology, we sometimes suffer from “periphery paralysis” where we see what others are doing in our periphery vision and it seems so much better than we are doing and we forget that it took time for them to get there and we don’t know what their story is, all we see is the “amazing” things they do. It’s good to acknowledge what others are doing and learn from them, to enter into collaborative relationships for our development but we aren’t them and, given time, there are many great things we will do.

    Please, allow yourself time to learn and, although you may not be “tweeting, snapping or pinning”, YET, there are ways that what you are already doing as a teacher fit so well with integrating social media and collaborative learning. AND you have the one thing that students need, the experience to guide them as they travel the various paths looking for knowledge, developing understanding, creating and innovating. You can join each one of them on their magic carpet ride, learning and growing along with them. Enjoy all the wonders!


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