Facebook was opened up to non-Ivy league schools right at the end of my freshman year of college. I have participated on it for eight years, and I honestly have a very love/hate relationship with it. Having lived in the valley for 12 years, and being exposed to all the peer pressure and technology in it, I have tried Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Blogger, Diigo, friendster, foursquare, and Google+ (just to name a few) with varying degrees of success.
On the one hand, I love the “social” aspect of it: staying in touch with old friends, sharing information with geographically distant family members and crowdsourcing advice about random things. On the other hand, I don’t love the politics, digital Mommy Wars, keeping up with the Jones, fakebooking and cyberbullying that always lurks somewhere within my feeds. These pros and cons must be weighed when encouraging students to participate in social media in a learning environment.
Parents entrust their educational institutes with their most precious asset, their children. Just as we are expected to provide a safe environment that fosters growth, learning, and creativity, we have an equally larger responsibility in what we expose our students to. Introducing students to any aspect of social media requires just as much thought or planning as any other lesson plan or field trip. There are logistics, safety concerns, and learning objectives to be considered. You can just dump Twitter into class and hope it all turns out fine. Social media can be a learning tool, but it must be used with thought and care.