As I’m catching up on some interesting finds on the internet this weekend, I stumbled onto a few posts that seemed to connect around this idea of advocating for the use of the Internet and social media. In the first post, Mimi Ito shares What Teens Get About the Internet That Parents Don’t. The title intrigued me because my sense is that students have a more positive outlook on the internet than adults do. Ito confirms this in the article by citing some of her own research. I’ve not done any formal research in my own world, but it seems that many adults view the internet largely as a distraction for children (social media, funny videos, playing games, etc.) with only limited understanding of its full potential for learning. How do we go about changing this adult-centric paradigm? How do we reshape this thinking and uncover for adults the positive outcomes of using the internet for connected learning?
The second post I want to share on the topic contains a treasure-trove of information and links about Using the Internet and Media to Enhance Social-Emotional Learning. In this post, Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D., shares examples from reports and research about “the benefits that technology, the Internet, and social media have in building and enhancing social-emotional skills.” Parents and educators who view the internet negatively should spend some time reading this post and browsing the links to learn about ways the Internet can help develop the less-talked about and assessed social-emotional skills. Be sure to work your way through the article where Gerstein shares links to additional blog posts on the effects of the internet/social media and the development of social-emotional skills. Finally, for those looking for classroom applications, there is a robust list included at the end of the post.
To change the negative perception, we can embed the tools of the internet and social media into the daily learning and operations of our schools and districts. This will need to start with our leaders. George Couros provides resources explaining the WHY and HOW in Social Media for Administrators, a collection of posts from his own blog. This post should be required reading for all administrators so they can model this world for the other adults in the learning community – teachers and parents. School leaders need to take the lead to change the conversation and uncover the opportunities the internet and social media offer our students and our world. Interested? The resources in this post are a place to begin.