July 28, 2014
A 1:1 Teacher’s Take On How Students Really Act Online
A Curated View
Is social media the “big fake?” Fake because there is so much more than what we see; fake because we post only what we want others to see: the good pictures, the happy moments, the extraordinary experiences, maybe even devastating occasions from which we seek someone with whom to commiserate. We post as if we live every moment looking our best and engaged with the spectacular, the proud, and/or the most disappointing. It works. We have an audience. But, social media is also hiding something – the rest of the story, the untold filler, the process of arriving at the captured moment. Process matters. The process of getting there is what makes the final post real.
This is all good for the world of education. Most everyone loves an audience. Social media is the stage on which we want to give only our best performance, and each growing generation is more accustomed to capturing the moment only to post as soon as possible. Likewise, we follow up by seeking immediate feedback: who saw the post, who commented, who ‘liked’ (literally) the performance. But, in education, the part that is hiding – the untold filler or the ugly moment in getting there – is concrete evidence of the learning process. When a student posts a culminating proud moment, a grand and glorious project, they are showcasing their passions, their message, their “I-am-Making-a-Difference-Moment.” They have illustrated knowledge gained or a viewpoint defended. When educators post a new find, a student success example, a curiosity, a pedagogical need, they are indeed posting their desire to improve their profession and reach their students. They are craving growth in their changing field. They may not post the steps along the way, the totally bombed failures, student work that has yet to arrive, or the unorganized nature in which they may have reached their goal. We do not see the outlines, the mind maps, the collaborative discussions, nor the long lists of curated material used. We do not see the multiple tries it took to get there. We see the big fake.
Views of Success
Educators, like others, post success: successful results of learning and successful contribution. Yet, there is nothing hidden to a true educator – the proof is in the post itself. What separates the use of social media for educators from others is that a true educator can allow nothing to be hidden to anyone and unfolds the process through the post. That is the learning process at its best, and perhaps this is the reason that social media is so exciting for teachers—the promise of the process. The broadcast or post is validation.
Our students, voracious social media users, may be hiding some of their story, faking perfection through their perfect-only final product. But, there is no “faking out” innovative educators – their teachers. Teachers know that the process of getting there is less than a perfect road and where the learning happens. The imperfect road becomes the strength of the lesson. They outline the task, encourage the process, and watch it unfold. Nothing is hiding from the teachers. Learning is in plain sight. Students know where they want to go, they know the world is their stage, and they are learning every step of the way.
It is no surprise that Twitter has a large population of educator use, or that Facebook is being used to brand our schools. Both platforms provide an audience, one that can grow and be specified. Successes can be broadcast quickly and easily. This can be a driving motivator for teachers and students to set a goal, to create, to connect, and to collaborate. It is just more fun to share.
In our inaugural year of a 1:1 program, this was the single greatest take-away in the classroom. Students crave a classroom without walls. They research, curate, dig, and explore with unmatched intensity when they believe feedback will come from beyond. They made movies, produced PSA’s (Public Service Announcements), back channeled, and published – incessantly seeking validation. Some tools that got them there:
This year, my students put their work out there for the greater audience. They shared on the big stage. And, what’s hiding in their social media posts is in plain sight to their teacher.