Sunday, January 15, 2012

Social Media for Best Effect

Heidi Swank woke me up this morning with her latest blog post, The Comment that Changed My World.  She and her colleagues plan to do " some interesting work around deliberately constructing social media messages."  Swank will document her work on her blog.  This is an important next step for all of us who have embedded social media into our classroom life.  

At fourth grade, our social media is mainly our NING, a closed Facebook-like social media site where students, teachers and other family members share and discuss information with blog posts, comments, images and videos. Our most essential classroom links are posted there, and a Twitter-like stream logs the latest messages for quick review.  

Students "create curriculum" by posting links, questions, comments, videos and images that intrigue them.  They invite others to comment.  I post questions and information related to classroom events, content, processes and goals.  Each week we have one or more "must answer" questions that usually relate to an important classroom learning strand such as a class book, math concept, upcoming project or end-of-unit reflection.  As with any learning venue, some students and families gravitate quickly to this medium and use it well, while others are reluctant to get involved unless it's a "must answer" question.

As Heidi conducts her research, I'm wondering about the following questions:
  • What is the best way to introduce social media to parents, colleagues and students so that all are comfortable with the venue, and so that all understand the merits?
  • What are the merits of social media today?  I intuitively understand this, but what research backs up my intuition?
  • What is the best protocol for social media use?  
  • How do we use social media to promote "content creation" as Curran mentions in Swank's blog comment section?
  • What types of social media questions elicit greatest discussion and response?
  • How do we apply an apt developmental approach to this medium?  I start with "Guided Social Media," but wonder how to do this best in order to develop 21st century learners.
  • With the addition of social media in our classrooms, what are we taking away?  
  • What is the best way to develop writing/presentation (audio/visual) skill and response with social media?
I look forward to Swank's investigation and plan to follow it on her blog?  This is the time for this important research and conversation.  What questions and information do you have to offer?