Summer is rapidly coming to a close. Students are heading back to their classrooms armed. That is correct, armed as in surgically attached to their mobile devices, tablets and laptops. Welcome to the New Classroom where digital literacy will enhance education.
At first educators were skeptical about allowing students to use their gizmos in class – a multi-tasking distraction where they could check text messages, emails, shop online, etc. Now, a new breed of educators is beginning to recognize that if utilized properly, technology can enhance their students’ overall educational experience. Smart move given some of the statistics that have been gathered:
• 98% of college students own a digital device; 38% indicate they cannot go 10 minutes without using a digital device.
• 75% of students claim they wouldn’t be able to study without technology.
• 91% use email to connect with their teachers; 8% use social sites.
So what are some of the different ways technology will be utilized this fall in the New Classroom, specifically as it relates to social media?
For starters, teachers from K-12 (primary and secondary schools) to universities are establishing classroom “backchannels” – real-time digital streams that enhance student engagement. By utilizing Twitter or other microblogging platforms, teachers have found a greater level of participation (e.g., information sharing, questions, etc.) among students, especially those that are normally reticent. Some universities have developed their own backchannel system. One example is Purdue University’s Hotseat which has proven very effective for large lecture halls.
Some schools this year will be replacing their static websites with a Facebook page or are encouraging students to use YouTube to publish their work. Teachers have learned that with careful planning and by encouraging students to post material online, they are witnessing a higher caliber of work. In addition, student/peer collaboration has been enhanced. Unfortunately numerous federal regulations still keep social networking sites off-limits. The American Library Association believes long-term, social media restrictions will constrain education. They advocate librarians and teachers need to educate minors digital literacy, how best to participate online responsibly, ethically and safely.
Welcome to the New Classroom. I am confident that the U.S. Department of Education will sort out all the pros and cons of digital education and reach a middle ground. However, I am beginning to wonder that as we experience the continual evolution of technology, are we going to witness the demise of brick and mortar classrooms.
What do you think?