03 September 2012

SOCIAL MEDIA, SOCIAL TEACHING: in crisis comes opportunity?

   A Taiwanese friend often reminds me of the Chinese proverb "in crisis comes opportunity," and this year I am making it part of my truth. My school is implementing new social media policies to support the mission of our diocese, so my job on this Labor Day is to figure out what I am going to do with tumblr, Twitter, Blogger, Wikispaces, Instagram, Pinterest, and flickr. Facebook, Google+, YouTube are already decided for me. Posting this twitpic from last February seemed like a good idea as I try to reconcile the benefits that I reap with students from embedding social media in my instruction with the very real problems in "social" teaching that all teachers must acknowledge. My school administration has always supported and trusted me, so I am continuing with Blogger and Wikispaces, but I am not sure if my great idea for "this I believe" boards on Pinterest will fit  the new rules. It is also difficult to visualize our nascent online news "paper" without Twitter, and it is up to me to work through the details so that my administrators can guide my plans.
   And Twitter...it is impossible to explain the impact Twitter can have on the big picture with a group of students--I do not use Twitter directly at present, but I sure do use it as a backchannel outside of class. All of you who use it know the ancillary benefits that can come from every single view of your last 4 star rating on a book on Goodreads that student followers see.
   So far, I think that I should err on the side of caution, which means Twitter will be a no-go for this year. Since I used it informally, I will be the only one who feels the instructional loss. I will miss the direct contact with students, but the most difficult part will be explaining that I must block them--they will want to smell censorship, so I will have to reassure them. And does my administration know that blocking them will not necessarily  remove them from all interaction with me on Twitter? I am not sure.
   How do you manage the gap between what you know works and your responsibility to protect your students?

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