“Did you read it?” “Did you read it?”  … goes the Portlandia sketch.  For the 21st century teacher, it should be did you Tweet it/Post it?

I never realized the potential of using Twitter for education. One day, when I had fallen down the rabbit hole that is Google searching, I found this easy to follow flowchart that said I should be using Twitter, so I created an account.

Now that I have started COETAIL, I can see the benefits immediately. For example, I am following people and projects that interest me, some in education and some not. It is such an easy way to build my PLN and to connect with people and to learn about things that are going on.  I have wasted years not using social media to build a network of sharing.  I have only just begun tweeting and retweeting items, but I am already getting ideas about ways to improve my classroom.

As I have been finding people and projects to follow, I have become interested in finding a global collaborative project for my grade 3 class. My students are predominantly Chinese, and I would like to expose them to different cultures, students, and ways of life while also giving them the opportunity to share about their Chinese way of life. In my readings of other COETAIL blogs, I have learned about stories of a lifetime and traveling tales and other ways in which I can use simple technology to connect with those around the world. Through my investigations, I have found The Wonderment, which is a simple idea where classes can create challenges for other students or classes to join them in completing. I have signed up and have begun the process of creating a challenge with my class. Global collaborative projects meet many of the ISTE standards and are an easy way to integrate technology into classrooms.  This is how I plan to use social media to bring the world to my students.

The internet and social media are powerful tools that should be harnessed to the greatest affect in the classroom.  Social media and technology use has benefits and negatives, the question becomes do the benefits of technology outweigh the negatives.

In my opinion, the benefits are far more powerful than the negatives. What teachers need to build into their teaching is responsibility for and ownership of their learning by the students. Teachers as wells as parents need to instill a sense of balance in their children. Social media should be used in moderation, like many things in our lives. Many of the negatives of social media have to do with attention span and changes to the brain. Creating a culture of balance and responsible use can help mitigate these issues.

How do we do this as teachers?  We need to remind ourselves that we not preparing students for a “job” we are preparing them to be critical thinkers and problem solvers. Teachers should be modeling the use of PLNs to show students the benefits of reaching out to others for help. Are the students creating networks of their own? Do the students have the basic skills to navigate the internet and understand the information that they are seeing. Do they understand the sources they are using? Are they falling for “Fake News?”

As the influence of digital technology – and especially the internet – has increased, the debate about its impact has grown louder: Is it a boon to humankind, offering unlimited opportunity for communication and commerce, learning and free expression? Or is it a threat to our way of life, undermining the social fabric, even the political order, and threatening our well-being? Children in a Digital Age UNICEF Report

It is a tool that will always be used for good and for ill. Our job is to mitigate the harms and expand the opportunities digital technology makes possible.  Children in a Digital Age UNICEF Report

Are people using social media and technology for the benefit of society and building positive networks or are they creating and spreading a culture of negativity and hatred. The ability to use our technological advances for good, to build a positive future for the is what the students of today need to be able to do. That is the goal of integrating technology into our lessons.  It is to give students the ability to process the complex world they live in and use their knowledge in a positive way.