Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Earning a Learning Permit for Social Media

I was having a conversation over twitter with a colleague the other day about the limits of social media use for students under 13 years old. The mindset is often that since they can't have an account, they can't do anything with social media.  Students absorb so much from seeing something done, but social media can be invisible to a child when it's on a device and often it is deliberately kept away from them.

From a very young age, children are exposed to the role of driving a car. By the time they get their license, a large majority of children have been riding in a car for over 16 years. At 3 years old, my daughter understood the meaning of the red, yellow, and green stoplight and likes to remind me from the backseat. We need to find ways to expose students to social media before they are able to create their own accounts, just like they are exposed to driving before they get their license.

Listening to Jennifer Casa-Todd speak on George Couros's podcast, I was reminded of the importance of showing students the right path in social media and allowing it to set the tone for a positive extension of themselves. At 15, her daughter was in a job interview for a part time job and was asked what could be learned about her from social media. We don't want that answer to be negative or nothing at all. Geroge and Jennifer have both been inspirations to create digital leaders. Jennifer has a new book coming out soon called "Digital Leadia" and I'm excited to check it out soon.

So, how do we prepare students for social media before they can get their own account?

1. Post as a class account. Students under the age of 13 can use a google form to share tweet ideas with the teacher, then the teacher can tweet them out. Annie Forest used twitter in her sixth grade math classroom after being inspired by Alice Keeler to use a google form to allow students to send her tweets to add to the class account. Check out her blog post about it.

2. Show students the class twitter account. This step may seem obvious, but can be easily over looked. The connection needs to be made between information they are giving the teacher to post and how it is impacting others. Pull up the feed daily and explore what other classrooms are doing on twitter regularly.

3. Have online discussions in a student friendly platform. Using the discussion platform in class learning management system or google classroom is a safe place for students to practice sharing ideas with others online. They can see how their words can reach an audience. It gives them a feel for online interactions and a new platform to share their thinking.

4. Get started with blogs. Blogging is a thoughtful way to get students to start to build their online presence while experiencing sharing to a global audience. The key here is sharing. Share out student blogs on your class social media page to actually give the students the audience they are looking for. Encourage them to share their blogs with others.

5. Teach and model what to do when you come across inappropriate comments on social media. Is this someone you know? Would it make the situation better or worse to respond? Would sending a private message to the person be appropriate? When is it time to tell an adult? Explore these situations with students to help them problem solve issues that they may come across with social media.

So, let students be the backseat drivers of social media before they get their 'license.'

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