When I was in school, checking my Facebook page (or MySpace when it was cool) would easily get you detention. In fact, I’m pretty sure the site was blocked on school computers. Recently, however, I thought since technology and social media communication permeates the modern world, why is it not part of the education system? Although most social media sites were created primarily for personal communication, now we are seeing how they can be assets in the professional sphere. In my opinion, students should be learning how to manage these sites responsibly and use them to their advantage.
I asked my younger sisters who are in high school and middle school if they had updated the computer class curriculum since I had been there, and I was shocked to learn they are still spending the class period learning to type!
Kids these days are basically born knowing how to type and manage electronic devices so why are we wasting time teaching them how to type? With all the instant messaging, texting, and computer usage by children and young adults, they are probably typing more wpm than their teachers.
That being said, it’s about time Facebook is introduced to the classroom because it can greatly benefit the younger generation to learn how to use social media sites correctly and in a way that can potentially enhance their future professional lives. One of the reasons social media sites are so shunned in school is because of the trouble kids find themselves in by misusing them – bullying, jealousy, illegal activities, etc. can all be attributed to irresponsible posts made by individuals. If children were taught social media etiquette from the beginning, and informed of the potential consequences of abusing Facebook, I think a lot of the stigma of social media could be erased.
Also, with computer technology being such a vital part of the workplace, I think students should learn more in-depth computer skills than typing. If students learned basic programming skills and how to operate more advanced programs than Microsoft Word and Powerpoint, we would be seeing incredible technological advances in our society.
If I were to re-write computer classroom curriculum, this is what I, Kimberly, would include:
1. Classroom blog (All students would take turns posting. This can enhance those typing skills while also including creative writing, social interaction, and expanded knowledge on a certain topic)
2. Social media etiquette
- Privacy settings
- How to present yourself in a positive manner (none of those self-pictures in your bathroom mirror of you making a duck face while giving a peace sign)
- Social media in professional setting (FB business page, marketing, etc.)
3. Basic computer programming (It is such a needed skill now! Imagine if it became second nature for the young generation)
4. Website construction (Using a basic site like Word Press or Google sites, students can make their own personal site or be creative by making a site for an imaginary business)
I have no background in education, so I have no idea how this would actually play out, but I think technology education needs a kick in the pants in some schools!
Does anyone know of schools that are taking this initiative to amp up computer classes? What else would you include in these classes?
A dear friend and I in Toronto, Canada
This may be a bit dramatic, but I am convinced I would not survive before the existence of Internet connections and online communication. Granted, this has to do with perspective; of course, I would not realize I was missing such an awesome tool for information and keeping in touch if it had not existed yet. All I know is I am thankful to be alive in this current age because I am not much of a snail-mail girl.
These thoughts came to me recently as I have been in the Dominican Republic for the past two and a half months. I found myself missing my friends and family back home when I realized I have nothing to complain about. With such easy access to social media due to the ever-increasing availability of Wi-Fi, I am frequently in contact with people from home. All I have to do is scroll through Facebook and I am immediately filled-in on people’s lives. Instagram, however, has been my preferred medium because it’s fantastic to just browse through photos without the clutter of lots of text and ads that Facebook can have. (It also makes me feel like a professional photographer with all the fancy filters.)
The benefit of using social media while abroad is a two-way street, however, because friends and family can keep up with me as well. Instead of calling or emailing parents, grandparents, siblings, and friends, all of these important people in my life (plus random acquaintances and the occasional stalker) are updated on my life in one fell swoop as I post photos and status updates.
One of the greatest ways social media has impacted my abroad experiences, however, is by giving me an ability to maintain friendships that began abroad. My Facebook friends consist of people I met on various trips, and I am so glad to be able to maintain those friendships today. I can honestly say if it weren’t for social media, I would never be able to communicate with so many people I met abroad. Although they were in my life for a brief period, we can maintain a relationship thanks to the upgrade from snail-mail.
All these advancements in social media communication, however, do come with a few drawbacks: it can be way more impersonal when I am not contacting to loved ones directly, so I make an effort to call or email those exceptionally special people (consider yourselves lucky ;)) Also, constantly being connected to people from home can distract from your abroad experience if you are not careful. Especially if you are only spending a semester abroad, it is important to take advantage of every minute in this new and exciting place. Home will be there when you get back, and I can bet you that not much will have changed in four months. I met too many people as an undergrad who I believe missed out on their experience abroad by being on Skype for hours at a time every day with people from home. Doing this, unfortunately, makes you miss home way too much and keeps you from making great connections with friends abroad.
I encourage those of you planning on going abroad to set a certain time of day or week for social media use, and catch up with friends and family during that time slot only, so you can take full advantage of exploring your surroundings!
How have you seen social media while traveling help or harm you?
Are there any apps or websites that are particularly helpful for communicating while abroad?
-Kimberly, Mandy's Mashups Intern
A topic that always causes people a little bit of concern when they think about social media use is using students to generate content. I wanted to address this topic in this post because I feel it is important for people to face their fears in some cases and hopefully this post will help alleviate some concerns.
Starting in the fall I employed a student, who had previously studied abroad, to be our Global Ambassador. One of the major duties of this position was to take on our social media campaigns. Rather than give her all our social media channels to work with I limited it to Facebook to start since this was the channel she has the most experience with.
I am here to tell you that our Facebook page has exploded with more interaction because of her work. We worked together to start and she came up with a theme each week to post on the page. She only works in the office about 5 hours per week so she doesn't have a huge amount of time to post. However, with the ability to schedule posts on Facebook pages, she has been able to work for only one hour per week and schedule posts for the entire week in that one hour. Some of the themes have included particular countries where we have programs, scholarships, and deadlines.
Her fellow students have loved her posts and I am able to track the interactions with Facebook insights. She also created a campaign, on her own, to increase the number of Fans we had and we were able to get 40 new fans in just a little less than a week.
Whenever I mention using a student as mentioned above some people cringe because they fear the additional work monitoring a student would entail. In all honesty I have done very little monitoring of her posts. What I did was explain to her in the beginning what I was looking for and emphasized the fact that she was representing our office and our institution and should keep that in mind when posting. That is all it took. Now, I know that not all students work out as nicely as she has but with a little guidance and some patience you can really make student work count. Her fellow students relate to her posts and we have made it seem as it is coming from our office which is a great for us.
I have posted a few screen shots of our page below.
I would love to hear what your experience has been with working with students in regards to social media. No story is too small.
Welcome to the first posting of Mandy's Mashups. A new company created to meet your social media needs. My goal with both my company and this blog is to provide interesting and useful information for both individuals and groups to aid them in their use of social media tools. Social media is definitely not going anywhere soon so it is important that people and organizations know how to use the various tools that are involved and know how to use them in a way that will benefit their organization or themselves. In reality this is not hard to do but it does take knowing the right tools and how to use them to their fullest potential to be able to make full use of the power of social media.
Stay tuned for more to come from Mandy's Mashups!