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
I recently learned about this great program offered by HootSuite for all those social media saavy college students. I thought I would post it here since it is a great way for college students to have their voice heard and increase their understanding of social media from a great company. If you don't have HootSuite I highly recommend it. It is the only way I am able to manage my time on social media.
According to HootSuite the gist of the program is
In one sentence, the program helps empower students to connect with each other, become leaders in the social media space at their school and community, as well as be the voice of HootSuite on campus. This program will give students a unique opportunity to build your own campus community and gain recognition by effectively using social media. By becoming a HootSuite Campus Ambassador, you will join an exclusive network of students from around the world, while at the same time gain valuable career experience.
I highly recommend that you share this with interested students you may know. Happy Hooting!
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.
Sorry this has taken be so long to write but my full-time job seems to have gotten in the way a little bit lately. But better late than never I suppose.
As I said in my previous blog, my next blog, this blog, would be my thoughts on social media engagement and interaction.
I want to start off my saying that I am obviously a huge fan of social media and believe that all organizations and individuals should be involved in social media in some way since it is not going away and in fact is only going to continue to grow.
H0wever, with that being said, I also think it is extremely easy to become obsessed with social media and it can easily become your life. Do you ever notice those people that even in meetings can help but check their Facebook status or Twitter feed in the middle of the meeting or post what they ate for lunch as they are eating it? I will admit that sometimes I am in this person (not the lunch part though ;). However, I am come to also realize that in some cases in-person or direct contact of some sort is much more appropriate.
Many people have asked me in the last couple of years if I think social media will replace all in-person contact. My answer to that is no. I think it is still important to have direct contact with people. What I also tell them is that social media can play a part in generating this direct contact because it creates the ability to meet people and network which then leads to these direct contacts. I can't tell you the number of people I have met because of me stepping into the social media realm that I would never have had the opportunity to meet without being on Facebook and Twitter. I will also say that it is a little strange to talk to someone for years, virtually, via Facebook and Twitter, but have never met them. But, once I do meet them, it is like I already know them due to our social media interactions.
So while I do think that social media is important and extremely useful I don't think it is taking away from or making people more impersonal. In fact, I think it is doing the opposite in that it is generating more engagement just on a different level. Social media is, however, creating the need for us to teach our students, and even ourselves, how to understand the difference between social media "speak" and real world, in-person "speak". These are two different types of "speak" that cannot always be intermingled. Basically, this world of social media has come along and created its own vernacular and when people become so entrenched in it the forget how to use real world "speak". So it is up to use to continue to educate ourselves and those around us on when each of these forms of communication are used and how to use them appropriately.
Do you agree? What are you thoughts on this?
I thought I would write a post this time. I have had several guest bloggers lately but haven't really said anything myself so I thought I would weigh in on a few things.Lately, there have been quite a few interesting posts about the use of social media. From everything to use in higher education to no longer needing business cards.While I am an obvious supporter of social media these articles made me stop and think. I think social media tools are great and useful but the questions these articles and the use of social media in general have raised for me, and I know for many others, is does the use of social media make us more impersonal and anti-social in in-person settings? Also, do you think kids/students today are more or less engaged as a result of social media use?I know these are not easy questions to answer but I thought I would put them out there and see what you think about them. I will post what I think in another blog in the next week or so but I don't want my opinions to sway yours. I want to see what others really feel about this topic. What have your interactions with students and colleagues made you think in regards to these questions?I look forward to reading your comments!
Many people in international education often wonder "Why should I use social media?" or will say "I work in international education so how does social media fit?" In this post I want to address this idea.
All of this, of course, is my opinion but it is based on over five years experience in the field of international education which includes starting my own office from scratch, working in a one-person office, as well as developing and implementing faculty-led programs among many other duties.
I have found social media to be a perfect fit for international education. Here is why.
It allows people who are being asked to do more with less to be able to continue to do more. For example, instead of having to read three or four newspapers every day or go to four or five different websites I receive the news instantly via my Twitter account or through Facebook. For instance, when the State Dept. posts a travel warning it hits Twitter first before it hits my email. This also allows me and others who I have talked to about this to actually more effectively and efficiently do our jobs because it saves time and we actually get the news much quicker and can respond, if need be, much faster.
In addition, I am also able to monitor much more closer what is being said about my programs as well as my office. Instead of waiting for a complaint to come in via someone calling or coming in in-person (which they still do), I can monitor the internet using key terms as well as various social media sites to see what students are saying about our programs and can address any issues (positive or negative) much faster. (People actually do say some really great positive things about what people are doing within international education that most won't know about unless they were on social media.)
Finally, I love using social media to promote our programs. I post photos, repost student blog entries, post news articles and much more. This not only allows me to let other students know about the great things we are doing but also lets faculty, other universities, our providers, as well as the general public know the great things our students are doing to make themselves citizens of the world.
Social media really does have reach. I have actually been contacted by the press after posting information about a program. So what you post really does matter.
These are only some of the reasons that international education and social media are a great fit. I encourage others within the international education field who are using social media to add further to my list by commenting to this post.
Thanks and more soon!
P.S. You can also find out about a lot of great free or low cost resources, workshops, and webinars by being on Twitter and Facebook. With these economic times that is a major plus.