My husband and I were recently having a discussion about social media. With his new job he has created a Twitter account and is learning the ins-and-outs of social networking advertising. He said he was impressed with my Twitter account and how I follow people and businesses that pertain to special education, education technology, and assistive technology. I got to thinking about how social media has impacted me. I have met many new colleagues, gained countless resources, and learned tons of new and up-to-date information. With Facebook hitting 500 million users this week (good time for a blog post on social media, right?), social media is impacting our society in a big way. But how, HOW, do we get this into the classroom? How can our students with special needs take on the monster that is social media? Well, some have already been doing it for quite awhile - and with great finesse.
Check this out: http://www.hpjh.blogspot.com/ The students at Highland Park Junior High School in St. Paul, Minnesota are using a blog to practice their writing skills. They are also using VoiceThread, Flickr Creative Commons, and many other Web 2.0 tools. They are communicating with ebuddies both on and off the blog.
Here is an article from Mashable offering 4 tips for social media in the classroom. http://mashable.com/2010/05/11/social-media-school/
Here is another article giving 100 ways to use social media in the classroom: http://www.onlineuniversities.com/blog/2010/05/100-inspiring-ways-to-use-social-media-in-the-classroom/
I could give you many more articles about advice and ways for using social media in your classroom, but the important part is to find out what works best for your students. Find out how many of your students are using social media. They may have some insight for you! Perhaps they can explain hashtags and the difference between TweetDeck and HootSuite. Maybe your students transitioning out of high school are already using TweetMyJobs to find post-secondary employment. If your students aren't social media savvy, then how about learning together? Explore the social media universe and bring it back to your students. Ask your technology integration staff for help, if need be.
Although social media may seem like a monster (roar!), what we need to remember is that social media is about connecting people. Connecting me to other assistive technology professionals, connecting car sales to their customers, connecting news to readers, connecting educators to other educators, connecting our transitioning students to jobs, and connecting our students with disabilities to the world.
Let's get connected.