In the summer of 2012, I traveled to Washington, DC to the Washington Journalism and Media Conference at George Mason University. During this week-long conference, I had the pleasure of listening to a speaker by the name of Matthew Schott. A publications advisor from Francis Howell Central High School in Cottleville, MO., Schott brought his humor-and more importantly, his knowledge on social media-to WJMC. A year later, here I am, a high school student from Franklin, IN. whom he’s never personally met, chatting him up on Twitter to get his input on the benefits of social media in the classroom. Lucky for me, Schott is friendly and-oddly enough-wasn’t concerned on how I obtained his contact information, kindly emailing me a detailed response.
Through a variety of questions, Schott suggested a certain teaching method that should be implemented into the education system that would seem quite early in the eyes of some.
“Teaching students to use Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, etc. should be the job of any responsible school district, likely starting in late elementary school and certainly by middle school.”
Elementary and middle schoolers may seem “too young” to some parents and educators to be on social media, but Schott had a reasoned argument.
“We should be starting with late elementary and middle schoolers because I think that’s when students are beginning to use social media. A friend of mine just mentioned his son, who’s 12, has 500 followers on Instagram. I don’t think it [should be] a huge portion of what you’re taught, but surely something like this can be worked into technology classes, social media, or English without much issue.
Those photos on Snapchat (and other networking sites/apps) don’t go away. It’s not easy to access them, but it can be done.”
How exactly, then, should education on social media be executed in the education system?
“I think districts need to, first of all, encourage teachers to use social media in their classes. It gives them a chance to model good behaviors. I don’t necessarily think there is a ‘right’ or ‘correct’ way to use social media, but schools need to do a better job of showing students how being irresponsible on social media (posting inappropriate pictures, swearing, excessive subtweeting, etvc.) can affect you and how you are viewed by colleges and employers: They’re watching and doing background checks on you on this stuff.”
On a final note, Schott had this caveat for students using social media for personal use:
“Students need to know the things they post on social media are there forever. They are like zombies. They live forever and can keep coming back to haunt you.”
I’m sure with popular TV shows such as The Walking Dead, many students can understand Schott’s simile and finally absorb this piece of wisdom.
Do you agree with Matthew Schott’s view on using social media in the classroom? Would you rather have your opinion featured? Contact me on Twitter at @paige_woodard or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your own opinion and/or comment your thoughts below! Also, frequently check this page for more perspectives on social media and Matthew Schott’s “Pub Media: Interview Pt. 2” for a read on how he uses social media in his own classroom.