Is There Room For Social Media Use in Higher Education?

In February, I ran across this article written by Rachel Reuben titled “The Use of Social Media in Higher Education for Marketing and Communications: A Guide for Professionals in Higher Education” and was immediately intrigued by the content of the article. Unfortunately the most recent citation it has is from 2008 and the article primarily focuses on utilizing Myspace and older social sites in higher education, but the concepts are still relevant to the social media sites we use today. Throughout my research I have crossed paths with the first visual included in the article that depicts the variety of social media networks available in the 21st century and categorizes them in terms of their primary use. Most of the sites included on the graph are sites I have never heard of (seriously, what is hi5 and was it really used as a social media site?) but the article does speak of a social networking site I believe we all are very familiar with: Facebook.

Though I have strayed away from discussing most social networking sites besides Twitter on my blog since beginning my mission, there are numerous sites that can be utilized for personal and professional use for students, educators, and other professionals. In my personal social media dictionary, Facebook as been defined as “a social networking site utilized primarily for personal conversations with friends and family.” It is considered more personal than Twitter and is usually not used for professional use; however, it has benefits that Twitter does not have, such as free reign of characters in a single post and the ability to create events–which would be extremely beneficial for those trying to connect professionals to each other and in a safe environment to meet, collaborate, and network.

Moreover, this article discusses how social media can be used in higher education and provides statistics about college students utilizing a variety of sites. If these statistics were then used to help universities understand how beneficial social media could be for their classes, once again, students would be provided the opportunity to network with professionals and propel their career forward. In college, students are encouraged to intern at different places and explore career opportunities. What better way to get connected with these professionals/businesses than social media?

College is meant to be a vessel from high school (childhood) to the real world and your professional career (adulthood). Thus, students are encouraged to intern at businesses similar to their future careers and make connections with professionals that will help them climb the business ladder. If high school students and younger people are utilizing social media for a professional use, then those students enrolled at a collegiate level should as well.

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When Did High Test Scores Reflect Student Success?

I mentioned Suli Breaks and his Youtube video “Why I Hate School But Love Education” in my blog post “A Student’s Revelation & The Calm To Follow.” His poems inspired me to chase after my dream of starting my own business and producing my DVD because his message to students is that a college degree does not automatically equal success and a lack of college education does not automatically equal failure. In another video, “I Will Not Let An Exam Result Decide My Fate,” Breaks speaks directly to students and asks, “How many times have you remembered something 5 minutes just after the teacher said, “Stop writing” only to receive your results a month later to realize that you were only 1 mark short of the top grade? Does that mean remembering 5 minutes earlier would’ve made you more qualified for a particular job?” My answer would be no, though Breaks points out that, unfortunately, on an application form it would.

“I Will Not Let An Exam Result Decide My Fate.” – Suli Breaks

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For months I have advertised my idea for integrating social media into the education system and have, therefore, suggested the need for a reform in education. I have stated students do not enjoy school, as it does not teach them–us–the information appropriate for our 21st century workforce. I have argued students’ methods of compiling a plethora of information before an exam, regurgitating facts for that final A, and then dumping out the material before consuming another load for the next semester. Despite the fact that I  have previously written a post about the changes coming to the SAT in 2016, this is simply not enough. What I am calling for is a complete overhaul of the education system’s current regulations and standards, as well as the messages they send to students.

As many educators are aware, many students today lack passion and interest in their own education. To them, learning is another mundane action that leads to no benefits or gratification. However, what would happen if they were able to personalize their education and pursue their personal interests while still meeting state standards? Would they not be more motivated to continually gather more information about topics that relate to their interests? Would this method not reinvigorate students’ love for learning?

I understand that it takes two to tango: Not only do the teachers need to prepare the student for the opportunities they will be given when utilizing social media for professional use and exploring their own interests/future careers, but the students themselves need to be receptive to the information and “101 guides” on how to properly maneuver these new forums they will be given, such as social media sites and the freedom and responsibility to make good choices. But do we students not deserve it?

Do we not deserve the opportunity to expand our learning past the four walls of a traditional classroom? Do we not deserve to be encouraged to follow our dreams, to be invigorated with the messages our forefathers sent us about chasing after what you believe in and standing up for your rights? Do we not deserve a chance to be more successful than those who have walked before us?

We, as the future generations and the future of this society, nation, and world, deserve these opportunities. Because these opportunities will not solely benefit us and our future wealth and success. These opportunities to be creative, innovative, professional, and entrepreneurial will not only inspire us to continue learning and researching about the newest technologies available for our respective careers but will inspire us to create the next software company that is 100% free of scams and viruses, to develop the cure for diseases such as AIDS and cancer, to join together as one in hopes that we will create a better future for our own children and the generations to follow in our footsteps. My mother and countless other parents around the world have told their children that they want them to have a better life than their parents. So why are we prohibiting the means to achieve that goal?

Intelligence cannot be determined solely by an exam grade, ISTEP score, or SAT achievement. It cannot be measured by achievement tests, projective tests, or any other type of test that officials have created to measure what they believe defines intelligence. And the scores students receive on quizzes, exams, and standardized tests do not define their future.

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Reality vs. Representation

In reality, water is present because we need it to survive and, in reality, my DVD was created as a final product of my social media education mission. However, if we look at what each of these things represent, they tell an even greater story. In literature, water is present whenever an author wants to signal a turning point in the story through symbolism. And my DVD is not only a final product for my senior year, but the beginning of a career in business.

“Social Networks, Educator Empowerment, and Student Success” is not simply a tangible object that signifies the end of my senior year and Innovations class project. It represents the research and collaboration I have conducted in the last eight months. In addition, it provides administrators the opportunity to look through a high school student’s eyes of why social media is beneficial in the classroom and how others have incorporated it into their own curriculum. But it also symbolizes a turning point in the education system.

The current education system needs an update. It still values technology and information that has long been deemed outdated and is still very traditional in its facilitation of student success. It encourages strict standards for students, which usually means a lack of creativity and innovation, and it even tells students they will not be successful unless they take as many AP classes as they can without their head exploding from the hours-long AP tests at the end of the year. Though I am on my way out of secondary schooling and moving on to college (which I hear is more relaxed and provides room for creativity), I still want these aspects of the lower grades of education to change or at the least be modified to reflect the 21st century and its demands of certain skills in the workplace.

Thus, I hope by watching my DVD, educators and education officials will be inspired by my words and are motivated to make a change in the current system. I was lucky enough to have the chance to expand my learning past the four walls of a traditional classroom and was fortunately able to achieve success through this method; however, a majority of students are not given this opportunity. As I stated in my interview with Jenn Scheffer, which can be found in my blog post “Digital Citizenship, Marketing, and Emoticons,” the success I have found in just my senior year is amazing, but imagine what students would be accomplishing not only in the education system but in the professional world if they met similar opportunities to my own in elementary or middle school, or even just as a freshman in high school. These students would be hungry for power and would have the tools and skills to possess it. They would be striving for success, which was oddly once the motto for my school, beyond simply graduating high school on time. These students would be conquerers.

Considering the connotation that is associated with “conquerers,” the power held by the word could be taken out of context from my use of it. I want students, my peers and younger, to conquer the professional world. I want them to take the reigns out of the teacher’s hands and move forward with determination, passion, and an air of accomplishment. I want teachers to lead a classroom filled with innovation, creativity, intelligence, wisdom, and the opportunity to make mistakes and learn from the best. I want teachers and students to learn together, to network with professionals in all fields of study, and to gain insight to careers they never knew existed. In essence, I want our education system to develop into a system that not only encourages individual student success but success of generations as a whole.

To quote John Lennon, “You may say that I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.” To those who believe in my mission, and my “wild” dreams, we need to band together! Eventually social media will be integrated into the education system and–eventually–our education system will be updated to reflect the 21st century society we live in.

As a stated in the introduction of this post, my DVD is not the end of my senior year, Innovations project, or life in secondary education. It is only the beginning.

 

If you would like to order my DVD, you may purchase it on my website at educationmediatools.com!

Exciting News: I Am Now Taking DVD Orders!

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I would like to formally announce that my social media education DVD, “Social Networks, Educator Empowerment, and Student Success,” is now available for purchase! If you would like to purchase this DVD, please follow this link to my business’ personal website and check out the “Purchase” tab!

Here is the formal description of the DVD: “Social Networks, Educator, Empowerment, and Student Success” is split into five different segments. After watching the DVD, educators will know why social media is beneficial in the classroom and how it can be incorporated into the curriculum. Moreover, educators will have the knowledge to empower students to personalize their education and explore passions that could lead to successful careers.

You may also email me at paige.a.woodard@gmail.com if you have any questions about the DVD!

Partners in Learning Network: Microsoft in Education

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In addition to my exciting nomination for the Bammy Awards, I am currently writing blog posts for the Partners in Learning Network for Microsoft in Education. I write under the “Personalized Learning” section, which can be found here. I have written two posts thus far, “Exploration of Personal Interests and Learning How to Fail Beautifully” and “Personalized Education: It’s Not For Everyone.”

This has been such an exciting opportunity to work with other influential educators who are so passionate about the education system and truly helping their students in every step of life. Therefore, I strongly encourage you all to check out the Personalized Learning section as well as the many other topics available, as there are many insightful posts written by some awesome people!

Bammy Awards Nomination And What It Means For You

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This morning I was nominated for a Bammy Award in Student Voice by Brad Currie, an educator who I worked with in the blog post “Dean of Students Encourages Well-Rounded Social Media Gurus.” He also contributed a quote to my DVD, which will be available in the upcoming week!

As the first sentence under the tab “Eligibility and Guidelines” states, “The Bammy Awards are about celebrating the spirit of collaboration — it’s about ‘WE,’ not me.’” That being said, this is not a nomination solely for myself, but for all who are passionate about integrating social media into the classroom and share in my mission. The section continues, describing the honor it is for the community to receive an award. So, please, consider yourselves already honored. Though I have not been named the recipient of the award (is it too bold to say yet?), I want you, my audience, colleagues, and collaborators, to feel accomplished and appreciated, for without your help and passion, social media would not be on its way to its incorporation into the curriculum and students would be unaware of the power they possess in their social media profiles.

I do want to take a moment to acknowledge what an honor this means to me also, though, as this is such an amazing opportunity and wonderful privilege. Throughout my seven months enrolled in my Innovations class, I have discovered and rediscovered my passion for establishing social media usage in the classroom and its importance to the success of students’ careers. I have been called “a role model for students,” “the best example of Student Tech Leadership in the US,” and–my personal favorite–a “rockstar.” I have collaborated with unbelievably inspirational people around the country, such as Howard Rheingold, Eric Sheninger, and Vicki Davis; but more importantly, I have gathered great support from wonderful educators and other individuals who continually show me how impactful my mission is and that motivates me more than any kind word. Those who exemplify my reasons for pushing social media education and show me how my mission has impacted them is the greatest gift I could be given and that is why the Bammy Awards statement I quoted resonates with me.

My mission–and this honor–is not for self-fulfillment or self-acknowledgement. Yes, I am proud of where my mission is headed and how much I have personally grown since August 2013, but my success would be much more limited without the help of my supporters. Without your help, I would not have been nominated for such a prestigious award or have the motivation to continue spreading the word of social media education and its importance in the education system.

Repeating this blog’s title, what does this mean for you? It means your hard work and dedication to social media education is being heard! Though not each and every one of you has been nominated for the award, please consider my nomination yours as well, as we are a community. The success of my social media education and my DVD is not mine alone: I share it with all of you.

Please vote for me as the recipient of the Bammy Awards in Student Voice by going to this link. If I am chosen as the recipient, I will be invited to the awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. in September! Thank you all for this amazing opportunity and for never allowing your faith in my mission waiver! You all are truly wonderful!