Thursday, October 30, 2008

Social Media and Education: The Conflict Between Technology and Institutional Education, and the Future

Thursday, October 30 8:10 a.m. - 9:00 a.m.
Featured Speaker: Social Media and Education: The Conflict Between
Technology and Institutional Education, and the Future
West Hall WF5

* Sarah Robbins-Bell, PhD Candidate, Ball State University

Today's technology enables users to form and join communities of common
interest to learn and share information. In opposition to the privileged
learning spaces of higher education, social media encourage learners to
seek out their own answers and construct knowledge as a community rather
than as individuals. Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, and Second Life offer new
learning spaces, but how do they fit into the learning expectations of
Schools and Social Media all offer:
  • Self expression
  • Sharing enthusiasm for common interests - self-organized communities
  • Access to experts and personalities
  • Enhancing person and professional reputation (school- the rep of the college. The online world- your portfolio in social media
  • Build and share skills - "You suck at photoshop"
Social Media changes
  • who we can reach
  • how many people we can reach - we used to have to go through a school to meet mentors
  • our methods of expression
"All communication is educational."
Dialogic communication allows for more community, exchange of ideas.
Social media technologies allow everyone in class to have a voign
Social media creates new ways to learn without the communities and structures created by institutions. Self-motivated people with some critical literacy can replace the kind of learning that institutions provide.

What is the educators role in a world where production and consumption of information is now:
  • Democratic
  • Amateur
  • Distributed - information is crowd-sourced
How do institutions embrace the change?
  • Educators are no longer the Gatekeepers of knowledge (this is the value of ins
  • The role of educators is changing
We need to teach students
  • how to learn in an information economy (Henry Jenkins)
  • the importance of contributing to a community (Mike Wesch's webpage)
  • how to relate as more experienced co-creators rather than employers
  • we need to serve as guides as students shape their paths
In a world of social media, educators are more important than ever. We need to create an environment of participation and community.

She told an IT person that they need to be the people that create faculty self-support structures to support the new ways of learning. She said that she does not believe in "digital natives" but students today have a voice in all arenas of their live except school. Give students ways to collaborate better.

An audience member pointed out the irony that she is talking about independent learners and self-direction, yet she is getting a Phd from the very institutions that dole out the status quo. Another asked about the "campus commons that we all grew up with" - Ha! some students worked full-time while going to school. We are really talking about privilege. Another audience member talked about her film class that used expensive film stock instead of digital - again it is a class of students that - many would perfer the opportunity to just express themselves .

Notes: I have always thought that online learning and alternative education are revolutionary. Schools are a privileged silo, a barrier to learning for those without the social background or money to succeed in the academic world.