This post is a series of blogs contributed by SMW NYC media partner Differences Magazine. To learn more about Differences Magazine and to see the original post by Jessica Bender, please click here. You can watch the original SMW12 presentation on livestream.
Teens are craving new ways of learning. With the average student sending 50 texts and watching five hours of YouTube per day, along with spending 31 hours a week on the Internet, more likely than not they’re going to get absorbed into what’s on a screen rather than what’s in a book.
Fortunately teachers and professors on most education levels are listening for new teaching methods and switching up their curriculum to cater to their kids’ new needs. Education experts at the dual panel/discussion The Future of Higher Education: Will Colleges Survive? and The Classroom of the Future: How Social Media Can Better Our Education System at Thomson Reuters dove head first into innovative new ways to engage students from middle school to graduate programs.
Eighth grade teacher/blogger Melissa Seideman is the model example of a socially savvy and tech friendly teacher pushing to make social media classroom-friendly. While most educators would have a problem with texting, Seideman encourages it; she says that it’s a perfect way to send out announcements and homework, and allows students to ask questions if they’re mute in class. Blogging is also a major part of her class structure, as it allows students to take ownership of their learning. The most surprising method of teaching she uses in the classroom, though, is Tweeting. With software like My Big Campus, her classes can have a dialogue while chatting about content in the classroom in 140 characters or less.
By the time you get started on your undergrad and graduate degrees, 2tor co-founders John Katzman and Jeremy Johnson think it’s vital for universities to focus on strengthening their online programs. With a huge majority of students interested in taking a semester online to accomplish other goals like studying abroad or interning, Katzman says that the goal of undergrad programs is to “make education more efficient”. It’s not effective if you throw in an online program just to have one, though. Katzman adds, “If you don’t think you can give a program as good online as in the classroom, why do it? If you can’t do it well, you shouldn’t.”
More than anything, though, all the panelists agreed that social media is essential for the education system because it builds a sense of community and collaboration. “In order to get a higher quality education, you need to interact and engage in conversation,” Johnson said. “It’s important to build a network of peers to help you after the education is done, so the college experience [is about] integrating yourself in society.”
Seideman stresses that “classrooms can be a media-rich environment.” If you give students the tools they need to be 21st century learners while having them connect with material using videos, music and social media, “students [will] be excited about going to class.”