Posts Tagged ‘social media’

I first heard about Sharism a few years ago.  After reading about it and taking some time to ponder a little more about it’s benefits, I did what often happens with good ideas – I forgot about it!   At the time, I put off taking decisive action to either share my thoughts here or to more actively implement its philosophy!

Then I listened to Mark Zuckerberg’s 2017 Harvard Commencement Speech a couple of weeks ago, and I remembered the notion of Sharism and could see that what Zuckerberg suggests be done on a grand scale is somewhat similar to Sharism.

So what is Sharism?

Sharism is a term for the motivation and philosophy behind the collaborative building of value that results from sharing content and ideas

or ….. in other words

The more you give, the more you get. The more you share, the more you are shared.

And what struck me was the notion of ‘building community’ which Zuckerberg noted in his speech to this year’s Harvard graduates.  Identifying the divisive nature of society segregated by race, religion and country of birth, Zuckerberg paused to question his audience to confirm the fact that millennials, connected to each other as they are by social media, are ‘citizens of the world’ who relate to each other in a deep and meaningful manner, a process which did not exist prior to the advent of social media.

Social media is a tool by which Sharism can so easily be implemented:

  • just a click shares news, thoughts and emotions around the world within seconds
  • networks of like minded people can be created
  • individuals can locate and tap into existing networks
  • individuals can be empowered enabling just one person to truly make a difference
  • sharing enables continued sharing in a speedy and powerful way

Indeed – social media is a gift that has altered our world in profound and significant ways.


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Last week my husband and I went for a coffee at one of our favourite spots in outer suburban Melbourne.

Getting out of the car, we could hear someone shouting.  It didn’t take long to realize that the young guy, looking slightly disheveled and ‘out of it’ who was standing on the corner was the one shouting a string of abusive rants at another more ‘cleanly’ dressed guy who was hastily retreating from the scene.  Fortunately, nothing ‘ugly’ transpired, but the incident of just a few short seconds left me rattled, pensive and concerned.  It’s a question I found myself asking earlier this year following a similarly unexpected incident when I blogged Are we failing those we teach?

Reinforced by daily news reports of violent, antisocial behaviour involving theft, assault, abuse and even murder by young perpetrators, one can’t help feeling frightened, anxious and nervous about the ramifications of young people who know no limits on their behaviour and it’s impact on society.

Then, last week, I read the horrific account of the sexual abuse endured by a 16 year old boy at the hands of his classmates.  Hoping that the revelation of his story, 30 years after it occurred, may prevent other children from being hurt, this brave 46 year old stated that

Silence is the perpetrator’s greatest weapon”

A shiver coursed through me as I reflected on the damage that may have been perpetrated on students long before ‘mandatory reporting’ by those of us working in schools became compulsory by law.

Such disturbing thoughts were compounded last week when I read the recently published Young Adult (YA) novel Saving Jazz by Kate McCaffrey.

Over the years, I’ve had lengthy discussions with teaching colleagues – teacher librarians, librarians and general teaching staff in secondary schools – as well as school psychologists and social workers about the inclusion or exclusion of novels in school libraries written for the YA market on a range of tough themes: rape, incest, anorexia, pyromania, drugs, abortion, suicide and more.    The argument of whether to include books of this nature in school library collections vacillates between exposing or hiding from teens influential ideas that may encourage them to ‘experiment’.

Following my read of McCaffrey’s latest book though, my belief is reinforced that well written novels which clearly present a social issue and then guide teens on appropriate ways of responding to deviant behaviour most definitely belong in our school libraries.  While confronting, well written literature offers students a safe place to learn and explore real life issues.

It is also my strong belief that it is incumbent on teaching and ancillary staff working with teenagers to read these kind of novels so as to develop a real awareness and an understanding of the impact of changed social dynamics that dominate the lives of today’s teens.

I hope that this short review of Saving Jazz will inspire many educators to dip into the real world of teenagers so as to learn, explore and understand the real life issues facing today’s secondary school students both in and out of the classroom.

Saving Jazz – Kate McCaffrey

saving-jazzA hard hitting ‘in-your-face’ novel about cyberbullying.  When Allison is found floating in the bath by her mother, the story of what and why is revealed by a series of blog posts written by her friend Jazz.  As the ugly truth about events that occurred is revealed, the reader develops an increased appreciation of the grave ramifications that can result from posting on social media.  A well written novel, which presents a clear, well defined message through the voice of Jazz and at its end is quite uplifting.  Despite the mature age theme, this novel is highly recommended.

Rating:  *****
Theme Fiction:  Social Issues
Suitability:  Year 10-12+


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Common Sense MediaI recently came across the Common Sense Media website and discovered all kinds of valuable info which can easily be slotted into lessons or displayed in a library on a loop to promote cyber awareness.

While there’s a wealth of valuable information to explore on this site, these two short and sharp videos speak volumes.  There quick and colourful format will ensure that their message is absorbed by young students.

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Being mindful of what we post on Facebook goes without saying.

Aunty Acid - Think before you post

Being familiar with the ins and outs of using Facebook and its various settings is, however, something that many of us know little about.

So when I logged into Facebook the other day, I was blown away to see an invitation to better learn how to use Facebook.   The teacher in me shot to attention as I quickly started paging through the simple, clear statements listed in this presentation and realized that this would make a great learning tool that could be used in the classroom or in our library sessions.

You're in charge

It’s an awesome presentation and reminds me that for all of us our learning journey is indeed never ending!

And with this discovery, another year draws to an end.  Desks have been cleared, bags laden with books to read have been packed and we head out the door at this end of the world for our summer break in which we aim to pause, reflect and re-charge our batteries before the start of the next busy year.

Warm greetings to you all for a safe, happy and rest filled break.

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Social Media is a powerful force.

Connecting with each other across the globe to share, communicate and learn from each other has become commonplace. Without a doubt, traditional professional learning is being turned on its head as teachers and educators embrace Social Media as a learning tool.

But does Social Media hold the same valued position in our classrooms? Are educators taking steps to incorporate Social Media into their day to day teaching programs? Or are we hesitating, holding back, still languishing in a belief that Social Media is just a means for our young to chat and meet up with each other in cyberspace? Is there any solid reason to not harness the power of Social Media in our classrooms? Has fear mongering about the dangers of teacher-student relationships sullied our nerve to give it a go and use this powerful tool to harness learning and sharing among our youth?

Mention of Social Media in our schools often revolves around cyberbullying though. While I don’t question the importance and necessity of teaching our students the importance of engaging in responsible use, there is so much more that can be garnered from opening the door to Social Media in our classrooms.

Given that our students are using Social Media so widely and so regularly in their own time, it seems almost logical to integrate its use into our classroom teaching. With established guidelines and boundaries, online programs in which students can connect, learn and share with other students across the world via Social Media can be created.

Educators have long used the pervasive influence of peer pressure as a way of ensuring group acceptance and involvement in a range of educational programs.   Competitions, often used as a way of gaining widespread student involvement in a range of different school based activities, is perhaps one of the most obvious ways educators have harnessed peer pressure. Undeniably peer pressure is one of the driving forces behind the incredible uptake of Social Media by our youth. So let’s make the most of it and create meaningful and enjoyable learning programs in our schools.

Why not place students at the centre of teaching programs, enabling them to recognize the value and importance each and every one of them has to contribute to our world. Looking at positive programs such as The YOU MATTER Manifesto outlined by Angela Maiers – @AngelaMaiers – is well worth consideration as we define our aims and objectives then develop and deliver programs which incorporate Social Media into our classroom programs enabling students to build their positive digital footprint.

The YOU MATTER Manifesto

Educators need to think laterally to envision projects and group activities based on the use of Social Media. Knowing that the ownership of ideas is extremely powerful, why not have students initiate projects and group activities based on the use of Social Media?

For too long educators have been rejecting the use of Social Media in schools as irrelevant.  In some schools, the use of Social Media is banned and smartphones are confiscated.  What kind of message does this send to vulnerable students?  Surely, as a society, we have learned that prohibition only pushes use underground.  Learning, in an educational setting, responsible use of something prohibited, banned or forbidden is not possible.

It’s time for educators to lift their heads out of the sand, to acknowledge that there has been a cosmic shift in the way thoughts, ideas and experiences are shared.  Rather than shying away from using Social Media in our schools, we need to harness its power.  Acknowledge the excessive use of Social Media by our youth, highlight all that is good about it and incorporate it into our teaching so that ‘teachable moments’ about the positive ways that Social Media can be used can be created.

Embracing the skills of the students we teach, having them become our teachers, is a recipe for a new era of education – one in which each and every one of them MATTER!

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I came across this image a while ago.  It says it all:  It’s a ME world alright!

Social MEdia

With so many ways to communicate and share, I sometimes feel that the means overtakes the ‘me’.  Hours and hours of our time are whittled away as we share the minuet of our daily lives in an online world which is burgeoning with an ever increasing range of social networking websites.

Sometimes it’s hard to remember how life was BSM – Before Social Media!

It has crept up on us.
It eats up our time.
It dominates our lives.
It has impacted society.

An insatiable need to share and know what others are doing, thinking and feeling has evolved to incredible proportions.  Social Media today seeps into every aspect of our lives and is not something that can be ignored.   This new and powerful way of connecting, sharing and communicating is greater than many of us could have ever imagined.

It is inevitable that both positive and negative outcomes should derive from Social Media.

Bullying has transformed into cyberbullying.  Programs to combat cyberbullying have spawned social intelligence curricula which are taking on increasing importance in the daily teaching agenda.

But a new and ugly impact of Social Media is dawning on educators.  As we confront the reality of how easily our students can be encouraged, influenced, coerced, brainwashed or radicalized by another is a frightening reality which educators need to assess, consider and unitedly tackle.

Knowing how best to combat the powerful influence of dogma was never part of a teacher’s lot.  It is now though.

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It’s back to school at this end of the world, so it’s a good time to be thinking about what it is we are trying to achieve in our school libraries or perhaps query whether in fact we have been achieving that which we really want to achieve!

For those of us on the ‘teaching’ side of the education fence, we grew up with hard copy reference materials which, in their day, were invaluable.

For some teachers, the shift to a digital world is difficult.  The constant need to adapt and change how we do what we’ve always done can be challenging, frustrating and daunting.   But to retain our relevancy, change is essential. While keeping an open mind, being ready to take a risk and experimenting to develop new teaching routines can be time consuming, ultimately it is very rewarding.  Accepting that we are able to learn from those we teach, creates a very different education model which can be challenging to both teachers and students.

It is a reality that our students will be returning to our schools from a holiday filled with constant texting and connectivity in an online environment in which social media predominates.  The ire directed at this constant pass time of our young can be heard loud and clear.  I find myself question though …..

Is social media really all that bad?
Sometimes it is the jolt received by the thinking and writing of others which leads us onto new paths of awareness.  A recent read of an article by Daniel Maxwell published in Asian Correspondent: Gen Y, social media & critical thinking: Developing skills schools neglect reinforced thoughts I’ve previously expressed on this blog:
Today’s high school students, Generation Y, are the first generation to grow up in a world where smartphones and the internet are as commonplace as colour TVs and refrigerators. They inhabit a world very different to the one that previous generations grew up in. Furthermore, the skills young people need to navigate and succeed in this environment have also changed. The development of higher level thinking skills is becoming increasingly essential for 21st century learners.”
Voicing concern that schools of the 21st Century may not be meeting the needs of today’s students, Maxwell highlights a glaring reality that for the most part is being quietly ignored in our schools: students are independently engaging outside the classroom in complex skills which utilize higher level thinking skills.  Using social media, predominantly on their smartphones, our students are
  • rapidly processing and responding to instant messages
  • quickly and creatively recording, editing and publishing photos, videos, blogs, songs and artwork
  • questioning and challenging social issues, sharing opinions, rallying support and mobilizing demonstrators in ways that were unfathomable prior to the digital age

Perhaps, as Maxwell suggests, it’s time to stop worrying about the amount of time our students spend using their smartphones and to instead look at what it is they are doing with their smartphones.   Learning from and with our students will be far more productive than forcing them to conform with an educational model which has long been outdated.  Changing how we do what we’ve always done is not easy.  Considering how others are tackling the evolution of teaching and learning can be inspiring.

A good starting point could be a read of The 21st century classroom – where the 3 R’s meet the 4 C’s! in which lots of practical ideas are suggested.

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