Guest Post by Reynaldo Macías (@ReynaldoMacias)
“Social Media” conjures up a variety of thoughts and images: kids hunched over their smartphones in groups, not speaking to each other but laughing about the text they are sharing; teenagers or college students snapping pictures of each other, posed and unposed, and uploading them to Facebook for consumption by that website’s “more than 800 million active users”; people wasting time in front of screens, mobile and desktop, instead of talking to each other or appreciating nature and athletics. All of these pictures portray a negative, narcissistic environment doomed to collapse under the weight of it’s own self-indulgence. But what if they’re wrong?
Mobile computing, social media, smartphones and iPads are toys that adults are turning into tools (or tools masquerading as toys) that have the power to transform education as we know it. Latinos are already the largest ethnic group of users on Twitter and Facebook. Rather than fear this fact, muttering to ourselves in Spanglish about how children are spending too much time playing on their phones, we need to encourage them to put those tools to work, creating a revolution inside the classroom, inside the schools in this country, inside our minds to empower our children.
The power of social media played out earlier this week when thousands of people, Latinos and others, logged in to Ustream to participate in a town hall on the state of education in the Hispanic community with US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. What was notable was the immediate access and interaction granted the citizens of the United States via Twitter, allowing real time interaction with the man responsible for shepherding education policy in the United States. We got to ask questions, from the philosophical to the financial, and get some answers.
It will play out again when Senator Tom Udall and LATISM host another town hall later today, and when people from across the country gather in Chicago next month for the LATISM National Conference. Imagine if we shared that power to learn and interact with our students.
Teachers are already finding that student success is increasing using technology and social media across the country. It simply takes a shift in thinking to understand that what our kids are using for fun can be used to teach them both the content and skills, that the same apps and sites they’re using to KIT (keep in touch) can be used to create songs, films, podcasts that speak to who they are and share their gifts and talents with a larger world.
In doing this, using new technology and social media to interact with their own education, they will learn that the power to transform the world rests in their hands; the tools they need to impact their school, their neighborhood, their city, their state, their country can be used inside the classroom as well as with their homies.
And there is definitely an app for that.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Reynaldo A. Macías teaches history, politics, citizenship, technology and public speaking in Southern California. In his spare time, he writes political analysis and commentary focusing on the recovery of the United States, and the continuing struggle of the American populace to reconcile the present circumstance with the ideals envisioned and codified by the founding documents of the United States on his blog. A graduate of both the University of California, Los Angeles and Brown University, Reynaldo has been an educator and published author for the last fifteen years. When not writing lesson plans or peeling back the layers of modern patriotism, Reynaldo also prides himself an amateur photographer and aspiring novelist.