There are certain social protocols that we naturally adopt, such as body language, eye contact, personal space and appropriate conversation. I am the shy and retiring type and I think I am only now getting comfortable in a wide variety of social situations. But I think I am again experiencing that adolescent anxiety with digital social etiquette. I don’t have a huge online social life. I don’t blog, apart from this, which is work related, I have a facebook profile, with only six friends and one of them is Kristen! I use MSN Messenger, mainly to communicate with my teenage son and follow his band on MySpace. And I use the Innovative Teachers Network extensively, as you would expect.
Recently, my use of Twitter has highlighted my lack of digital social confidence. For those of you who do not know Twitter, it is a micro blog, where posts called ‘Tweets’ can only be 140 characters long. You can follow other users and they can follow you. Basically, you blog about ‘What are you doing?’ I recently met up with a group of Social Media Evangelists (is there a collective noun for such a group?) in Cardiff, at an event organised by a user of Twitter. It was here that I began to feel digitally socially inept. I now feel I have an obligation to my Twitter followers to keep them updated with interesting comments and ideas. I am trying my best, but is it good enough? Should I worry? And should I also be thinking about Digg, Deli.icous, Diigo, Bebo, Ning, Flickr, YouTube, Teacherstube and even the Innovative Schools Network as additional online forums?
This is only my limited — and slightly sad — experience. I can’t imagine how schools are approaching the use social media to support learners. My own experience in schools is that these technologies have been banned, to the point where they are often seen as damaging.
But I think the tide may be turning. Two great examples of the use of social media in the classroom are: A Virtual Classroom Tour by Clare Satchwell, called Learning Live, that describes how she is using MSN Messenger with her students to support them with their coursework. And I have met the guys from Mediasnackers, a company based in here Wales , who work with youth focussed organisations, including schools, developing ideas of how utilise social networks. Their site is wealth of information about social media and is well worth a look.
We would love to hear from any of you who are successfully utilising social media to support learners and learning. Perhaps we could set a group on the Innovative Teachers Network or other social networks to share the best ideas. For the moment, at least, I am off to find the Web 2.0 equivalent of a monastic retreat. I need some ‘me’ time; all this socialising is just too much.
You can follow my dabbling with social media at www.twitter.com/innovativeteach