I am a schoolteacher in Mumbai. While surfing for career tips, I read one of your columns in DT Next and from then on, started reading your columns regularly online. I am so disturbed by students spending a lot of time on social media. Can you guide me how we could use social media for teaching the students? (Antonette Jesumani)
Today the teachers face many challenges, way different from what it used to be a decade ago. Every facet of life has gone through drastic changes rapidly.
The digital revolution does not have a single face, but an array: broadband, wireless, applications, the cloud, big data and several others. One of the most intoxicating aspects of this revolution is the emergence of the social media.
The social media revolution has taken the students way ahead of teachers not only in language, but also in all fields of knowledge and has become a critical component of learning. But unfortunately, today’s teachers are lagging in understanding the social media. It is not merely the use of the social media that makes one social media literate. It revolves around internet safety, policies, pedagogical principles and above all, responsible use of social media.
There is no doubt that survival in today’s society demands skill sets entirely different from a few years ago. Hence, it is incumbent upon teachers to adapt to the internet landscape. In the process, teachers would discover that social media has the potential to transform the pedagogical structure of the classroom.
The social media challenges traditional teaching models. It allows both communication and collaboration. Anyone and everyone can become a teacher, preacher, guide and even a publisher, because it provides a ready audience. It is a medium that is open and transparent, built from the bottom up. Therefore, the traditional classroom model should adopt a reversal of hierarchy, wherein students are accommodated as a knowledge society rather than as mere learners.
On the one hand, the internet offers endless creative possibilities for children, but regrettably, no such system exists. On the other, pupils of today are digital natives. They can construct their own personal learning networks. Therefore, how many teachers would think of mobile filmmaking? Young students make so many videos on their smart phones. Why not encourage them to make a subject-related video to share in their class with other students?
On the professional front, schools need to provide teachers with opportunities to grow and develop professionally. It is imperative that the school develop enlightened policies for the use of social media that encourage teachers to use social media for their own professional development. There is a group created by teachers for ‘Social Media in Learning and Education (SMILE).
On the personal front, the ten competencies that need to be developed are:
* Organising student learning opportunities
* Managing student learning progress
* Dealing with increasing student heterogeneity
* Developing students’ commitment to studying amid distractions
* Encouraging students to work in teams
* Promoting parent and community commitment
* Updating and learning new technologies
* Introduce them to tackling professional duties and ethical and moral dilemmas
* Managing their talents and professional developments
* Finally, and most importantly, teachers should strive to be the best learners in order to be best teachers
Progressive teachers should not shy away from the social media, no matter where and in what form it appears. The social media should be treated as an expressway in learning and as personality development equally, for teachers and students.
— The writer is a career counsellor and mentor