The use of social media for educators to connect, learn and collaborate with each other is so powerful. But in the last six weeks I have been frustrated, discouraged and disheartened by the fact that each Saturday morning the chat I co-founded (#satchat) with Brad Currie (@bcurrie5) has been the victim of spam. This is unacceptable and a black eye on Twitter. As educators who use social media we should expect, dare I say demand, that all the social media services used to connect us will do so in a manner that provides us with what we want, professional connections with colleagues, in a safe environment and not what we are getting week after week, spam that invades and destroys the very fabric of our efforts.
This issue is bigger than our small Saturday morning educational conversation. It’s about the educational feasibility of specific social media services and how they are or are not responsive to a segment of their users. Twitter is a large and growing community that is easy to use. I loved this about it from the day I was hooked into using it. But what makes it appealing is what is making it ugly. As an educator who promotes the use of social media to my colleagues for learning inside and out of the classroom I need to reevaluate this service’s use beyond its most basic purpose.
There are alternatives like Edmodo and Google+ Communities. But why should we be chased from any one service by a small group of spammers who are using computer programs to invade trending topics? We shouldn’t have to be and it’s time for educators to take a stand. Not just about this issue but about the issues of technology and social media for educational use. We need to be part of the conversation. Technology enhancements and social media services need to engage us, explore what we need and put a focus on the teacher and the learner.
My most recent experiences on Twitter have me advocating the following:
- An educational focus by technology companies and social media services that provides a safe environment for the adults and students in education to connect, learn and collaborate with each other.
- Technology companies and social media services more aware of and responsive to the needs of the educational community. We may be a small group right now but we are growing every day.
- The creation and expansion of educational technology and social media in our classrooms. The companies and services need to know there is a place for them beyond a desktop, laptop or Smartboard. They have to know we are using it!
As disheartened as I may be with the recent events involving my #satchat conversation on Saturday mornings, I also see it as an opportunity for positive change. We can look at a bad situation and sit back and let it continue or we can step up and help to fix it in a manner that creates a better environment for all. I choose the second because I believe in educational technology and social media. Who’s with me? Who will help shape the future use of technology and social media in education? Let’s be part of the solution, not a part of the problem, and, most importantly, not a bystander as this issue gets sorted out.