Is Social Media Education the Next New Curriculum?

Two of my 11 grandchildren – Brendan and DeAnthony – attended the International Center’s Model Schools Conference this year in Orlando, June 26-29. It was quite the experience!

Question: DeAnthony, what did your grandfather do at the conference?
Answer: Grandpa stood up on stage and told people what to do.

Hmm. Maybe some of you who attended also felt the same way! Both boys, like most of their peers, are what we at the International Center call “digital natives.” They are immersed in, and comfortable with, virtually all forms of social media. At one particular session – in part a discussion on digital tracking – I noticed DeAnthony begin to fidget in the front row. He covered his face. He sighed. “De,” as we call him, was not a happy camper! He started to calm down as the session wound down, but something had shaken him.  “De, what was wrong?” I asked as the audience filed out. “Grandpa, I was afraid you were going to tell them about some of the apps I use.”

Bill with his grandsons Brendan and
DeAnthony (photo by Todd Daggett)

Welcome to Data Mining
Soon – much sooner than we think – we will be able to uncover all sorts of data. Apps are already available to capture information on just about anyone.

As I said in my last blog post, corporations and colleges already are creating social media review departments. Why? To vet potential employees and students.

Think about what this means for some of our students. Might they not get into the college of their choice? Might they be rejected for a good job before even getting a chance to interview?
What about us? Imagine irritating a parent, student or colleague, who in turn decides to check you out. What websites do you visit? What have you “Googled?” What e-mails have to written in the last month, and to whom?

Are you squirming yet? What you share on the Internet stays there forever.

A New World Calls for a New Curriculum
Are we preparing our students for this world? Are we educating them about the permanence and the risks on the Internet? Are they digitally literate? Are we teaching them to use technology wisely and effectively?
We all know the answer to those questions, don’t we?

 While working at the New York State Department of Education back in the 1980s, I helped introduce drug prevention and sex education programs into schools. It was a tough, bruising battle.

Today, social media education may be the new battleground.
What will be the curriculum? Who will develop it? Who will teach it?  

I don’t have all the answers. All I know is that we, as educational leaders, must get on top of this issue in a hurry.

As I mentioned in my last blog, at our Leadership Academy in October we’ll be focusing on teaching and learning in the digital age. It has never been more critical to understand and teach digital literacy, responsibility and consequences. I hope you can join us in San Diego.
            


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