I spent yesterday afternoon at a development session on the use of social media in teaching. The buzz was that this was a good thing, that it had a fit with the learning and teaching strategy at my institution and that we would want to promote its use.
It will come as no surprises to readers of this blog that I and my co authors are huge fans of social media and it’s potential as a platform for learning, teaching and practice in all forms of health and social care. However yesterday’s session made me think about some of the preconceptions associated with the medium.
There was a presumption at the session that I was at that young people were digital natives, meaning that they had grown up with social media and were completely familiar with all of its applications. Like many assumptions this is only partly the case. Some, if not many of our younger students are digital natives and some if not many use social media and are completely familiar with it. The difficulty with this is that in my experience few of them are familiar with using social media for educational purposes. Social media is not widely used as an educational too in schools so their status may best be described as digital social natives. Encouraging students to see the potential for social media as a viable learning tool can be something of a challenge.
For some other students social media is seen as frivolous, as the domain of the young and not in any way relevant to them, their social experiences and networks do not value it and it is seen as lacking the integrity of more traditional learning tools.
While the recognition of social media as a valuable addition to the learning cannon is intrinsically understood by some there requires to be a more careful consideration of the attitudes of students toward the medium. Equally for educationalists it is important that we are considered in our deployment of social media in the various learning environments we inhabit.
I suppose that my desire is to see social media takes its place in learning and teaching
and to be given respect as an innovative and under used tool however in order for this to happen we need to continue to encourage a more sophisticated debate around the issues that exist

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