4ALL: Social Media for 21st Century Learners

My wife, who is an English and Women’s Studies professor at the University of Missouri, shared a story with me this morning. She often has former students come back and speak with her class, usually via Skype. The insights they reveal are often helpful for her students to see the context for the information and processes they are learning in her course.

The other day, one of my wife’s star students spoke to the class. This particular student was best remembered for earning the honor of introducing then-candidate Barack Obama at a large rally just days before the 2008 election. She then moved on to intern for the first lady and now works for a reputable non-profit in D.C.

Here message to the students was realizing how important using social media would be in her future endeavors after college. While working for Ms. Obama, the student received one of her first assignments to create a video to post online. Luckily, she learned to do this in my wife’s class and the skills transferred over. In her current position, she has to coordinate messages to lobbyists and legislative staff. She utilizes Twitter to do most of this communication, citing the importance of an effective message in 140 characters.

With the word that Mubarak is stepping down due to a protest originally organized on Twitter, it is easy to see the power that these tools possess. Sure, lots of people use social media in pretty mundane ways, but that’s where we as educators come in. We can demonstrate this power and how effective communication can lead to change.

As Social Media Week winds down, think about how you can prepare our students for a future where social media is the effective and powerful tool we see all around us.

Zac Early is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center.