Social Media

Reflecting on Social Media in the Classroom:

As a possible topic for Assignment 1 and a basis for my artefact I am considering promoting Social Media. The work of Rheingold and his Attention, and Other 21st-Century Social Media Literacies (Rheingold, 2010), which contrasts effectively with Reclaiming the Students – Coping With Social Media in 1:1 Schools (Andersson, Hatakka, Gronlund, & Wiklund, 2014) is providing much food for thought.

In many ways the classroom can be seen as a marketplace, with multiple seductive attractions from the online world competing with physical presence, and the issue of teacher-managed circumstances is certainly critical, as Andersson et al discovered in their interpretive research based on content analysis obtained via surveys and interviews (Andersson, Hatakka, Gronlund, & Wiklund, 2014, p. 40). In their findings 42% of students and 74% of teachers indicated that social media (particularly Facebook) were a distractor requiring management (Andersson, Hatakka, Gronlund, & Wiklund, 2014, p. 42). Management ranged from the punitive removal of devices to suggestions for self-management (Andersson, Hatakka, Gronlund, & Wiklund, 2014, pp. 45-46).

Rheingold’s first focus: attention, reinforces this issue but examines it from a more positive perspective. He begins by highlighting the issue of Attention: affected by multitasking, or “continuous partial attention” or attention-splitting, or “hyper attention” (Rheingold, 2010).  Wirelessly-webbed, always-on media presents a constant smorgasbord of options with which students can be distracted, in the same way many of their teachers may also be lured off task or topic (Rheingold, 2010). Rheingold’s solution is to model and promote focused attention when necessary, additionally acknowledging that there are times when it is truly beneficial to task-switch (Rheingold, 2010).

We are currently teaching the first generation of young adults who have been raised with connective media devices since an early age, whose parents are also learning the concepts and parameters of such connectivity. Social mores for mobile phones in public spaces are still evolving and protocols for social media in public versus private settings are also in an emergent stage. This adds a degree of urgency to the debate about using such media as teaching tools and resources, which are now so much a part of the world beyond school, including work.

Participation is the next aspect Rheingold addresses. While acknowledging the amount of facile blogging and tweeting he also promotes the value of online participation in social media: “When you participate, you become an active citizen rather than simply a passive consumer of what is sold to you, what is taught to you, and what your government wants you to believe. Simply participating is a start” (Rheingold, 2010).

Inherent in teaching students to participate is the need to define the rhetorics of participation, to ensure that there will be sufficient numbers of well-educated citizens who are proficient at accessing and interpreting information allowing productive communication of their opinions in concert with other citizens – a literacy of participation (Rheingold, 2010). 

The next discussion revolves around Collaboration. It is important to note the distinction between collaboration, and collective action, something educators find difficult to construct lessons to really address. The 21st Century Literacy project defines Collaboration as one of five fluencies that today’s students need to master. Microsoft have developed an app which enables teachers to assess the degree to which a planned task is truly collaborative and not just “group work” (Moffitt, n.d). Collaboration offers educators a very powerful tool with which to engage students in some real world learning from experts beyond the classroom walls.

Moffitt's Microsoft app for Windows 8
Moffitt’s Microsoft app for Windows 8

Network Awareness

Online social networks are a relatively recent addition to something which has always been an essential part of being human,. No longer do teachers have the physical limitations on which people and how many people we could include in an educational network.

David P. Reed , cited by Rheingold, noted that there are at least three kinds of value that networks can provide:

  1. the linear value of services that are aimed at individual users,
  2. the ‘square’ value from facilitating transactions,
  3. and the exponential value for facilitating group affiliations(Rheingold, 2010).

It is the third value that offers the greatest learning opportunities for educating students to appreciate the notions and nuances of reputation and diffuse reciprocity, which are increasingly important online (Rheingold, 2010).

On her blog post about back-channeling in the classroom, Edna Sackson refers to the case of teacher Silvia, who is introducing Today’s Meet to her class as being their own chat room; once the lesson has progressed she “switches to the ‘front channel’ to discuss what’s going on in the back channel” (Sackson, 2015).  Teachable moments arise when students post inappropriately, which Silvia happily seizes ion by educating her students about audience and purpose. (Sackson, 2015).

Critical consumption

“Critical consumption, or what Ernest Hemingway called “crap detection,” is the literacy of trying to figure out what and who is trustworthy—and what and who is not trustworthy—online” (Rheingold, 2010). The critical need is for education in assessing validity, accuracy and authority. Collecting and curating information is another vital tool that must be modelled and incorporated.

Darren Draper, with some sadness, comments in relation to the much touted technological education adoption model SAMR the “In SAMR-ry,5 I think many of us in education are frustratingly stuck in Gartner’s trough of disillusionment, trying to understand why million dollar purchases are only being used as textbook and bubble sheet alternatives (SAMR’s beloved S!) (Draper, 2014) “.  Many educators await the day when research catches up with vision, and greater enlightenment more fully translates into more meaningful transformation of classrooms into spaces that are opened up by access to devices for enhancing learning activities with meaningful connectivity well beyond the local community (Draper, 2014).


Andersson, A., Hatakka, M., Gronlund, A., & Wiklund, M. (2014). Reclaiming the Students – Coping With Social Media in 1:1 Schools. Learning, Media and Technology, 39(1), 37-52. doi:10.1080/17439884.2012.756518

Crockett, L., Jukes, I., & Churches, A. (2011). Literacy is Not Enough, 21st-Century Fluencies for the Digital Age. Corwin.

Draper, D. E. (2014, February 22). That Time When SAMR Gets Us Into Trouble. Retrieved March 21, 2015, from Drape’s Takes : Openness, Education; Technology:

Moffitt, L. (n.d.). 21st Century Learning Design App. Retrieved from

Rheingold, H. (2010, October 7). Attention, and Other 21st-Century Social Media Literacies. Retrieved March 21, 2015, from Educause:

Sackson, E. (2015, March 14). Back-channelling in the Classroom. Retrieved March 21, 2015, from What Ed Said:


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