Social Media Tools for Educational Advocacy?

I have been thinking about the power of social media tools and the conversations we have been having in our eci831 class around the integration of technology into the classroom.  We have had general conversation around the idea that educators seem to be more willing to accept and experiment with tech tools in the classroom if they already have a comfort level or familiarity with them on a personal level. 

In reading an article titled “Social Media in Education:  The Power of Facebook” by Heather Wolpert-Gawron, a teacher and new mother discusses the fact that she initially became acquainted with Facebook as a way to connect with friends and other moms when she was lacking a social life due to the busyness of being a new mom.   Once she became familiar with Facebook as a social media tool, she began digging a little deeper and soon discovered it is also a wonderful place for professional growth.  Furthermore, she views social media tools as being extremely effective in creating a voice and putting relevant educational issues at the forefront.  She shares examples of a Buffelgrass Facebook Page in which students learned about the harmful weed and decided to create a Facebook Page to educate the public about the problems with it.  The students even created their own video about the weed and posted it on YouTube. 

Wolpert-Gawron blogs about a “Teachers’ Letters to Obama” campaign in which educators used social media tools such as survey monkey, ning, elluminate sessions, etc. to collaborate and have their voices heard in relation to the design of government policies which would impact the field of education.

In our eci831 class we are experiencing the possibilities made possible by social media tools in communicating, collaborating, and reflecting.  In my additional readings, I am seeing potential for social media tools to be used as a tool to becoming an engaged citizen who can responsibly take a stance on pertinent educational or personal issues.  On a personal level, I am considering setting up a blog for our local group of concerned parents who have been trying desparetely to have a daycare established in our small rural community.  We applied to our provincial government for a grant for the establishment of a licensed daycare in our hometown but were denied funding due to the fact that provincial funds are limited.  Currently, there is no daycare available in our community which makes it extremely difficult to secure child care when needed.  I value my work, but every day is a struggle in relation to finding child care.  My story is unique to myself and my family, but there are many similar stories surrounding the need for qualified, reliable daycare within my local community.  I am thinking if a number of us could come together on a blog or using some other form of social media tool, maybe the powers at be would hear our collective voice.    

Wolpert-Gawron suggests we , “…have the power to change our small and greater worlds by using social networking to get our voices heard.   The power of social networking can at times be unforeseen, but it is clearly a tool for advocacy at every level in education.”  and, in my opinion, society.

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~ by lewisv on November 13, 2010.

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