It is near impossible to escape the siren call of social media today. As a teacher, an instructional technologist, a parent of 6 and 8 year olds and a citizen of the world today, I am driven daily to simultaneously connect and disconnect, jump in and pull back, assess and accept. How well do I do all this? Who the F***book knows!

How well do I do all this? Who the F***book knows!

There are certainly scores kept via likes, retweets, and follows, but I’d like to measure via impact. I have learned a ton from social media and I’ve connected with amazing educators and talented professionals around the world. I’ve published my own thoughts and been inspired by others.

Now, recent news of how algorithms influence and impact of social media feeds should come as no surprise. Part of the reason I feel educators and parents need to be present on social media is to both meet young people where they are and help them negotiate the temptations, truths and untruths inherent in the media. Additionally there is the all-too-real issue of silos and echo chambers. On top of all this, civil discourse and general decency are at risk when we allow impulse to overtake insight. We need to be aware of what this means for adults and younger learners.

How do you use social media? Leading edge? Bleeding edge? Lurking? Leery? There is no right answer. Thoughtful use within a framework to both use a platform–any platform–and assess future offerings is my goal. What’s yours?

How do you use social media? Leading edge? Bleeding edge? Lurking? Leery?

What if we had our students work through an exercise similar to mine? What would they discover? What would we learn? Give it a try with this template. Include Tumblr, Vine, WhatsApp and other social networks that I still need to explore. [In the time since I originally posted this piece, Instagram has added Snapchat-like stories and Facebook has launched Lifestage.] Now, where do social-ish tools like YouTube, SoundCloud and Vimeo fit? I’ve used all three a ton, but they didn’t seem to fit my parameters here. Maybe they could. Here we are on WordPress, which is highly social, however I wouldn’t characterize it as a social media site. Perhaps my thinking needs to shift. This could be the most useful part of the exercise: to see where we direct ourselves and why and what the sum effect is. What are the trends? How many overlapping circles are there? Should usage be spread out or specialized? Where and how to professional and/or academic uses show up?

I’ll keep exploring and asking questions. Some of these platforms will endure while others may go the way of MySpace, however the concepts and constructions are here to say. The sooner we as educators develop ways to integrate, evaluate and if necessary, discard/discredit these platforms knowingly, the better decisions we can make.


Social Media Use 2