Relationships are the key foundation to the success of students in our schools. The more we connect with them, the more likely they are to succeed. This is not only true with our students, but also essential with our staff. If we know those we serve, the more likely we are to all be successful.
This is why it is frustrating when there is talk that the use of technology and social media sites actually disconnects our students, when in my own experience, I have found the opposite. The more I have connected through our staff and student blogs, the more I have learned about them and what is happening in the classroom. After reading Stephen Johnson’s, Everything Bad is Good For You, I was comforted that I was not alone in the belief.
Johnson discusses that most of the technology that has impacted our current time, has been social in nature:
“In fact, nearly all of the most hyped developments on the Web in the past few years have been tools for augmenting social connection…”
As technology progresses, the need for connection remains. Mashable recently wrote an article on the “5 Predictions for the Music Industry in 2011“, and predicted that the Ping network on iTunes would not be successful since it seems to be focused “more on commerce than social”, although it has tried to integrate this element through the use of Twitter. The same article also predicted that artists would become more social as this has been beneficial to their growth in a changing environment. If anything, technology is giving us new opportunities to connect and interact with one another.
As educators, we need to continue to find safe and effective ways for our students to have the opportunity to participate in this human network. Johnson contends that if anything, technology has forced us to grow:
“The rise of the Internet has challenged our minds in three fundamental and related ways: by virtue of being participatory, by forcing users to learn new interfaces, and by creating new channels for social interaction.”
If relationships are the foundation of our schools, and technology helps to create and enhance these, it is hard to contest that social media should not be more apparent in our learning environments.