Game Changer?


Right now there is a conversation that is going on in #EDChat about the impact that social media has on education.  As many posts in the last little while have talked about the urgency to adopt social media and technology into our schools (including mine), the “why” of this needs to be apparent.

Now my assumption is that many administrators do not use Twitter right now (either consistently or at all), although I have found it to be a great resource to use as professional development and networking in education.  A lot of educators do however, read this blog from time to time, and perhaps we need to share some examples of what has happened in our schools with our students that has impacted their learning. Through our comments and narrative, perhaps more administrators would be willing to take the leap.  On the other hand, maybe there are some stories of how social media was implemented in a school and had a negative impact.  We also learn from those missteps as well.

For example, within my own school, once I built up my own understanding of how to effectively use social media to impact my learning, I helped to build a portfolio program within our school for our students.  Our students had the ability to not only create, write, and share their stories in different mediums, but they also began to see their growth through the process.  This type of self-assessment was extremely beneficial to their learning.  Although this could come through any type of portfolio, using a blogging format that was easily shared with other students in the school, the students were able to learn from each other.  Ideas continuously evolved amongst our students and we saw a shift from the teacher as the only source of information in the classroom, to students learning and sharing with one another. This caused a great cyclical effect in their learning, while obviously engagement increased.

I would love for you as an educator to share the impact social media has had not on only you, but more importantly, the impact it has had on your students.  Please share a comment so that others can read your story.  Through these examples, we are more likely to move forward.



  1. George,

    I don’t think social media is a game changer by itself. In my opinion the key to learning is relationships and connections. This happens on many different levels. We connect and nurture relationships with our students that surely has positive impacts on their learning. In addition, we have relationships with other professionals that has the potential for positive influence on our student learning. For example, when you can sit down and talk to other teachers about what they are doing you can bring those ideas back to your students. Anytime you can learn from others and make those connections your students certainly benefit.

    This is where social media comes in. By itself, it is simply a piece of technology. However, when used properly, it is a game changer in the way it allows for connections and relationships to be created. Sure, we can talk with other teachers in our building or in our district. With social media tools we can talk and connect 24/7 with educators of varying perspectives that is not possible within one school building.

    Social media is not a game changer…educators willing to connect and learn from each other is the game change. Social media just makes it easier to do.


    July 19, 2011
  2. George,

    Another great post!

    Your post hit home with me for a number of reasons. first of all I was one of those eudcators involved in the chat but I do believe that educators that are already on Twitter for the most part get the value of social media as an educational tool. The real question is how can we reach those that aren’t on Twitter and get them to see the value of what I would like to call “Social Learning” .

    For me Twitter has been a great tool for my own growth as an educational leader. I have an amazing PLN, have been blogging for almost a year, I am a member of Connected Principal and will be presenting at the upcoming RSCON#3 online conference. All of this I attribute to my getting involved in Twitter.

    I have also brought Skype into my classroom and those of my teachers. We have Skyped with students in Alberta, Omaha, and Jacksonville. Our students not only learned from others but shared their experiences and culture with other students.To me as an educator the most amazing thing was to watch my students becoming teachers as they taught students in Alberta about Chanukah.

    I/We have a long way to go. Currently I am the one of the only administrators/teachers at my school that uses Twitter, and we have not incorporated the other areas of “Social Learning” but there is an educational value and it is our job as educational leaders to show the value.
    As someone said a while ago during an #edchat our students are using all of these tools outside of school so lets do something to take that energy and bring those tools and skills into the school.


    July 19, 2011
  3. David Wees said:

    By the same logic Josh, the printing press wasn’t a game changer either. All it did was allow people to share their writing more publicly and reduce the cost of accessing information.

    While I agree that we need behaviour to change for social media to be useful, sometimes the technology transforms behaviour. Look at the car for example. How completely has that one technology transformed our society?

    July 19, 2011
  4. Great post George!

    You make some good points about moving the integration of social media forward in schools. I think David also makes a good point that I support when he says in his comment, “While I agree that we need behaviour to change for social media to be useful, sometimes the technology transforms behaviour. Look at the car for example. How completely has that one technology transformed our society?”

    I taught a how to connect and develop your PLN on Twitter class about 2 years ago. This was an online course and the students varied in age, culture, location, and education. One of the inspiring stories for me was when a 16 year-old boy from the Philippines (he was the youngest student) I taught found a way to share his love for music with peers worldwide on Twitter. He said it was very motivating for him because he had felt isolated before that coming from an isolated location. He also began blogging as a result of taking that Twitter class and joining Twitter. He did the blog on his own time and it had several great reflections including one when he experienced flooding and hardships in his area. I think that it is important for students to feel connected to others and to have conversations with peers worldwide. It’s definitely important for their social and mental development and these experiences will help them when they are adults. There are many leaders out there who have a problem making decisions with the mindset of thinking how those choices will impact other human beings, especially those worldwide. I think part of that is because too many never travel or leave their country or even their local area. Staying in one place limits thinking. Many people may be too poor to travel but through an Internet connection kids can still develop friendships with those worldwide. Social media is free and about human connections.

    July 19, 2011
  5. Bo Adams said:


    Great post and great comments from your readers. I tend to be a “both-and” thinker, so I see Josh’s and David’s comments as both-and…we need the human motivation and the tools to get us there. More generally, about my views on social media in schools, I played my many of my cards today with the post “Be safe and teach them to drive.”

    As you know, the first case-study for me regarding positive impact of social media on students involves @TaraWestminster and @TaraSubmarine. Twitter has allowed us a deep teacher-student (learner-learner) relationship that is ongoing and relatively unbound by time and space.

    Second, the #20minwms experiment (action research) prompted by @jgough and her work with @centerteach stands as an amazing case study of integrating brain research and social media. Participating teachers pause at 20 mins of class and ask students to reflect on what they are learning. Then class collaboratively tweets; some Synergy students had pilot permission to tweet as well. Classes became connected, and parents (and others) could tune into learning in the Junior High and HS at Westminster. Through lunch-and-learns, other teachers joined Twitter and began participating. It is a fabulous positive.

    We have had some poor use of social media from students, but they provide great “teachable moments” and learning opps that we may have missed otherwise.

    July 19, 2011
  6. Gregory Hill said:

    Had I not connected to other language teachers during my first year of teaching, I would have not been 1/10th of the teacher I am today. My students would not have 1/10th of the opportunities they had over the last four years, nor would they now have the chance to communicate with their own networks of supporters in the same way as I have.

    I went from having no support at my school (and complaining about that) to taking complete ownership over my own learning. I went from no world language colleagues to over a thousand in a year!

    In my experience, not learning is oftentimes a result from not being able to overcome either scarcity or abundance. If tools, mentors, partners, collaborators, etc. are scarce, then learning and growth are difficult. If information is abundant, and therefore difficult to curate, analyze or understand, then learning and growth are difficult.

    Social networks reduce scarcity by providing you with a choice of collaborators and people to learn from. They also address abundance by helping provide information curated by your most trusted peers.

    I went back for my masters a few years ago and I can assure you, my experiences with my network on twitter were more valuable than a full two years of graduate school. This statement alone underlies the most confusing thing about that process: that teacher education doesn’t automatically include social learning at it’s base.

    I agree with Josh that social networks themselves aren’t the game changer, but their ability to connect people in real time to solve the scarcity/abundance issue change the game completely.

    July 19, 2011
  7. Ryan said:

    “perhaps we need to share some examples of what has happened in our schools with our students that has impacted their learning.”


    July 19, 2011
  8. Remi Collins said:

    I agree that Social Media is not a game changer on its own, but the connecting possibilities and learning opportunities that educators are taking advantage of is. SM is the tool, but it is the attitude and desire that are the game changers. I relate a lot to Akevy’s post on this subject, as it is a slower process than one that I would like, but I guess patience is a virtue.
    One of the aspects that I have really come to enjoy is the collaborative documents that are now possible to do. We created a slide presentation on Social Media as a basic intro for the British Columbia Principals and Vice-Principals Association using Google Docs while we were sitting in our offices in three different area of our province.
    I have loved the fact that I was able to see professional development presentations that I could not attend due to calendar issues or geographic reasons, follow the backchannel conversations, and get a sense of what was going on. My learning has been deeper, my connections stronger, my beliefs reinforces, altered or completely changed for the better.
    It is always the people who are the game changers, if not SM would really be a daily update of how much I sweat on my hike today and pictures of my dog… OK I still do that a little, but try and keep it to Facebook. Haha!

    July 20, 2011
  9. George,
    Thank you for the opportunity to comment. I am an administrator of a private company that services NJ school districts by providing LIVE onlline instruction for their students hosted by a state certified content specialist with solutions for home instruction / summer remedial / and in school courses to supplement an existing course framework. Perhaps I will just issue a single quote as to the positive impact we have enjoyedi n being of service to the NJ district administrators, their students, and the parents:

    “…I just wanted to thank you guys for giving me a chance to pass my junior year and giving me so many chances to catch up when I couldn’t make it to classes. I really enjoyed the whole online classroom experience and I wish ALL schooling was done like this. I really loved the teachers because they were very lively and easy to understand even though I never got to see them. I think that’s what makes a wonderful teacher: the fact that they can make learning fun even when I’m not directly looking at them or sitting down in the same room as them. Again, thank you very much! My parents are thankful, too.”

    Sincere thanks for this opportunity,

    July 20, 2011
  10. […] the last few days there have been many excellent blogs and chats about Social Media. @gcouros for Connected Principals wrote one as well as @stumpteacher, both are excellent […]

    July 20, 2011
  11. John Burrell said:

    When working with students we would get more support and understanding if we collectively chose more appropriate labels such as ‘learning media’ or ‘learning networks’. They’re not social nor even social academic networks as they are constructed (for the most part) under the directed by teachers as a learning platform not social platform. Convincing managers, colleagues, parents, perhaps even student themselves of the benefits of these technologies is not help by the use of terminology that suggests we’re just having a good old chat.

    July 21, 2011
  12. Jana Scott Lindsay (@janaslindsay) said:

    It was a much welcomed professional learning opportunity to have the pleasure to collaborate and share a passionate conversation with like minded educators who believe as vehemently as I do that students need to make connections to their learning in authentic and meaningful ways. It is so very important that when we look at transforming and learning that we focus less on the tools and more on quality instruction in the classroom. Providing students with the opportunities to investigate, inquire, ask questions, synthesize, and create and meaning for themselves as part of their learning journey is essential and should be part of every educator’s teaching quest.

    I believe Sarah Brown Wessling, 2010 NationalTeacher of the Year, offer a much needed view of approaching the work we do in educations by describing her classroom ” as a place where the teacher in the ‘lead learner, and the classroom walls are boundless.”

    Food for thought.

    July 21, 2011

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