Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope… and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance. ~Robert F. Kennedy
I follow Andy Carvin (@acarvin) on Twitter. Andy is a senior strategist at NPR, and over the past several weeks his tweets (and re-tweets) have been largely dedicated to the revolutions taking place in the Middle East. As I have read his postings — frequently direct observations from Egypt and Libya — I have been struck by the power of technology and social media. Twitter has provided a nearly instantaneous stream of news, observations and opinions on these truly “world-changing” events. A virtual documentary.
As these events have unfolded on my Twitter feed, I can’t help but imagine the powerful, and engaging, educational applications of social media. For example, students utilizing Twitter to follow real-time events, Google Earth to gain a better understanding of specific regions, and Skype to connect and discuss these issues with students in other parts of the world. I have been on Twitter (and participated in #edchat) long enough to know that many teachers, and schools, are taking advantage of these opportunities, but I also know that the majority are not. Opportunities lost.
Incorporating technology to provide students with a meaningful and relevant awareness of the world around them is no longer an option–it is an obligation. Many of our students carry smart phones and iPods — a means of world communication — in their pockets. They live in a world where connectivity is a reality. Their ability to effectively participate and communicate in this shrinking world is every bit as important as the core content standards we discuss ad nausea. Do what you can–use the tools available to engage students in meaningful discussions about what is going on in the world so that they are prepared to be difference makers. Create your own virtual documentaries…tweet on!