Keeping It Real: Social Media Debate in Chicago Public Schools

Yesterday I came across this article about the CPS social media debate that really got my attention. Over the past few years there has been huge controversy about using social media in CPS schools for educational purposes. Some teachers say that social media would be yet another distraction to students in the classroom environment. On the other hand, some teachers say that it expands the learning environment of a typical, four wall class room into a larger global perspective for students. After seeing the pros and cons of both sides of this debate, I believe that CPS should allow teacher and student access to social media websites such as YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, and Twitter, but they should also have set limitations on these social media sites. In todays world, social media is everywhere and there is really no escape from it. In my high school experience most of my teachers used social media in the classroom and it helped me better understand topics in class that the teacher could not explain to me. For example in my AP Physics class I was having trouble studying for a free response exam. I always seemed to struggle in the class as a whole but free response was a nightmare. During class one day I took out my iPad and just did a Google search on previous response questions and ways to study for free response tests. As a result I came across a blog from a physics teacher and it saved my grade. Most schools have blogging sites blocked but they can be great study tools. Instead of trying to hide or ban these websites from students and teachers they should learn to integrate them into the everyday class structure.  Part of the problem is that the teachers are not taught how to use these websites to benefit the students and as a result they ignore the fact that social media exists.  The world around us is always advancing so why shouldn’t the way students are taught advance? That’s not to say that the school system has not advanced at all, but now its as if CPS is at a stand still. According to U.S. News “fewer than 20% of teachers use social media in the classroom although most do personally.”   Some teachers update their Facebook page more than they update their class websites. As a result students might miss an assignment or two and it puts the class behind.  Teachers could set up group Facebook pages for each class to constantly update students on work and deadlines. Youtube and Vimeo are good websites to show class demos for science experiments, providing an extra tool for visual learners to get help during class time if the teacher is busy.  Teachers and students can set up blogs to get outside feedback on work from professionals in the field of study.  You can even go as far as FaceTime or Skype lectures from authors or professionals.  Teachers can even set up Twitter accounts for classes and tweet out work. The possibilities are endless when it comes to using social media in the classroom. There should even be classes in CPS schools on how to use social media properly. Most students that use social media were never told what and what not to do on the internet. If CPS implemented more classes like that it would be much easier for teachers to use social media and parents would not worry so much about their child using social media. Overall, social media is a positive tool that should be used more in CPS because it provides more opportunity for students to learn and access tools from experts all over the world. By: Kumari Mason

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