Although this study offers insights into ways social studies educators experience Twitter, many limitations and questions remain. First, there has been no empirical research of how Twitter actually affects teaching and learning.
Second, the lack of use of Twitter to enhance various forms of communication and class activities should be researched. Rheingold contended that students should learn to be metacognitive about how and why they focus their attention, understand how to participate as active citizens who produce and share meaningful content, collaborate around important civic or educational problems, develop awareness about how networks can be leveraged, and hone an ability to consume online content critically and determine source trustworthiness. Evidence suggests that students and teachers are spending considerable time and energy using social media.
If social media is part of the world then digital citizens must learn to navigate it in ways that are democratic and participatory. No educators in our sample mentioned using social media critically, questioning how Twitter as a medium influenced communication compared to other means of communication i. Finally, numerous ways of using social media particular to the social studies were glaringly absent from the data.
This absence could be partially because our key qualitative question in the survey did not specifically query respondents on social studies applications. Nonetheless, social media offers new possibilities for connecting with people and organizations for democratic purposes.
While Twitter could be used to connect with museums, historians, or community members or organizations, the platform could also be used to engage in civic dialog, advocate for political or community change, or engage in ongoing public dialog. In short, a medium like Twitter that can facilitate connections that might otherwise be difficult could foster the types of democratic dispositions to which Dewey spoke and the social studies aim.
Numerous untapped possibilities exist that could help foster participatory experiences and collapse traditional educational boundaries. Social media platforms like Twitter offer potential to foster participatory learning centered around authentic problems, but recognizing this potential will require intentional and mindful work by educators.
Many social studies educators seem to be benefitting from the ongoing conversations via sschat and other hashtags that afford experiences that transcend spatial and temporal bounds. Yet, educators and researchers have many questions to answer: What effects do PD via media like Twitter have on teaching and learning in classrooms?
What needs to happen for social studies educators to leverage social media for class activities and democratic purposes? How can social studies educators use social media to encourage cross-cultural interactions and participate in civic activities? Social media and, in particular, a platform like Twitter should offer opportunities for social studies educators to consider opportunities to extend participatory networks toward democratic citizenship aims.
Whether participating in civic dialog, deliberating upon contemporary or historical sources online, or growing as a pluralistic citizen through online interactions with peers half the world away, social media can be leveraged. Educators should also critique social media as a way toward understanding how new technologies affect individual lives, institutions, and social movements. Unfortunately, efforts seem to be limited to use the platform for reducing distinctions among groups like administrators and teachers, parents and educators, and students and teachers, among other groups.
Minimal evidence exists that social media has transcended national, racial, or class lines to bring people of different experiences together for the common good. Might students learn to engage in democratic school governance dialog with teachers and administrators using a school hashtag, or could parents engage in class content discussions with students and teachers? Could social media allow students to engage with digital pen pals to grow as cosmopolitan global citizens?
Could they engage in social activism? Might they contact local community members to address social ills? Hitherto, new media seem to have made participatory learning possible, but intentionality, ingenuity, and resolution are needed by educators if social media is to foster democracy in ways that reach closer to Deweyan visions for the field. Apple, M. Are teachers losing control of their jobs? Social Education , 49 5 , Banks, J. Teaching for social justice, diversity, and citizenship in a global world. The Educational Forum 68 4 , Barton, K.
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