In the article, "What if Abraham Lincoln Had a Facebook Page?", Brian Glover describes how historical figures and events can be studied through the supplemental use of Facebook. He argues that traditional biography reports can cause students to “slide into a coma,” but that the use of Facebook can make the same research tasks more interesting and relevant. Glover uses the example of Abraham Lincoln to show how a student can apply research to the creation of a Facebook page, giving historical information a modern twist through status updates, photos, videos and polling. Similarly, historical relationships, like the given example of the relationship between the US and the USSR post-World War II, can be documented over time via the same tools on the social media site. Glover uses these two well known historical examples to demonstrate how social media does not need to be an enemy of the classroom. He argues that “many educators need to change their negative views of technology if they are to take full advantage of powerful digital storytelling tools.”
As a person who is not inclined to share what I had for lunch on a social media platform, I found Glover’s argument for the use of Facebook compelling. Social media, whether we like it or not, is going to make its way into the classroom, and I agree that it will be more useful if its use is assigned, rather than being sneakily used from a personal device under the desk or behind the façade of a textbook. I think the implementation of social media as a platform for delivering research can be just as useful as a blog, and can help to demonstrate the NETS standard for communication and collaboration. Students might be more inclined to participate in research on a social platform that they will be using anyway, with the end result being a demonstration of students’ research and information fluency, as well as participation in digital citizenship.
Glover’s argument that “school leadership must foster an environment that allows technology to spark learning” is a valid one. A prohibition against social media in the classroom will not only lead to covert rebellion, but it also misses the opportunity for making learning relevant for students today. Utilizing the tools that students are already familiar with can allow educators to speak to students’ interests and habits, while still teaching to the content standards that must be taught.
Read the article here:
Glover, B. (2013). What if Abraham Lincoln had a Facebook page? Learning & Leading with Technology, 40(8). 38-39.