Sunday, March 16, 2014

Ellen's Selfie and Educators

Ellen's Selfie -- The Most Retweeted Tweet Ever
Ellen's famous selfie from Oscar Night-- a spontaneous group movie star photo retweeted by viewers for a world's record-- was vacuous and narcissistic. As such, it substantiated the negative opinions I hear from educators (young and old) about social media in general. "Twitter is only good for following celebrities".  "Who cares what someone had for breakfast?"  "I like to communicate to others in person."  

I have gone repeatedly on record disagreeing about the alleged worthlessness of Twitter. In a recent blog post I wrote, "I have cultivated a wonderful network of tweeters interested in educational technology. In 140 characters or less they point me to an incredibly rich variety of resources and opinions."  More recently at our first Tech Talk at Mercy High School the #mhtalk hashtag facilitated robust communication about this exciting event before, during, and after the conference.

Looked at from my perspective, Ellen's selfie speaks to the power of social media. This was mass media delivered without a gatekeeper.  It was global, instantaneous and interactive.

I was inspired to write this by Tom Whitby's more worthwhile reflection on Ellen's tweet in  "What's in a Selfie?"  I recommend that you read the entire post, but in the following passage is worth passing along to you directly:

Social Media is here to stay. Its form may change, and certainly the applications we use will not remain the same, but the idea of openly exchanging information in whatever forms it is produced is not going away. As educators we can use it or lose it. If we don’t start to understand and use this technology soon, we will lose the opportunity to harness it, because we will be irrelevant. We don’t need social media to teach, as much as we need it to learn. It is a cornucopia of information. We can tailor that information to personalize our learning. This is the way of today’s world. For the scholar, the tomes are no longer stored in the monasteries, they reside on the Internet, and collectively, if we all share that which we know, we will all benefit. Collectively we are smarter than we are individually. That is the basis of collaborative learning. It is no longer a face-to-face endeavor limited in time and space. It happens anywhere, and anytime through the use of technology. Technology is the game-changer. As educated individuals, how can we ignore the possibilities? 

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