Tedx Kalamazoo

I was lucky enough to invite myself to last night’s Tedx Kalamazoo (#tedxkzoo) talks last night. My husband had been invited and was planning on going by himself and at the last minute we found a sitter and went together. I was SO excited by a couple of the talks, namely the first one (Paul Stermer, Executive Director of Fair Food Matters) and the fourth one (Dr. Bill Ward, currently of Syracuse University). I could go on and on about the local food scene and Paul’s talk, but since this is an ed class, I’ll focus on Dr. Ward’s discussion of Digital Literacies and Social Media in the classroom.

(Consider this my first “big idea” for the week)

Here are some notes that I jotted down through email while Dr. Ward (@Dr4Ward) talked:

* Last month, according to a ManPower Survey, there were 13,000 jobs out there (not being filled) that had social media experience as requirements.

* Including social media/digital literacies in the classroom makes learning social, dynamic, and extended. Meaning, students learn from each other, teach the teacher, learn more/different things, and it’s not just limited to class time.

* By encouraging students to use social media (ex: a Twitter hashtag for your class), students use the technology already in their hands (ok, here I’m thinking of more of a college-level because it’s more difficult to get it into high schools). They interact with the prof and other students (and even other students in different classes within the course) through the hashtag. They learn things and share more readily. They can immediately answer questions they come up with or the prof has, can immediately expand their learning. Plus, with hashtags, the prof can immediately run a report on who is tweeting, how many hits, etc. Simple numbers that are easy to come by!

I was so excited by his talk last night. It connected with how I learn and how I take classes, but takes it farther. For example, when I have my computer in front of me during class, as was shown last Tuesday, I participate in class, but I am also searching and multi-tasking. Last week I was able to skim that second Atlantic article about New Dorp  and immediately bring it into class discussion. (Reminder to self: post a big idea on that too…) I also skimmed some of the class blogs and commented on one or two of them. But I was also engaged in class.

That’s the thing. For better or worse, people today (especially those 30 & under) are used to multi-tasking. We use technology (laptops, tablets, cell phones) while also doing something else. So why not harness this power for good in the classroom?

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