Sunday, August 8, 2010

Social media challenges for educators

This past week I was on a panel on social media at the PrepMe College Readiness Institute. The audience was educators and counselors at the high school level and also on the panel were Linda Tuncay Zayer from Loyola and David Koehler from UIC. The Chicago Public School system has banned educators from communicating with students in any other forum than the CPS email. I assume the CPS wants to keep a handle on communication and protect everyone involved. Here is the problem: The younger generations don't like email, preferring social media and texting for communication. We have trouble at NIU getting students to read email even when money is involved, like scholarships.

I suggested that the CPS start its own social network, perhaps on Ning, to engage students and share information. We use social networking extensively in our Interactive Marketing program. We have a special group under my page to share job information and other updates and do the same in Linkedin. We are also going to be starting a Facebook fan page for the IM program because the program has become so big that we need a little bit more formal way to communicate. I don't know how I would let students know about jobs when they are five years out without Facebook. I have been a member since 2005 and it is a great way to stay in touch.

We also talked about the negatives of social media, including fostering a short attention span and poor communication skills. We wonder what the next generation will be like? Will they be able to or even need to write a business memo. Any comments?
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