Facebook: the Death of Classroom Education

30 Mar

I’m all for the productive uses of technology in the classroom: the ability to research or access information on the web is an invaluable resource for students and teachers alike. We’re in a digital age! The possibilities for technological intellectual stimulation are endless.

But as the madman in Anderson’s Feed tells the world: “We live in a time of calamity!”

Social networking is a wonderful resource; Facebook allows us to communicate with friends and family around the world. Every single person can open her or her ideas and passions to an audience previously unimaginable- with the click of one button, you can share with 700 “friends” a poem you wrote about your dying cat – and people will respond. Blogging and Twitter reveal the writer to an international stage, where the activist can connect with the philanthropist, the organization can meet the volunteer, and colleagues can collaborate to reform the profession – what a potential for wildfire revolution!

Instead, we’ve developed a mass market of meaningless social connectedness and technological irresponsibility.

It’s great that Todd likes Starbucks and wishes there was a dislike button for Seattle’s Best. The pictures of his cat with things on its head are innovative. His creative genius in listing “ask your mom” under his “About me” is inspiring. Really. Todd seems like a stand-up guy.

Not-so-great is the fact that Todd takes precedence over discussions in a college course regarding the teaching of exceptional learners and strategies to employ to assist their learning. Not-so-great is that we are pre-professional students spending thousands of dollars to educate ourselves in the hope of improving our profession. Not-so-great is the fact that this happens every hour, every day.

Is this the fault of the students or the teachers?

This question is critical to the field of education – technological development is exploding and teachers will need to learn to harness its influence in the classroom. However, I believe the question applies very differently to the fields of secondary and post-secondary education.

In secondary education, most students are still living at home. They’re teenagers, dealing with tough emotional and physical changes. In addition, they are required to attend a public institution until 16 or 18 years old. School is not a choice. In high school, a teacher’s close eye on students’ use of technology is probably necessary.

When a high school student goes off to college, a widespread assumption is made. They’re young, emotionally and physically. It’s the first time they’ve been away from home. Students, while learning how to navigate a massive brand-new social and academic network, might need a bit more guidance from their professors in what they can and can not do.

However, after two years of higher education, one can expect the bar to be raised. Students have started developing a self-identity and have a better idea of what they want from the world and how they want to contribute to it. Many programs have academic requirements and professional expectations: the student enters these programs understanding that his or her education is being elevated to the next step. They are no longer undecided “young” adults – they are adults and pre-professionals. With this responsibility, students also expect professors to ask more and treat the student differently. College begins to feel like an apprenticeship. While the pre-professional is still a student, they are not young in mind; they are expected to be capable of critical thinking and self-motivation. A transition occurs and expectations are raised.

While many responsibilities accompany the student’s decision to enter a profession, one of the most basic may be this: disconnect from Facebook in class. Listen to what experienced educators are saying – engage the information and question its validity. It is not the job of the professor to police a pre-professional student using technology; the student could be taking notes or engaging in research regrading the topic. We are not young kids any longer.

As technology continues to develop, I know this issue will be one I face as a future teacher; I know I will have to teach students the value of technology, and how to reign it in during class period to develop academic strengths. This mindset starts now – we must make technology our tool, not our master.

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One Response to “Facebook: the Death of Classroom Education”

  1. lvan March 30, 2011 at 1:51 pm #

    Ah, the age-old balance of independence, guidance and responsibility–from all involved parties…

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