Social media, Pen pals, and Access

I was reading an infographic about social media and education and one part talked about how an instructor uses social media to connect his foreign language students with native speaking people.  Essentially, his students have pen pals they are connecting with using social media (Skype).  This surely makes a much more authentic experience than what I had when I was in school and we used mail to communicate back and forth.  Effective, but I never really knew my pen pal and certainly didn’t stay in contact after the course ended.  Social media is changing how we communicate and interact, but in a good way.

This was certainly an exciting opportunity for this teacher’s students to experience, but what struck me most about this was the incredible ease we have to connect with others from around the world.  We have almost unlimited access to people, information, and other resources, but the unfortunate reality is that too few teachers leverage these tools to create meaningful experiences for their students.  I don’t have any hard data to support my claims, just my own beliefs and opinions, but it doesn’t seem like teachers are unwilling to use social media.  To me, it seems like teachers just need support and a vision to see the possibilities.  The problem as I see it is that two fundamental things are missing from many schools…proper support and a vision.

What are your thoughts?  How are you or other teachers in your school using social media to communicate with others on a local, state, national, or even global scale?  How has that changed the dynamic of the classroom?  Add a comment and keep the conversation going.

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