Thoughts on a TED talk by Clay Shirky: How Social media can make History

As I think about social media, and the ever increasing presence in the classroom, I think it is safe to say that it is something that is taken for granted by the population of students that sit in my college classroom. The question that I now have to ask myself is, “How do I change the way I teach, listen and learn to adapt to this change in information sharing and connectivity?”.

In this TED Talk: http://www.ted.com/talks/clay_shirky_how_cellphones_twitter_facebook_can_make_history.html, the speaker demonstrates how media that was once professionals broadcasting to amateurs has completely changed. Now we are in an age of full participation. Any person can broadcast or publish their message or point of view. This creates amazing opportunities and change but also presents challenges for the way that I have been teaching. 

I need to consider that although I may be the instructor, I may not have the most knowledge or expertise in a given area. The classroom is a collection of individuals that have all had different life experiences and come with their own special skills. Now add to that their ability to find information quickly and pass it on to their cohort, and you have a population that is prepared to question, challenge and examine the information presented.  Instead of this being something that concerns me, I think it is an opportunity for greatness. I need to be more accountable for my knowledge and understanding of a subject area, and I need to think like my students. I need to ask myself what connections do I want them to make? What information do I want them to share, pass on, and really think about? 

 If we now live in a connected world where it is all about global and social media, Clay Shirky states that now information is less about a single message, but more about how to we manage how messages are conveyed and organized into groups. 

How am I going to present information to my classes that will add value, inspire more discovery and also meet the learning goals. How do I stay accountable for what I say and what my students pass on in the social media world?

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