The people across from me on the 5 train to the Bronx do not make eye contact with me. An argument ensues between a man and a woman and no one pays attention. There is a car full of people and not one is interested in the other. With social networking, however, the reality is quite different. People become brave, some become caring, some opinionated; all behind a well-lit screen called the computer. Social networking has always fascinated me in that it seems people become reckless creatures without care for how they portray themselves. My English Education Master’s Program at NYU has made me consider some aspects of social networking which may be beneficial for teaching and learning. Whether I will actually use these media tools in the classroom is another subject. I have chosen to focus on Twitter in part to help me get over my apprehension in signing up per Sava’s request. Furthermore, I have seen the positive aspects of using twitter for the purposes of engaging in conversations about politics, religion, education and literature. Here are my pros and cons:
1. Silent voices get heard on Twitter. There is empowerment in the written word and students who are apprehensive about speaking in class can be heard on a classroom forum built around Twitter.
2. Twitter can be a valuable tool for teaching a student with a learning disability in a fun, inventive way. Mayer and Moreno mention the visual and verbal channels through which learning occurs. For a student with developmental delays, a classroom community on Twitter can be quite the learning experience; both socially and intellectually.
3. Twitter is an opportunity for students who may not have access to technology and global information to become more knowledgeable about the world around him or her. It is an entry into a world that becomes accessible by a student and their family who may have been previously shut out for whatever reason. Furthermore, it presents an opportunity for the learner to become a teacher; passing on knowledge to friends and family members.
1. Without proper guidance, it can be a playground for bullies. The fact that one can sign up for Twitter using an alias is a gateway for people to say damaging things without the consequence of accountability.
2. There is access to everything a parent may want to keep away from their child. There are no real borders.
3. Cognitive overload: Too much information at once and too little time to retain invaluable learning experiences; the type of experiences that face to face interaction cannot be substituted for.