Friday, January 20, 2012

Students showed the power of Twitter to me last night #EdChat

Last night was just another night of the school year for me. I worked all day and did some prep for Final Exams next week. Students were supporting their basketball teams at home and having a good time. Before I went to bed last night, I check my Twitter feed of the school account to see if anyone had tweeted me. My feed was filled with the hash tag #IversInOurPrayers. I was very worried because I had taught an Ivers in class a few years ago. I clicked the tag and read hundreds of tweets showing love and support for the Ivers family. I finally found the source of the tweets and was devastated. Two students at my high school lost their father.
It is a tragedy for anyone to lose a parent. It has to be one of the most difficult things to deal with. What made me feel good was seeing the tweets from all of the different students showing their support for this family. Some even said they didn’t know the family personally, but they were in their prayers. So many students were tweeting the tag that #IversInOurPrayers trended in the Detroit area for a short time.  The students also managed to get kids to wear blue in support of the family today as well. Tweets and retweets filled the night as kids worked hard to show their support for this family. It was amazing.
I bring this up to show the power of Twitter to people out there that are skeptical of its use or impact on students. There are school board members, teachers, administrators and others involved in the educational field around the country that feel that social media has no place in education and it should be kept out of schools. This show of love, support and compassion for fellow students is proof that Twitter can be used to great things in the educational environment. Every tool has its downside, but the upside should be looked at and embraced when it can help bring learning to a different level.
For those of you out there still unsure of the value of Twitter, take a minute and scroll though the #IversInOurPrayers feed and then tell me it’s a passing fad. Now, if you will excuse me, I need to put on my blue sweatshirt and get to class.


  1. This is a powerful blog about the effects of Twitter on our personal lives and its social networking capabilities. Sad, but still, thanks for sharing.

  2. Hi Nick,
    This was very moving, and reminded me of a conversation I had with my dad only a couple of days ago. He expressed his concern for the amount of time my teen step-sister spends on her cellphone. He claimed that social media like texting is making teens 'anti-social' because they spend their time 'connected' (go figure).
    "She can spend all night sitting on the couch not talking to us - we don't know what she's texting or to who. It's so anti-social" he said.
    I was a bit annoyed at his blanket dismisal of social media as anti-social, and vividly recall many an evening sitting on the same couch, without a cellphone, not being spoken to either, by him because he was engrossed in the television!
    If he wanted to know who she was texting/tweeting, he should just ask - my money is that last night she was telling her friends to wear blue and remember #Ivers in their prayers.

  3. Hi Steel-Cap Ballet Flat,
    Your comment reminds us of the dangers of stereotypes and reaching fast judgments.

  4. I spend a lot of time online and interact with a lot of people there, but these interactions do not come remotely close to human contact. Texting and tweeting, facebook slacktivism, posting sympathy - these are cheap substitutes for being present and looking someone in the eye. lol does not replace sharing a real laugh with someone and I pity people who try to convince themselves it does. I see groups of students standing around not interacting all the time, searching their devices for something better, something to share. And many (certainly not all) of these kids come to class and continue to text because they are not interested in depth beyond 140 characters. Boredom is the birthplace of creativity and we're not letting kids get bored and actually generate new material instead of retweeting what they've heard. It's great to see someone took the time to set up a hashtag for this tragedy, but this is a very small % of most posting.

  5. @ thetick,

    There is power in all forms of communication. Each form has ups and downs. I think it is safe to say that not every type of communication is for every person. My Dad who is a bit older than standard retirement age was adamant he would never text. He didn't understand it, said "if I want to talk to someone I'll call them and talk." About a year ago he realized if he would text he would get fewer interruptions on the golf course. That led to sending texts during ball games. He and I texted during a recent Purdue basketball game things like: "How did he miss that shot?!". I live 8 hours away. It allowed us to be connected - neither of us wanted to be on the phone or video chat for the entire game, we wanted to watch it.

    I joined Twitter after a recent conference. I've been on for about two months now. I have been directed to some great articles and blogs that challenge my thinking and provide me additional ways to look at topics. In addition, I now have connections at twenty new colleges and universities. These connections give me a new place to brainstorm ideas, learn about other schools best practices and learn about potential promotions.

    Facebook has allowed my daughter to stay in contact with my family. We moved 8 hours away when she was 5. She goes to family gatherings and she knows everyone by name and knows enough about them that she can comfortably carry on conversations with her second and third cousins and great aunt and uncles as if she lived next door.

    Email got a lot of flack when it became main stream. One of my best friends is in the military. When he joined 15 years ago I sent letters when he was deployed. His last two deployments we exchanged daily e-mails - which do you think made him feel more connected? I still sent care packages, but the power of technology on relationships is profound. To gloss over the positives and focus only on the negatives is counterproductive. The real conversation is how do we use the tools wisely to have the most impact.

    I still like hugs, I still like getting together with my family and I really enjoy having dinner with my online students when I travel around the country. Social media hasn't taken those skills away from me, in fact I appreciate those moments more than I ever have because I don't take those moments for granted.


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