Occasionally students in my EDU652 Instructional Design & Delivery course express hesitation about obtaining a Twitter and Facebook account as requested in the the dilemma structured tool-practice discussions in the course assessment design. This post is a response for the community of ID professionals reading this blog and for the students of EDU652 to consider.
As a students in the EDU652 course you are an Instructional Design (ID) professional in training to some degree; I certainly understand the hesitations expressed. Personally, I am engaged in social media (SoMe) activity on Twitter and Facebook, mostly due to my desire to be competent with these tools to best develop instruction for you in relation to their uses as learning technologies.
It’s basically participatory observation to inform my reflective learning with regard to these tools, to sharpen the authenticity of my practice as your educator-for-hire, and to inform research I may eventually do on the topic of social learning and topics related thereto!
How do I use Facebook and Twitter as an ID Professional?
In summary, know that I may “follow” you on Twitter (it depends on the value for my learning I perceive in the content you (re)tweet) and know that I will not “friend” you on Facebook unless we are colleagues or actual ‘real-life’ colleagues or friends. Thus, I use these accounts differently: Twitter is my most public account where I know everything I post is “public” while Facebook is a more intimate tool reserved for real-world friends and colleagues, without the expectation that what I say will be repeated, but with full knowledge by me of knowing that it might be! I follow people I’ve never met in person and may never meet in person on Twitter, yet I will not friend someone on Facebook unless we have a real-world connection or an established professional virtual connection, such as through correspondence via email, perhaps. These are “my” rules for my use of these SoMe technologies for learning and sharing as an ID professional. I firmly believe everyone is empowered to set their own rules for SoMe participation. My rules are my personal philosophy/framework for my SoMe participation.
That being said, please be reassured as a student that if you DO NOT want to practice with and explore Twitter and Facebook authentically as part of your coursework, you can still participate by exploring these tools academically in the abstract by analyzing and synthesizing research-based and popular literature discussing their implementation, affordances, and effectiveness as learning technologies.
For some context, read the following paraphrased excerpt from an email I once received from an EDU652 student…
Thanks in advance for your time reading this Professor Johnson, my question pertains to getting a Twitter and Facebook account. I don’t have any social media sites. This is on purpose. There is actually a twofold reason. One is personal and private; the other reason is purely my personal belief system and getting on would put my own personal integrity at risk. I don’t believe social media is good for society. Therefore, I have a dilemma with adequately completing the assessments for Twitter and Facebook. I feel very strongly that we should not be forced to sign up for social media accounts. I have a very strong belief system against being forced to do this! I feel I can research the pro’s and con’s of without having an account. Also, since there are varied communications’ methods out there to keep in constant communication with others I don’t feel I will be forced to ever only use Twitter or Facebook in the work place.
Now, please read my response to the student:
My thoughts are that you are entitled to avoid immersion in the social media world and to avoid signing up/participating in these third-party services we learn about in our class. Just as with the blogging and screencasting assessments, your actual use of these third-party technologies is your choice. My “alternative” assessment plan for you, and anyone who does not want to use Facebook or Twitter, is this: Simply research the tool using publicly available sources (i.e, those available to you in scholarly literature, popular writings about the tools on blogs and websites and discussion forums online, etc.) In assessments related to these tools, I expect you to address the dilemma presented about use of these tools and, as always, support your recommendations and conclusions with critical thinking and with use of support from scholarly and popular sources.
However, know that regardless of your personal opinion on social media, it is a fact that as an instructional designer – in many real-world contexts – you WILL be expected to participate in SoMe. Therefore, you might try to broaden your perspective about SoMe tools and their value for teaching and learning with technology.
To be sure you understand: I am not trying to indoctrinate you toward belief in technology enhanced learning with Web 2.0/social media as it relates to the embodiment of social learning theory and social media in EDU652 – I am providing by design some instructional experiences that can expose you to practical and immersive-experiential activities that involve common SoMe technologies that many instructional designers are expected to have experience with in the real-world of ID work. That said, please focus your replies in our discussions about these tools on an unbiased analyses of available research on the tools.
As an ID professional, I do participate in SoMe and try to do so setting a positive example. I am very aware of my digital presence on these sites, Twitter, Facebook, and even Google+ …. Additionally, since I teach about these technologies, I feel a responsibility to walk the talk and actually use the tools, so I am engaged in SoMe ultimately for professional purposes! I have learned through my use of SoMe that “success” in the use of SoMe tools varies for professionals and is fully dependent on one’s attitude about the technology’s usefulness and one’s approach or professionalism when engaging in SoMe.
Example: I connected with an esteemed member of the ID community via Twitter after having participated in the backchannel for a conference we both attended. It is not likely this esteemed, busy academic professional in ID would take the time to converse with me by telephone or email ever in a cold-call contact situation, yet via our initial connection in the use of social media I have been able to learn WITH and FROM this individual — After following each other on Twitter, we conversed by email and have now become colleagues / “friends” / on Facebook …and the learning continues as this person is a now a member of my PLC and I theirs.
SoMe technology has the affordance of creating connections among professionals that may otherwise not occur or, at least, would not as easily or rapidly occur via traditional methods for professional learning and social-networking.
That being said, remember, SoMe CAN expand and enhance your Professional Learning Community (PLC) and, in turn, your lifelong education… it can, if you use it proactively and yes, professionally… responsibly… in a smart way (i.e, have a positive digital presence and you will get positive results).
In summary, this post was about the value of PLC expansion and maintenance via SoMe – Yes, reader, you can learn about Twitter and Facebook discussions entirely from a literature / abstract / non-practitioner point of view. Yet, at the same time, remember, there can be value in the services; like ALL things in life, I’d argue, it’s got potential to be a positive in your life… or a negative; it’s what you make of it.
The image in this post has a powerful message, I think… it relates to the point of this post about being positive and you will get positive results in life! Source is from my G+ account; found online via Facebook one day and saved it; author and original source are unknown/anonymous. If you need a transcript of the image’s text, contact me I am happy to provide one for you.