For this week’s blog post, I have titled it with the exact words that I conducted my Internet research under. I found many interesting articles, but the one I wish to focus on in particular came from The Alberta Teacher’s Association. It was called Can Social Networking Boost Literacy Skills?
This article, as it included information primarily from two different studies in the first part, did admit that recent numbers show that students are picking up books less and less. However, students are still reading. Each month, week, day, whatever, students are reading innumerable emails, tweets, blog posts, status updates, etc. What does this mean? This means that students are reading. Not only that, but this social networking is also fostering a new generation of confident and capable writers.
The article, in part, focused on blogging for further elucidation upon this point, but the information is still valid for other social networking platforms. Other studies found that students who actively blog are more likely to keep journals, write short stories, etc. outside of the blogosphere as well. Not only that, but posting their work on social media allows for feedback potential that they might not have otherwise. Therefore, students are being influenced by other writers and readers and thus showing definitive signs of writing improvement as well as boosted self-confidence in the practice of writing itself.
Continuing from this premise, while it can be said that students are less likely to pick up a physical copy of a book, maybe we should stop considering that the “be all, end all” of literacy. Students are reading more digital copies of things, being exposed to more forms of information media, and listening to audio formats of works from around the world. For many, social media is the first step where they are exposed to these new things and then are spurred to go out and look for more themselves. As such, maybe it is time to start moving towards patterns of thought and teaching that align with this paradigm shift. If we do so, then we are more likely to not only recognize social media’s educative potential for literacy, but to also more successfully implement it for our students and ourselves.
There is so much potential for teaching and learning through technology and social media. All we have to do is reach for it.