13 December 2009

the power of social media

While helping my favorite son with his homework this morning, I got a phone call. It was my wife calling. This may not seem strange and normally it wouldn't be, but she was calling from the other end of the house. She called because there was a great segment on the Oprah show (we DVR anything we want to watch) she wanted me to see. If you decide not to read the link, I'll sum it up in a few short sentences: Journey got a new lead singer because of social media, specifically, Youtube. The band's guitar player and spokesperson, was about ready to give up on the 10 year search for a lead singer when he happened to see a Youtube video (I don't think I got the exact video, but its the same singer and band in the same venue) of a guy in the Philippines who was covering one of Journey's hits, "Faithfully" at the Hard Rock Cafe' in Manila. To make a long story short, Journey found its new lead singer. Thanks, at least in part, to social media.

The wife didn't call me back because of the social media connection, she simply wanted to share a "rags to riches" story, probably because she knows I'm a sap and enjoy a good segment of Oprah every now and then (no need to spread that kind of information around, though). I was simply struck by the incredible power of social media, whether purposefully used, or accidentally "stumbled upon", pun intended. As I said in my research paper, its no answer to any of the world's problems, but it is a very powerful tool which can be used to affect change.

The second time today I was struck by the power of social media tools was when I made a humorous/serious comment on Facebook about a great movie, "The Breakfast Club". Here's my comment: "I think about things I hear at school. Like "these kids have changed" "they are more arrogant this year" and then I wonder about the custodian in The Breakfast Club when he said: "Oh come on Vernon, the kids didn't change, you did." Hmmm. Is there truth to that? Will I ever feel that way? I hope not."  If you'd like to see the entire conversation that ensued, its here. One of my students chimed in and I thought, what a great opportunity for a guest blog post. A perspective on generation-Y from someone of that generation! I know, you are wondering when I'll get to the point. Well, its now. We were conversing using social media. This was pointed out (by me) in our conversation. There is no way I ever would have had that conversation with a student inside the walls of my classroom. #1, I'm not that good at remembering what I did over the weekend, #2 we have too much information to cover and never would have taken the time to talk about this.

I think social media is changing not only the how we communicate, but the "with whom" we communicate. I can tell you from experience, no matter your thoughts on the evils or advantages of social media in education, I have deeper relationships with my students than I ever would have if I still had the rule of "Yes I have a Facebook and No I will not friend you". This was where I was when I first started teaching. I've changed a bit since then. Not sure why, not sure how, but I've changed. I, for one, think its for the better.

What do you think?

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