Social Media and Education: Why it Makes Perfect Sense

I am excited to have a guest post today from Long Reach High School rising senior Collin Sullivan. Collin is a technology enthusiast who enjoys learning and teaching about the latest application trends. He has led discussions at the Howard County Library System, engaged with teachers around professional development, and even wrote an article on EdSurge, “Five Things I Want Teachers To Know About EdTech.”



Social Media and Education: Why it Makes Perfect Sense

8080. That number is meaningless for many people, but for Howard County students, it is their favorite number. It is hard to believe that HCPSS Board of Education Policy 8080 has only been in effect for one year. As we celebrate the first year of Policy 8080, it is important to reflect on why this policy was implemented. Superintendent Foose, the Board of Education and the entire Howard County Public School System came to the realization that we were at a technological stand still. The school system has made significant improvements throughout the years. But in relation to how fast technology moves in the real world, HCPSS wasn’t keeping pace.

Social media is probably the biggest new wave to technology since the smartphone. It has redefined how we connect and how we interact with people. It has changed the dynamics of our lives. It has enhanced how we collaborate, communicate, and connect. Every teenager my age is on some sort of social media—whether it is Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Vine, Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, Blogster—just to name a few.

I took a biology class three years ago, and I actually was in a study group for it. We created a Facebook group to post assignments, when we were meeting and what was covered in class. Believe it or not, if a teacher had found out about that Facebook page, my HCPSS Computer Contract could have been revoked. Since Policy 8080 was not implemented, any social media page that was created that pertained to a school related activity was strictly against HCPSS policy. Can you believe that was a reality for the better part of the 21st century? A couple of students who were trying to complete their school work could have had their technology contract revoked … because they were using technology effectively.

I am thrilled that Policy 8080 exists, and I think that many students are grateful for the policy without even knowing it. From communication around snow days to upcoming events, it has provided a new communications tool for the whole HCPSS community. In the coming years, I look forward to seeing students and staff use social media as a collaboration tool—uploading and sharing files, or collaborating on ideas for projects. The possibilities are endless.

Social media is something that every teenager has a black belt in. Now, they are taking their education and they are positively reinforcing what they have learned on to social media. I am thrilled that the HCPSS is encouraging this behavior, because students who truly have an understanding of what they learned and are engaged in the classroom, can make ties with it in their real life. On a social media site, they can share their wealth of knowledge with anyone in the world.

It surely is a crazy time we live in, and I am excited to see where this takes us!