Social media savvy: The new digital divide?

As a result, “we need to emphasize and teach explicitly … how to share, how to engage [and] collaborate, [and] how to network [online],” Maiers wrote. “It matters!”

It’s no longer just what content you contribute that is important, she added, but “who you are—your character, your intention, your motivation that becomes important. … If you contribute content to the web, but don’t act socially responsible—if you’re not nice in the sandbox—your content won’t spread.”

That observation led Maiers to propose a new rule that every student should learn: “YOU ARE WHAT YOU SHARE!”

Educators should spend time helping students build their “SQ,” or social intelligence quotient, she said, because “social intelligence impacts how data is moved, organized, [and] ranked. … Your content, no matter how good you think it is, will be judged by [the online] community—[and] the velocity it spreads [and the] impact it has depends on SQ.”

That means students must learn not only how to post content online, but also how to engage others politely in two-way conversations about their content. “Content without reciprocal conversation will not spread,” Maiers said, adding: “Success on the social web is a choice. You choose irrelevancy when you don’t participate, play nice, [or] honor your community.”

Newman noted that “everything that you do online is the same … as in the real world. Think about the footprints you want to leave.”

“Very well said!” chimed in participant James Gubbins. “I have a seven-second rule before I click the ‘post’ button on any network.”

“My advice: Be careful with comments on blogs as well,” wrote Jure Klepic, who goes by the Twitter handle “jkcallas.” In response to a reader’s question about what to do when others attack you online, he said: “Kindness and politeness always kills … arrogance and rudeness! Send them love and they will go away.”

Reader Melissa Shur, who goes by the Twitter handle “uwlalum,” asked chat participants at what age they thought students should learn these important lessons. “Parents get nervous when they hear ‘social networking’ used in class,” she noted.

“I think we need to embrace teaching proper social citizenship early,” Newman wrote. “Knowledge is power, right?”

“I think, since some kids have a digital footprint before they are born, it should be as early as possible,” agreed reader Shari Sentlowitz.

“It starts with learning to be a good human being,” Newman added. “Take that online and you will succeed.”

Shur noted that, while students are very comfortable online, many parents are not. “How do we help parents become comfortable with [social media] and with students using it?” she asked.

eSchool News Staff

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