Social media impacts education

Posted July 26, 2013 at 11:17 am

BABBLING BROOKS column–Express Editor Kim Brooks

I like to read, whether it’s an actual newspaper or a magazine. I read articles online at CNN, NBC News and more. I’ve started reading so many books I can’t seem to put them down.

Two articles I read online recently sparked my interest. I wouldn’t necessarily call them “news,” but they were interesting none-the-less.

Do you ever catch yourself testing someone or updating your Facebook or Twitter status using shorthand? For instance: “How R U?” “Tanx” or “Thanx.”

I do it all the time. If I text our sports editor Pete Temple regarding something work-related, I always use shorthand. However, Pete’s reply text is always prime and proper. That may stem from marrying a teacher, who knows.

ABC News recently interviewed several teachers from across the country to get their opinions on students’ writing abilities. The majority of those they polled all thought that allowing their students to converse on social media made them better writers.

One teacher, and English teacher in Texas, said she notices that her students’ writing improves when they know their work will be shared on social media sites. She said they share their work on blogs with the rest of the Internet universe.

A Pew Research Center study found that 78 percent of high school teachers agree that digital technology encourages student creativity. Teachers commented that once their students know their own work will be out there for the public to read and critique, they take more time to compose their work.

These same teachers said they’re noticing that students are getting away from shorthand conversations on social media as well. I would have thought just the opposite. When I’m composing an e-mail to someone, I catch myself typing shorthand. An e-mail should always be professional. It gives others an impression of you, whether good or bad.

So why does it matter on Facebook? Personally, I try not to use shorthand online.

When students use Facebook or Twitter to express themselves, teachers seem to think it gets their minds going and thoughts start to flow. It boosts their creative thinking. Could be…

Another facet to this same article dealt with composing a paper for a class on the computer (using Word, for example) or handwriting the paper. These same teachers, 94 percent to be exact, encourage their classes to write by hand versus typing a paper.

Now I haven’t been in school for 10 years or so, but do kids still write in cursive? Do kids even know how to read cursive anymore? To be honest, I don’t think I could write cursive if my life depended upon it.

During the recent controversial Florida trial involving George Zimmerman, the man accused of killing teenager Trayvon Martin, attorneys questioned a 19-year-old gal associated with Martin. They asked her about a letter she may have written to him. The gal told the lawyers that she couldn’t have written the letter because she can’t read cursive.

One teacher was quoted as saying, “For kids who have grown up texting and instant messaging, it is pretty engrained. It is something you have to keep reminding and keep looking at.”