Education in the 21st Century simply has to be transparent. Given the immediate accessibility of information, interactive technologies, and a vast array of customized media, consumers expect to be able to access any kind of information at any given time. Parents and students want to be “in the know” in ways that they haven’t in the past. When I was in school and didn’t really know much about the teacher in the next grade level, I had to wait for August to roll around to see if she or he was really as strict and hard or as sweet and nice as everyone said. Now, we can simply follow that teacher’s blog or Twitter feed to get to know his or her educational philosophies and values.
At its best, this level of transparency can (and should) build the critical, trust-filled relationships that are at the center of our school’s mission for teaching and learning. Rooted in the transparent partnership among Family, School, and Church, our unique mission touches upon a significant aspect of learning in the 21st Century—collaboration through connectedness.
In today’s connected world, this collaboration can take place in many forms: good old-fashioned face-to-face conversations among colleagues or classmates or when those same colleagues and classmates share via the World Wide Web. The powerful potential of social media can connect people and (in our case) institutions so that they can relate in productive and purposeful ways. This same sort of connection is at the heart of our mission at PS, so we have to resist the temptation of seeing the Internet, blogs, and Twitter simply as forms of “technology.” Instead, we need to see how using these media properly can literally connect Family, School, and Church with the world in the education and support of each child.
We have very carefully and strategically developed institutional presences in social media through Facebook and Pinterest as a way not only of staying connected with the widest array of “followers,” but also for the purpose of sharing who we are today and whom we hope to become in this revolutionary era of 21st Century education.
Moreover, we’ve found that social media used for advancing the School’s mission and presence can accentuate individual passion and institutional direction. If we are going to transform education so that it’s truly built to last deep into the 21st Century, that transformation will occur because we have connected the passions and interests of energetic learners and dedicated teachers. By utilizing the Internet, blogs, Wikis, Twitter, and the like, we have the opportunity not only to connect with people of different ideas and backgrounds, but to people with similar interests—all as we seek to advance our particular view of integrated and interesting learning.
For a powerful discussion of this phenomenon, take a look at this TED Talk by Chris Anderson as he discusses how people with similar interests can connect to create innovation in new areas. While his lens is that of the development of dance, it’s easy to extrapolate similar impacts in the world of education.
Part of this week’s Highlight is to inform you about the School’s efforts to be more broadly and deeply connected with all of our constituencies. Another (and, perhaps, more important) part is to invite you to be moreconnected with us as we develop our social media presence and advance our mission into the 21st Century.