Response to P. Tucker’s post “We need to talk about what we shouldn’t do”

Here is the comment I wrote on P. Tucker’s post disagreeing with a retweet I made on Twitter about Social Media.

I agree with you Mr. Tucker that there are many pitfalls not only for our students who are minors, but also us as teachers. Social media and its potential use in the classroom certainly would not be the controversial topic it is were it not fraught with possible missteps or misguided use.

I would add, however, that successful and meaningful use of SM in schools needs strong leadership (such as the kind provided by people such as @gcouros), clear and articulated pedagogical purpose, and, most of all, resiliency. There is no point in walking down the SM path if mistake making is not accepted as part and parcel in the process.

I would further suggest that, at least from my vista, the ‘shouldn’t do’ educating, at least in terms of lectures, posters, pamphlets, and other media, is not something that is scarce. In my original retweet, I was simply acknowledging the derth of mainstream discourse on ‘the power and potential’ of SM for networked learning.

I agree with you that it is somewhat naive to look upon a technology such as SM as neutral. The medium changes people and the world. No question.

Perhaps what we should really do is stop polarizing SM’s effects and purpose as BAD and GOOD. It’s much more complex than that. In particular, I doubt we are ever going to reach an entire generation of young people who use SM in their daily lives so long as our dominant voice is one of perpetual admonishment.



  1. Every medium (human voice included) shapes us while we shape it. That’s true of our tools, of our art, of our religion, of our television sets and our Twitter accounts. What’s important isn’t that we run away from those tools but that we make sense out of them and that we try recognize the changes taking place. Sometimes we reject a medium. Other times we embrace it.

    None of what I’m saying is new. I get that. And I’m convinced that you get it, too. The fact that you are such a deep thinker engaging in paradox and authenticity suggests that you understand that a medium isn’t neutral.

    Your original point is still well-taken. We don’t need more posters or lectures. We need compassionate students who are also critical thinkers. More importantly, we need to avoid running away from tech just because it can sometimes be “dangerous.”

    Bottom line: you’re a great thinker and a great teacher.

    1. I wonder why people assume that I am running away from tech or that I advocate its abandonment. The truth is, I use tech and social media tools quite liberally in my class and advocate the same. I just advocate learning enough about it first to understand it well; not just the button pushing, but the ramifications of button pushing as well. We should know its nature, dynamics and consequences. Its limits if you will; the things we should not do. We used to call this deep understanding. I think we should know what we are running to, not that we should run away.

      How do you intend to develop “students who are also critical thinkers,” if you avoid, or misrepresent discussions with some element of descent? Though my interactions with Royan Lee have only been through Twitter and somewhat more tentative then I would like, I see him much the same way you do…he seems to have taken my post much less personally then you have.

      Id welcome any follow up comments here or on my own blog should you wish to.

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