Just imagine what we could teach our 21st Century students and ourselves if, together with students, we organized social media weeks (or days) with presentations, demonstrations, and talks about all aspects of social networking — what’s good, what’s not so good, and what can be done with social media to make our lives better?
More importantly, what if in the process, we educators and some of our social-media-savvy parents demonstrated to students that we understand the role that social media plays in all of our lives while also emphasizing the need to manage and curate our profiles?
Social Media Weeks seek to do just that. The mission of social media week events is to promote a discussion about our always-connected lives, examining how things have changed, how to make the world a better place, and perhaps most importantly, how to learn from our mistakes. Online conferences, offline events, lectures, and dialogues are scheduled during four official social media weeks, held in major cities around the world.
And then there is the Social Media Week celebration at the University of Cincinnati (UC), scheduled to take place during one of the 2015 official weeks, February 23-27.
If you check out the social media week calendar site at UC, it’s filled with events — offered by students, professors, and outside experts — such as Who Gives a Tweet?, Social Media Basics, The Impact of Social Media on Your Job Search, and Influence in 140 Characters. The university is also sponsoring Insta-tours for visiting student-applicants during the week, and a panel with CEOs talking about their businesses and social media. There’s much more going on during the UC’s week, including an emphasis on social media and sports, the opportunity to share social media posts and images, and the opportunity to review and look over the university’s existing social media policies (all conveniently posted on the UC Social Media Week website, right along with the events).
A social media event — for a day or two or a week — strikes me as a win-win situation for everyone. UC students, many of whom use social media all of the time, get to learn more about effective social media strategies as well as connect their online profiles with events (like job searches) that will influence the rest of their lives. Faculty members get an opportunity to learn a lot more about social media, the role it plays in student lives, and how it can become a learning tool. Moreover, with more knowledge comes better understanding — for everyone — of the power of social media, and perhaps the University of Cincinnati will not need to worry as much about public and potentially embarrassing mistakes in the lives of students. Finally, through the social media week activities, the UC and its students develop connections with business and leaders beyond the university community.
I can picture these activities in schools and school districts around the country — events where everyone learns, shares, and then learns some more.