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EdChat and the Information-scarce Society

A post over at MPB Reflections, 21st Century Teaching and Learning sparked some of my thoughts and observations from recent EdChats on Twitter. Michelle's post is one of those blog postings that gives you everything – context, content, and thought. The thoughts at work in the post deal with the dichotomy of social media interacting with staid teaching practices. The quote that stood out for me was:

Pulliam identified the lecture as a "discredited teaching method" in the 1960s.  Consider the head spinning rate of information production today — my own blog and tweets serving as perfect examples — and the fact that this perpetuating flow of content is now available through laptops and smartphones in the pocket of a growing percentage of the world.  Yet we're still educating our college students through a medieval teaching method that "makes sense" in an information-scarce society.

We no longer live in an information-scarce, but we're sure teaching like it. As the Smithsonian Magazine so succinctly states, we are reading in new ways. We are no longer a people of the book; we are the people of the screen. But then some of the recent discussions on #EdChat came to mind. Specifically whenever the topic of social media, a complimentary tool for our information-rich society, arises. Often an outraged educator will post something like

Not teaching social media is NOT a travesty. Not teaching <insert name of a fact from a personally beloved content area here> is a travesty! 

Or something along those lines. But we are all in this together as a society. Our society is changing due to the communication tools it has now. We need to develop ways to responsibly bring the learning to all stakeholders; parents, community, students, and educators. Given the vast array of knowledge accessible via the internet teachers simply can no longer compete as being the sole source of factual knowledge in a classroom. My question is why is the discussion so often framed in a binary manner? Why am I encountering such a dialogue while using social media to discuss education? Does the use of social media immediately preclude the use of factual knowledge? 

It's not wrong to have an aspect of life or area of study that we love almost unto excess. For many educators that passion is irrevocably bonded to a love of learning, it's what got us into education. But no one can be the font of knowledge as though it's an information-scarce society; we're too interconnected. There are many variations of the saying (often attributed to David Thornburg) "Any teacher that thinks they can be replaced by a computer should". The same might be said about social media in education. I would rather help my students learn to read the world around them and find their passion in it. Maybe I'll learn something from them and as we come to an understanding together about content. 
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