fredag den 31. januar 2014

Let social media vitalize education.

Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Instagram, Skype etc have become a part of my life, and what is more they have enriched and continue to enrich it. However for many people, not only of my generation, Social Media is still not really respectable, not to mention the fact that it could be dangerous.

Since the late1990's I have used the net on a daily basis; a combination of Internet and English was a boon for finding information and getting in touch with people. In 2005, after deciding to learn Esperanto by taking a series of on-line courses, I found that the troika of English, Esperanto and the social media rapidly expanded my international social network. Apart from giving me the opportunity of traveling more, visiting people, as well as welcoming visitors to my own home, it has also given me a vast spectrum of virtual friends all over the world. Most of these people I have never met and probably never will meet, but they are still part of my everyday life. Social media has given us the tools to talk about our hobbies, likes and dislikes, aspirations, fears and sometimes we give each other cultural insights about events at home that are often lacking in mainstream media reports.

A few days ago I had a request from my youngest Facebook friend, a lively fourteen year old boy from Katmandu, whose hobbies include singing, dancing, cooking and using his computer; Google translate and uploading videos to YouTube are child's play for him. As he wants to correspond with somebody of his own age in Denmark, I posted this information, in Danish, on my Facebook page, but only one person commented, saying that he felt he was too old to come into consideration.

Perhaps very few people noticed the status. Possibly some of those that did read it took fright, because I mentioned that in addition to English, he also speaks Esperanto. Or maybe they were alarmed, because they do not really feel comfortable with getting involved with complete strangers. They may pay lip-service to the adage: 'a stranger is a friend, I have not met yet', but in practice, they fight shy of the idea.
My memories of geography lessons are mainly of mile-long lists of rivers, islands, capital cities and mountains, whose names had to learn by heart. To pass a geography exam, you needed to know dry facts, for example, that the four main islands of Japan are Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu and that the capital city of Nepal is Katmandu. Neither the teacher nor the text book taught us very much about the customs or everyday lives of the Japanese or Nepalese that would have made the subject vital and interesting.

Nowadays geography could become every child's favorite subject, if teachers and parents taught children how to use social media intelligently. In the same way they could vitalize other subjects too.

Now if you think I am talking through my hat, please take note of the following article that appeared today on the BBC world homepage.

                      ''Social media transforms lessons

A school in Norway has taken an innovative approach to learning by equipping every student with a tablet and teaching English using social media.''

My friend in Nepal is waiting to meet somebody.He wants to chat, share knowledge, have fun and make friends.

Do you know anybody who would like to 'meet' my friend? If so please let me know.

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