Social media and teachers
MINI CRITIQUE - Isagani Cruz (The Philippine Star) - February 13, 2014 - 12:00am

I love teasing my real friends, as well as teachers that attend my public lectures, with this provocative statement, delivered deadpan: “If you are not on Facebook, you don’t exist.”

There is some truth, however, behind that tongue-in-cheek statement.

The truth can be found in a pedagogical dictum first articulated by Ignatius of Loyola. If you are a teacher, he said, you must “enter through their door but be sure to leave through your door.”

You cannot be an effective teacher if you do not know where your students are coming from. You cannot know where your students are coming from if you have no idea about the world they live in. And the world students live in, whether teachers like it or not, is social media.

In the past, so the joke goes, when students sat down for a meal, they first prayed. Nowadays, they take a photo of what they are about to eat and post it on Facebook, Google Plus, or Instagram.

In the past, when students wanted to know the news, they read a newspaper or turned on a radio or television set. Nowadays, they just open Twitter.

In the past, when students wanted to find a job, they looked at classified ads or went to employment agencies. Nowadays, they just upload their credentials on LinkedIn.

In the past, when students wanted to find material on some topic, they went to a library, checked the card catalogue, read books or periodicals, made copious notes, and used shoeboxes to put order into their notecards. Nowadays, they use Pinterest.

In the past, when students wanted to keep memories, they took photographs with a camera, had them developed, and put them into albums or scrapbooks. Nowadays, they use Flickr.

In the past, when students wanted to keep a record of what happened to them or what they wished had happened to them, they wrote entries in diaries that they kept out of sight. Nowadays, they post anything that happens to them in Tumblr.

Actually, any of the social media sites can do most of these activities simultaneously and with very little effort on the part of the user.

Most adults (who are technically called “digital immigrants”) use mobile phones as phones (whether for voice calls or for texting). Students use mobile phones as calculators, calendars, cameras, video recorders, voice recorders, Web browsers, and most especially, as social media tools.

What students are eating, how they are feeling, why they are fighting with their loved ones, even what their schedules are for the day are posted, twitted, or blogged.

Of course, not everything is trivial. Revolutions have been launched using social media. Rescues during disasters have been coordinated using social media. Reputations have been ruined, public indignation has been expressed, major government policy changes have been caused – all by social media. Sometimes (not often), deep intellectual discussions even occur on social media.

The challenge facing teachers today is how to use social media as major teaching and learning tools.

It’s not a matter of “if you can’t lick ‘em, join ‘em.” It’s a matter of entering through their door and leaving through yours.

Start with the photograph of their most recent meal and end with an appreciation of Juan Luna. Start with their tweet to their sweetheart and end with a critical essay on Nick Joaquin. Start with an image on Flickr and end with an application of the special theory of relativity. That is the challenge.

NEW WEBSITE: I just put up a website containing or linking key documents related to the ongoing reform of our educational system. When I give a public lecture, the audience usually asks if they can get a copy of my slide presentation. I will also post on this website what would normally be given as handouts after my talks. This way, I save paper and trees. The address is:

CONGRATULATIONS to the winners of the Award for Continuing Excellence and Service (ACES) given by the Metrobank Foundation, namely:

Manuel C. Belino, Salvador S. Buenaobra Jr., Harold M. Cabunoc, Dionardo B. Carlos, Salvador J. Ching, Alfred S. Corpus, Gilberto DC. Cruz, Antonio Miguel L. Dans, Julius Anthony M. Del Castillo, Lope C. Dagoy, Ferdinand R. Doctolero, Benigno B. Durana Jr., Raquel Del Rosario-Fortun, Eveleth C. Gamboa, Juan Sajid D. Imao, Joselito E. Kakilala, Irma R. Makalinao, Reynaldo Z. Medina Jr., Jesus C. Millan, Jan Leeroy New, Eric E. Noble, Ambeth R. Ocampo, Dina Joana S. Ocampo, Louie T. Oppus, Romeo DV. Poquiz, Caesar A. Saloma, Renato M. Sorolla, Jose Renan C. Suarez, Romeo T. Tanalgo, and Noemi G. Tangonan.

KUDOS to the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), which continuously provides financial assistance to hospitals in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Recently, for example, under its Institutional Financial Assistance Program (IFAP), PCSO granted Dr. Serapio B. Montaner Al Haj Memorial Hospital in Lanao del Sur, ARMM, an Endowment Fund for Medicines for the hospital’s charity patients.               

“We really want to reach the farthest and most remote areas of the country,” says Chair Margie Juico. “This is what PCSO is for. We serve the poorest of our kababayans so that they, too, will be blessed and have hope for a brighter future.”

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