Academic Writing on Social Media


To Be Or Not To Be:
Using Social Media in Teaching
In 1976, the year I was born, two college dropouts, Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs, designed and built the first personal computer in a garage at their home.  The World Wide Web was first developed by a British software engineer Tim Berners-Lee in 1989 (Johnson 2010).  Nowadays, we have almost 2.1 billion Internet users as figure show below: (Miniwatts Marketing Group, 2011).  Furthermore, the World Wide Web is free with open access to almost anyone, anywhere.  In other words, the internet is an open context, which is available 24/7/365 (Bonk, 2011).
Likewise, social media is free and convenient, and millions of students and teachers are using it. I am a “technology immigrant”, but the internet and social media  are such hot commodities in education.  I debated whether or not I should use social media in my teaching.  Before I enrolled in this class at Drexel University, I had very limited experience with social media and open context.  But eight weeks into the course, I developed a broader perspective about technology in education. After I finished reading and listening to Bonk (2009), Kurzweil (2005), and Network models of the diffusion of innovations by Dr. Thomas Valente (1996), I thought to myself, “I need to be proactive in this educational practice.”  As Stephen Covey (2004) stated, “Be proactive” is the first of seven habits of an effective leader.   The positive energy that I garnered from the executive meetings during the lectures and discussions has motivated me to find new ways to utilize our technology.
Potential Impact
What surprised me the most is the work of Ray Kurzweil in The Singularity Is Near (2005). The future is so distant, yet it is so near. We are making material progress and achieving the heights of knowledge.  It is very likely due to the ongoing acceleration of technological developments  that our standard of living will evolve substantially,  since evolutionary growth proceeds exponentially (Kurzweil, 2005).  It is very difficult for me to think about and imagine the future technological world.  Yet the insight and wisdom of Kurzweil has enlightened me.  As he concludes: “Our ability to create models--virtual realities--in our brains, combined with our modest-looking thumbs, has been sufficient to usher in another form of evolution: technology” (p. 487).
Due to my better understanding of technology’s roles in our society today and in the future, I set up a Twitter account for the first time and I reactivated my Facebook account. I am starting to use them more often.  For the coming school year, I plan to actively use social media as an educational tool.  Not only I am going to use it to communicate with my students, but I will also use it as a formative assessment.  Formative assessment is a reflective process that helps educators to adjust their teaching strategies as well as promote student attainment and help students refine their own learning.  Using social media can be a great tool to support  our students to learn more effectively and efficiently.
Bonk, C. (2009). The World is Open: How Web Technology is Revolutionizing Education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Covey, S. (2004). The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness. New York: Free Press.
Kurzweil, R. (2005). The Singularity Is Near. New York: Penguin Group.
Miniwatts Marketing Group (2011), World Internet Users and Population Stats. Retrieved from
Valente, T. W. (1996). Network models of the diffusion of innovations. Computational & Mathematical Organization Theory, 2(2), 163-164.

Why Ipads Should Be Used in Public Schools:
The Foundation and Vision for the 21st Century Technology in Public School

Imagine the first day of school at Mira Loma High School, which was built in 1960. A young teenage boy with an overloaded backpack walks down an overcrowded hall and bumps into another student. Books and supplies fly everywhere and the mayhem begins.  Imagine in the same scenario, a teenage girl holding her iPad2 walks down the hall with her headphones in her ears, listening to a Lady Gaga music video. All eyes would look at her and everyone would say, “That is awesome.”  Education can be cool when iPads are used  as digital textbooks, a personal library, an entertainment hub, and a personal student assistant.
On a similar note, here is a more personal story. During the summer, I decided to take a job where I could give something back to the community, helping others while earning a few dollars for a summer vacation. That job was teaching refugees, mostly Iraqis and Nepalese, who have immigrated to the United States of America less than a year ago. As a refugee myself, I am sympathetic and understanding of the  struggles and needs of refugees.  I thought that my experience learning English could be a helpful tool for teaching them as well. But as it turned out, our society is so technologically advanced compared to 20 years ago when I arrived in the United States.  When I studied English, I used post-it notes and wrote on them: “This is a girl, That is a boy, etc.” That was how I learned English.  Nowadays, we are using Ipads to teach refugees, which is truly fascinating. Ipads can be an amazing and exciting tool in our education system.  People learn in multiple ways – some by reading, some by hearing, and some by seeing.  The iPad as a  tool enhances the teacher’s method of communicating more effectively, and increases the students’ range of learning.

The Background and Evolution of iPads
The history of Ipads is a continuation of Apple's development of tablet computers.  Their first tablet computer, was developed but not introduced to the market.  Later, Apple released different models of PDAs, but discontinued its last version in 1998.  In 2007, Apple returned to the mobile-computing market and has had great success with iPhones and almost three years later, Apple announced the arrival of the first  iPad in April 2010.  According to the Apple’s website (2011), within the first 80 days three million iPads were sold.
iPads Applications
   As Nutting, Wooldridge, & Mark (2010) pointed out, “Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re well aware that the new darling in Apple’s product line is the iPad, a thin, touch screen table that aims to revolutionize mobile computing and portable media consumption.” It is convenient, can be used as a GPS, an iPod, a digital library, and many other applications.
 In our refugee classrooms, my co-worker Armando and I explored and used many different apps. The students got hooked on learning with the iPads.  From read-aloud texts to coloring books, these resources are basic and vital resources for newcomers. We used the following apps: Wikipanion; Grammar Up, Translate This, Speak it, Newsy, iQuestion, ABC Writing, Doodle Buddy, iSentence, vBookz, TimeReading, Vocabulary, Sight Words, and BrainPOP.  Some of the digital tools we used are: YouTube, video, games center, iBooks, and AudioBooks. Other students explored exciting iPad apps, such as iAnnotate PDF, ReelDirector, Writing Pad, Pages, and QuickOffice.  Our curriculum changed to accommodate iPad activities.  Students were curious and enthusiastically engaged in different activities.   
Additionally, Nutting et al. (2010) stated that “many presentations created on Macs or Windows computers work perfectly when transferred to the iPad….[The iPad] has education apps and videos range in topics from farming to astro-dynamics and range from content for kindergartners to graduate students.”  In other words, they argued “iTunes University is the perfect destination for anyone who desires to further their knowledge.”

The Future of Pads in Education
More than ever, life is more convenient, increasingly beautiful and full of magic thanks to these technological innovations.  Possibilities seem endless, including people getting closer over distances, using FaceTime.  iPads could be used as digital textbooks in the very near future.  Alan Hess (2001) asked such basic questions as “Can the iPad be used as an educational tool?  Apple believes that it can.  Is this practical? Can teachers and students use the iPad for educational purposes, or is it just a big toy? Well, I believe wholeheartedly that the iPad can be an invaluable tool for high school and college education, and it can be used to enhance education at all levels” (p. 269). Overall, with the development of software and apps, the future of iPads in education is very near and realistic.

Advantages and Disadvantages of iPads in Education
Vineet Madan (2011), Vice President of McGraw-Hill Higher Education eLabs, offered six reasons why iPads and other tablets should be implemented in the our classrooms.  First, tablets are the best way to show textbooks. Second, classrooms are ready for tablets.  Third, tablets fit students’ lifestyles. Fourth, tablets have the software to be competitive. Fifth, tablets integrate with education IT trends. Last, tablets are becoming more available.
His argument is based on the iPad pilot program at Reed College that tested the Kindle DX e-readers. That device was considered a failure for use in classrooms. The report found that, in contrast, “the iPad's responsive and smooth scrolling touch screen made it ideal for reading content in the classroom. Navigation among passages was quick and easy. The highlighting and annotation of text was also easy, with many students choosing to highlight text on the iPad over traditional pen and paper.” There are other good arguments for using the iPads. According to Mark Crump (2010) “the iPad is going to succeed in education marvelously for students and teachers.” He gave many advantages  and a few cons.  Here are the advantages over other e-tablets: “1) Good battery life and light weight, 2) “Bag of Holding” for class materials, 3) Easy to do work in the library, 4) No laptop stigma, and 5) Single-tasking may let one focus better” while one of the main arguments against using the iPad is: “No full-size keyboard (speculation).”  Sande et al. (2010) argued that you can use “the iPad as a travel computer or a remote to your computer desktop via iTeleport apps.” Furthermore, this new technology also has the ability to allow users to adjust text size and screen brightness, which  aids  those with vision challenges.
     Based on personal experience, iPads can be a distraction to students and lead them off-task.  For example, whenever I was not watching them closely, students tended to use their iPads for entertainment purposes.  Believe it or not, sometimes students are more interested in watching videos on YouTube than learning.  Therefore, lesson plans must be structured and classroom management well-executed in order for iPads to work effectively.  One of the techniques I learned from a colleague is “Tech-off and Tech-on Time,” (Tech-off is when every student put the keyboards upside down and not use their computers and Tech-on is when they can use them), which offers some great opportunities for direct instruction and collaborations among students.
Bonk (2009) explains, “collaborative tools bring ideas, talents, resources, networks, and products together for sharing and innovation” (p. 524.) He continues that use of technology such as iPads “for global knowledge sharing includes massive online libraries of searchable and reusable data, vast numbers of online courses, and online portals of digital information.  And there are innovative and far less expensive tools for collaboration than what was available a decade or two ago.  The convergence of these factors allows for greater human participation, interaction, and knowledge sharing” (p. 249-252.)
Just five years ago, education is facing a significant financial challenge.  In every school and district in California budgets have been reduced substantially each year.  Financial resources are limited and funding is low for all schools. Many programs are being eliminated.  Music, languages, and art are just a few casualties of this difficult financial time.  Students have limited options to choose their elective classes.  Unfortunately, schools and districts do not have the money to buy iPads for each student or classroom to implement this clever new technology in our classroom yet.  However, each district, as required by the federal government, must still have money to buy textbooks.  Buying iPads as a form of alternative textbooks is a golden opportunity. Districts can also collaborate with other organizations to locate funding for a greater sustainable change.

Apple Sells Three Million iPads in 80 Days". (2010, June 22). Retrieved from
Bonk, C. (2009). The World is Open: How Web Technology is Revolutionizing Education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass
Guy, Retta (2009). The Evolution of Mobile Teaching and Learning. Santa Rosa, CA: Informing Science Press.
Hess, A., (2011). IPad 2 Fully Loaded. Indianapolis: Wiley Publishing, Inc.
Madan, V. (2011). 6 Reasons Tablets Are Ready for the Classroom, Mashable.
Nutting, J., Wooldridge, D., & Mark, D. (2010). Beginning IPad Development for IPhone Developers: Mastering the IPad SDK. New York: APress.
Sande, S., Sadun, E., Grothaus, M., (2010). Taking Your IPad to the Max. Google eBook.
6 Reasons Tablets Are Ready for the Classroom (n.d.) Mashable. Retrieved from

Global Kids – Youth Leaders for 21st Century:
A Case Study of an Innovative Approach in New York Public Schools

Background/History of the Technology
Used in the Project
When I was a child, I believed that children were the future leaders of our society.  Discovering Global Kids, Inc.  reassured me that this viewpoint is still valid. Global Kids, Inc. was founded by award-winning educator Carole Artigiani in 1989, although it  didn’t incorporate until 1991. She was its executive director from its incorporation  until August of 2010. According to its website, the primary mission of Global Kids is to develop youth leaders for the global stage through dynamic global education and leadership development programs.  “Global Kids inspires underserved youth to achieve academic excellence, self-actualization and global competency, and empowers them to take action on critical issues facing their communities and our world.”  One of its successful programs  is the implementation of the Digital Media for 21st Century Skills via Online Leadership Program (OLP), which “integrates international and public policy issues into digital media programs to encourage digital literacy and technical competency, foster global awareness, promote civic participation and develop 21st Century skills.” (
Applications of the Technology
Global Kids takes advantage of open web content to introduce best practices over the school year. In its OLP programs, high school students learn how to communicate and express their perspectives and opinions regarding domestic and global issues.  Students effectively use online games, virtual worlds, and social media to promote their ideas. The students invent Games for Change and conduct public programs via the virtual world of Teen Second Life.  Furthermore, they document and share with others, including their peers, educators, and researchers all over the world. “At the same time, digital media is used as a tool for alternative assessments practices, using digital portfolios and game-like badges to document and motivate interest-driven learning,” the website added. (
Potential Impacts of the Technology

The idea that we need to “share the wealth” is vital for a sustainable change in our world.  This is analogous to our planetary food resources:  we don’t have a problem with food shortage; we do have a problem with food distribution.  In education, the openness and willingness to share professional curriculum development with others via “open context” is commendable.  As a case in point, the goals  of Global Kids are achievable and encouraging. Those who have used this program have a higher than 90% high school graduation rate despite the challenges youth face in underserved communities like inner city urban neighborhoods. The video on its website also mentioned that close to 90% of participants go on to attend college and many earn scholarships.  Furthermore, some Global Kids alumni become civic leaders, champions of social justice and successful professionals in our society.  Some continue to advocate for social action and global engagement.   

Pros and Cons of the Technology and Approach
Global Kids has year-round programs online, in schools, and at their headquarters, which means it is available to help more students. It serves thousands of middle school and high school students in inner city neighborhoods.  It is a modeled program for many others around the world.   It also provides capacity building services and professional development services for youth leaders, educators, and institutions for New York City’s Department of Education and Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD), New York Public Libraries, and other institutions serving youth.  The topics that Global Kids provides include global citizenship, youth development, conflict resolution, facilitation, digital/games-based learning, bias awareness, and more.
Implications for Leadership Decision-making
The essence of Wagner’s (2008) argument is that today, in the 21st Century, our students and teens must have these seven survival skills: 1) Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving; 2) Collaboration across Networks and Leading by Influence; 3) Agility and Adaptability; 4) Initiative and Entrepreneurialism; 5) Effective Oral and Written Communication; 6) Accessing and Analyzing Information; and 7) Curiosity and Imagination.  Carole Artigiani realized the importance of these sills  and transformed her thinking into action. Today, as Artigiani put it: “Global Kids has worked with more than 120,000 students and educators in New York City and beyond, receiving national recognition for exemplary practices in international education, digital media programming, experiential learning, and youth development. Our work is enhanced by our strong partnerships.”

“2010 GK - Developing youth leaders for the global stage.” (2011, July 22). Retrieved from

Friedman, T. (2007). The world is flat: the globalized world in the twenty-first century. New York: Penguin.

Wagner, T. (2008). The global achievement gap: why even our best schools don't teach the new survival skills our children need – and what we can do about it. New York: Perseus Books Group.

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