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Creativity Resurrected: Social Media in Education

At a recent conference in the desert known as Las Vegas, I was fortunate enough to hear the words of a fantastic mind and brilliant speaker, Sir Ken Robinson. I have to admit, keynote speakers are sometimes my least favorite part of any gathering. As a “Gen Y” I much prefer a dialogue and interactivity over sitting still and listening only. However, Sir Ken had me hooked from moment one. His bio and TED talks should show you why.

During his moments on stage, Sir Ken elaborated beautifully on some of his ideas regarding education in America. No surprise here: he’s concerned that the system is failing.  One of the points during his talk was that education often inadvertently squashes creativity, a critical element of humanity that has helped us survive and reinvent ourselves throughout history. As an educator myself, this was cause for pause.  How can I be a part of education’s shift back to cultivating innovative thinking, doing, and being? Turning inward, I reflected on characteristics of creative climates I have experienced thus far. Two traits emerged: highly collaborative and boundary-less. Thinking as an educator, I added a caveat: needs to operate on a “low to no” budget. So, I need to create opportunities to collaborate, without boundaries, at almost no cost.  Well, it should come as no surprise that my mind went immediately to social media. Let’s break down that sentence and put some social in it.

1.) Opportunities to collaborate…

hangouts-2307102

Google+ Hangouts are a fantastic example of social media providing ways to collaborate.

Where in social media are there such spaces?  Plenty.  Immediately, I think of Google+ Hangouts for synchronous video conversations with screen sharing capabilities, Twitter tweetchats to gather people in a live discussion, LinkedIn & Facebook groups for asynchronous conversations, and even a co-authored blog (this one is fine example if I do say so myself).

2.) … without boundaries…
Social media is famous for being boundary-less.  I can think of numerous examples myself, but here’s a quick story outside of higher ed that I really just love, first for the connection made and second for the topic: Greek culture (and food).  A friend was recently telling me about a Greek Festival she was helping plan locally in New Jersey.  One of her big pushes was to get this festival on social media, namely Twitter.  “How much could a Greek Festival say about itself on Twitter?” you wonder.  Well, 3 Greek Sisters from Canada found the festival quite interesting, and, with a recently published Greek cookbook they’re hoping to sell in the American market, they found the festival on Twitter and are now flying in for the event to give live cooking demos.  Believe it.

greek-festival-1403736

Here’s the official Twitter bio from the Twitter homepage of the Opa Greek Festival.

greek-sisters1-5536597

And here are the tweets from the 3 Greek Sisters talking about their upcoming events, including a stop at the Opa Greek Festival. The connection was made all via Twitter.

3.) …at almost no cost.
Google+ Hangouts?  Free.  LinkedIn groups?  Free.  Facebook groups?  Free.  Twitter tweetchats?  Free.  I could go on, but you’re getting the picture.

To me, it’s clear.  Social media has the power to resurrect creativity in education, higher education, and really everywhere.  How are you harnessing its power in your life and work?  Give us goosebumps and tell us in the comments.

By Kevin

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