A few months ago, a friend of mine posted on Facebook that he was going to close his account. I promptly messaged him to ask why, as this is the only way that I keep in touch with him. He responded that it is a complete waste of time and that he spends too much time on Facebook when he could be doing other more worthwhile things. I get his point. I even think that there are good reasons to not be on Facebook. However, I use Facebook and post on it regularly although I don’t spend much time on the actual site or in the app. My twitter account posts to Facebook, and my blogs post to Facebook, so I appear more active “on” Facebook than I actually am. I learn things on Facebook all the time. Sure, I comment on pictures that my friends post and engage in discussions about lifestyle or other mundane topics. However, I’m also part of a personal computer club group, I follow a workout blog, I discuss the use of social media in schools with other colleagues, I read news stories of interests that my friends share in their feeds, I get recipe suggestions from friends, etc.
Social isn’t the antithesis of learning. In fact, learning is a very social activity. When I post an observation, an article, a video, etc. on Facebook, I’m hoping for dialogue, for conversation, for co-creation of understanding with my “friends”. The process of engagement, having friends support me and challenge me strengthens my own understanding of situations and concepts. I propose a paradigm shift, a mental shift where social networks and social media become part of learning, integrated into learning. They’re not illicit activities that people only do to waste time. Sure, one can waste a lot of time online but what if we removed the artificial disconnect between social and learning? What if we start creating environments and opportunities for social to be learning. I think that that would be a step in the right direction rather than continuing to support the current tensions between social media/networks and learning.