EDUCATING THE #BRANDofME GENERATION
An Assembly Gone Awry
Read the full Assembly Audio Transcript - here.
Savvy educators know connecting with their students means adopting the social tools connecting Gen Z: Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and YouTube. But what happens when neophyte teachers try to “go social” at a school assembly? Well, you could say “the force awakens.”
(Note: because of the age of the students, we have changed the names to protect the “innocent” and have blurred out the faces of some of the key players.)
The teachers just wanted the annual assembly of back-to-school policies to be more social, to keep the students – and perhaps even themselves – engaged while reviewing what can seem like an ever-increasing list of school rules.
Live tweeting? Sounded like music to their ears.
Until the assembly took off.....
The students file into the auditorium. A screen is set up, a Twitter hashtag assigned for the assembly. That familiar little blue birdie is projected behind the heads of the courageous educators, eager for their idea to take flight!
The students settle. Their phones are out, ready to tweet. The teachers step into the social media abyss.
Some students use it to interact with the presentation. Others are just having fun. But at least they appear to be engaged…
…until a devious, two-word tweet appears on the screen…
“Stalk me:” the equivalent of inviting everyone you’ve ever met to a giant house party – except this one is virtual with a real-life digital celebrity in attendance! One of the students is a celebrity YouTuber, and he tweets the assembly hashtag to his 70,000 mostly female followers!
The #Assembly Twitter feed becomes a rogue, torrid spree of #Fangirl tweets. Dozens roll by on the giant screen.
Not exactly the discussion of rules and policies the teachers wanted!
Potential damsels in distress have taken over the Wild West Twittersphere! Some students respond begging for order, desperately trying to wrangle in the crowd.
Their pleas go unheeded. The tweets keep coming in and appearing on the screen.
And the teachers? Those brave souls committed to connecting with their students using social media? They are clueless about how to lasso the chaotic virtual assembly. So they resort to their only option – they shut ‘er down.
One year later, students and teachers reflected on the assembly and shared their story with the kidsmediacentre:
What place should social media have in schools? Are educators digitally savvy enough for it, or are they forever relegated to an analogue existence? Is the new normal having famous YouTubers hijack ed-tech? Given the number of young people using these tools, teachers should probably get on board. Perhaps next time, however, they can leverage their students’ digital smarts to help mediate this brave new world.