For weeks, I’ve been simultaneously excited and full of dread for my first social media class with our tenth graders. Conceived of as an online class, we needed to have an in-person session to get some of the ground rules for this completely-online class. For now, it will be a case study in how social media has been used to cover world events, as there were certainly enough powerful examples in just the last year. When news starts breaking, we’ll be there, too, examining why certain details make the cut and some don’t and what the most effective ways of breaking news are.


Aside from the griping I expected about having to take part in webinars outside of school hours, I was struck by how unimportant, for lack of a better word, some students thought social media was. I asked the class what it meant to be social online and got the answers I expected: Facebook, BBM, Twitter, blogs. But those are tools, not ideas. We had to look at what it meant to NOT be online, and thanks to our awesome librarian, I had just the conversation starter:


NPR: University Declares A Week Without Social Media.


If we couldn’t agree about what it meant to be social online — I agreed with their tools but wanted to see them start to connect the dots — then maybe we could start to agree about what it would mean to NOT be online. And agree we did: it would be catastrophic. Being online has become too much a part of how we do business — and schooling, playing, and just BEing. Not being connected would be a big deal.


So we’re looking into that more, contemplating what it means to not be social online in order to figure out what it means to contribute online. I’m thinking of asking them all to unplug from social media for a day next week, and I’m pretty sure they’ll be surprised at just how connected they are. At that point, we can start looking at what it means to contribute meaningfully online.


We’re going to be looking for schools to collaborate with and I’m always going to be looking for new angles to pursue. I’m all ears if you have anything to share.


Photo credit: Erica Marshall of

Basil Kolani

Basil Kolani

Director of Information Services at The Dwight School

Father of two, ed tech director excited about social media in schools, MYP technology teacher at an IB World School, TEDxNYED and EdCampNYC organizer, lover of historical non-fiction.