Can Social Media Change Education Paradigms?

Sir Ken Robinson; author, speaker and international advisor on education in the arts to government, non-profits, education and arts bodies. He was Director of The Arts in Schools Project (1985–89), Professor of Arts Education at the University of Warwick (1989–2001) and was knighted in 2003 for services to education.  You can view the RSA animate video “Changing paradigms in Education”


I watched the video of Sir Ken Robinson’s “Changing Paradigms in Education” talk given at the Royal Society on the Arts on YouTube.  I don’t remember how I came across it but I was in awe.  I watched 4 or 5 times over. I wasn’t surprised to hear someone else talking about how current public education is failing our students.  Sir Ken Robinson’s simplistic approach to making small changes that can have significant impact on our children’s education was inspiring. I can see why it went viral.  Sir Ken’s key points hit many of the core issues I believe our evolving education system is now facing.

His views are not new.  The Montessori Method from the 1890’s involves the teacher in viewing the student as having an inner natural guidance for his or her own perfect self-directed development. The Reggio Emilia philosophy founded after World War II is based upon the following set of principles.  Students must have some control over the direction of their learning; must be able to learn

through experiences of touching, moving, listening, seeing, and hearing; have a relationship with other students and with material items in the world that students must be allowed to explore and must have endless ways and opportunities to express themselves.

So what has changed? Sir Ken Robinson talks about how education reform can work.  The current US education system was established during an Era of Cultural Enlightenment and the Industrial Economic Revolution.  That education model worked for a while. We were automating and building our communities.  People worked in factories or offices.  Technology was changing American society. Health and medicine evolved due to research technologies.  Many of our teaching programs developed over time met the variety of skill needs for our society.  As we move forward in the technological revolution factory like school settings and un-stimulating classroom learning are becoming obsolete, so we find ourselves asking “What’s Next?”

According to Robinson, We are changing education to prepare our future generations but we don’t know what that future will hold since there is such rapid change.  We are also trying to reform education to adapt to cultural changes while maintaining cultural identity, as the world’s cultures connect.

The System Requires Change

So how do we change the system without totally starting from scratch?  Our education infrastructure is expensive so we can’t build a new one. Many people are hesitant to scrap the current system fearing unknown outcomes.  There are ways Social Media could bridge the gap.   Technology has enabled society to catch up with Montessori’s revolutionary methods of teaching.  Collaborative learning and divergent thinking can take place in classrooms leveraging many of the Social Media tools we have today.

Image c/o

Preparing today’s students for the unknown and quickly changing cultural and economic climates, must include the new ways we are communicating.  Creating stimulating learning environments, allowing students to express knowledge through their creative means can be achieved by integrating Social Media technologies.  Communication modalities are changing our lives, and we must adapt our teaching methods to work with emerging technologies.

We must raise standards to compete in the changing world economy. What should the standards be?  Some tests can designate a person genius and others label them special needs.  Who will set the standards?

Sir Ken says to change the Education Paradigms we need to think differently about human capacity and get over the old conception of Academic, non-Academic, Abstract, Theoretical…etc. Most great learning happens in groups- Collaboration is the stuff of growth.  The current education system is crucially due to the culture of our institution: the Habits of our institution and the habitats they occupy.

I believe there are opportunities to make great strides with small changes if we introduce methods for implementing Social Media at different levels throughout the education spectrum.

Marilyn Zayfert is a passionate digital strategist implementing online and mobile applications. She is a results-driven sales and marketing strategist with a proven track record of achievement and demonstrated success.  Marilyn founded illumiNET Creative Media in 2009. illumiNET Creative builds and implements online marketing strategies for local businesses. Twitter @mzayfert  / Website / Facebook: Mzayfert / Google+ Marilyn Zayfert




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