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Social movements used to be so difficult to get started and maintain… This used to be the sediment in regards to previous social movements, today it is a different story. Zimmerman explains in Documenting Dreams how the success of the dream act stemmed from the use of digital media technologies. It was such a cool read to hear the importance that digital media and literacies have played in the constant struggle of immigration reform.

I feel that the next big reform is the prison industrial movement and its abolishment. There is a large community on Twitter that is talking about these issues and are engaging on developing a strategy to end the unjust prison system in the United States. As a future social studies teacher, I want my children to engage and make their voice heard on something that they are passionate about.

My question is how do we effectively teach students in a way that their voice is heard and valued in the constant stream of information? I pose this question not to gain a direct answer but rather to stir myself to write and engage in a way where my own voice on these issues can be heard, thus being able to teach these important skills to a future class.

So to those who are already educators, what are good ways of accomplishing this in the educational space?

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Are digital relationships not real?

Are digital relationships not real?

While reading Rainie and Wellman’s Chapter on digital relationships in the book, Networked in which they discuss the complexities of networked relationships. “Facebook and Twitter users control what information they disclose online. For example, neither Rainie nor Wellman discuss much of their personal lives on twitter” (Networked, 125). Further the discussion continues that there is a much richer and substantive relationship or networks being built in real life. I would disagree with these notions, first that educators or anyone for the matter need to be closed off to discussing their lives on the internet, while understanding what content is and isn’t appropriate, and second, online relationships and networking has profound impacts in real life.

Lets tackle one thing at a time. I always love it when a professor or one of my high school teachers would talk about their weekend, or what their kids are up to. I feel as if I am part of their life and important to them by getting to share in their experiences. There is some understanding that in a classroom setting making these connections for students is important and necessary for students to engage and learn. Now the fine line comes in on social and digital avenues. I have seen many teachers, engage with students on a secondary Facebook or twitter account. They balance between sharing their personal lives (something fun they did over the weekend, photos of their kids) with class content. I felt that it was a very well executed tool to engage students in a realm that they were interested in.

On to the second question, about authenticity of relationships in digital spaces. I feel that there is this dichotomy between the creepy weird stuff that is happening online, and people that are truly online to build relationships, networks, friendships and the like. This has quickly progressed I would say in the last 10 years, where the internet was not a safe space to converse, but now is an acceptable tool for meeting and dialoging with people. It also seems that people are more real online then they used to be. Sharing information isn’t feared as much and the online avenue of networking is used as a helpful and necessary tool in which people can engage. I also believe that these online interactions can help strengthen in person relationships, by connecting people based on interests online first and then the in person relationship can go much deeper as there is less need for the small talk to get to know people’s interests or dislikes.

Overall, I think that the online social networking tools are underused and understated in the educational system in which students and teachers can engage in a much more deeper and substantive level.