Wednesday, October 7, 2009

"The Simpsons," Social Media, and Education

This was originally published on Mashable's BLOG to highlight the inclusion of Social Media in the Mainstream Media, specifically as it relates to kids in schools.

I just thought it was interesting that the SUBSTITUTE teacher was the one that embraced the social tools, but ultimately was fired for drinking on the job. The original traditional teacher was brought back at the end of the episode.

The metaphorical subtext seems to be that "anything goes" social media or educationally useful tech tools are ultimately bad and fad-like. I noticed that the environment for learning didn't change, and except for a video that one of the kids watched in a coffee shop, the technology pretty much stayed in the classroom.

Obviously, there was a lot of engagement when the kids were using the technology, but there wasn't a lot of LEARNING. In fact, the substitute teacher at the end of the episode emphasized that the kids don't need to learn, that school was just a giant "hamster wheel," and that they could find any piece of trivia or information in seconds on the internet.

This suggests, to me anyway, that "Memorizing" or "Covering" material is just as bad as integrating technology on a purely entertainment level. Is Education about "FACTS" or is it about "THINKING?" Sure, kids can look up the answer to anything on the Internet in seconds, but can they effectively evaluate and synthesize information and solve problems in divergent ways?

I'm not saying this episode wasn't funny...I just thought it raised quite a few questions as well. What do you think?


  1. Although humorous from one perspective, it seems to me that what this typifies is the ill-prepared teacher - the teacher who doesn't understand how to leverage new tools for learning - the teacher who is ill-prepared to manage interesting and complex learning environments - the teacher who loves the "cool factor" yet misses powerful learning opportunities - the teacher whose only recourse is to limit, filter, ban... simply because they have no vision, no support, no mentorship, lack of leadership,...

    Once the humor fades, it is all very sad.

  2. Hey,

    Many thanks for the wonderful blog.

    Compare to the past days teenagers used to draw and paint. The Social media has release up a totally new door for imagination and inspiration in multi-media formats. These are the cases where the remedial aspects of writing and sharing feeling, obvious in teenagers blogs.