As I listened to the interview with Brad Baker, I realized that he was the principal of my sister’s school district. After I finished the interview, I called her to ask if she had any experience with him. I was not surprised to hear that she had nothing but positive things to say about what he was doing. She expressed her gratitude for all he has done for the district and told me all about the man, the myth, the legend, Mr. Brad Baker. She told me about the personal sacrifices he made to create real change in the public school system. I was thrilled to learn that he would be moving to the Ministry of Education to continue to make waves in the education world.
Consider the equality that exists when all have the same platform to engage community dialogues
To put Brad Baker in the context of this course, we need to start by talking about his interview. As the first Indigenous teacher in the district, he has worked to implement Indigenous education programs in North Vancouver schools. How does social media fit into this? He spoke about how Indigenous communities are expressing themselves on online platforms and engaging in important discourses. This brings out voices that may not have been heard in the past. He goes on to say that a PLN is more than just connections, it is your support system. Within that system, they challenge each other and engage in respectful dialogue to create real progress.
According to Baker, it is important to allow Indigenous voices to be heard at a time when the mainstream media is highly politicized. Although the media’s function in society is to portray the concerns of all members of the community, traditional media channels tend to downplay the needs and demands of marginalized people, instead targeting content to the more dominant or popular groups (Bedeley et al., 2019). The news networks only tell what they want to tell. This makes it even more important to hear the real story, because when it is told by different voices, we lose some of its power. Controlling the message is also crucial. Social media, especially Twitter, allows people’s authentic voices to tell their real stories. If used appropriately, social media can help get messages across. They allow for the complexities of local nations to be shared in terms of education and culture. Through this, we also get rid of the idea that indigenous people have a traditional way of life and are disconnected from society.
The usefulness of social media and online spaces in education
We’ve heard about the improved teacher-student relationships and communication through social media, but their benefits to education don’t stop there. According to Wade (n.d.), there are many other benefits to using social media, such as sharing school news, holding online meetings, and helping with fundraising. Most schools have a Facebook page, Twitter account, and Instagram feed to keep the community updated on any important information. School districts also share news on social platforms, which is very helpful in places where seasonal weather can cause school closures. In addition, Wade says communication is important and if it can be easily accomplished through social media, then why not do it? Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have seen the value of the internet in communication between students, teachers, and parents. Even though school is back in person, parent-teacher conferences are taking place online in many districts.
Tutoring services are another example of how useful online spaces can be. I have been a tutor for many years, and Zoom has changed the way I do things. I can work with remote students without having to compromise on the quality of our sessions together. I share my iPad screen and use it as a whiteboard, and students can share their screen with me so we can work directly on their class materials. Not to mention that all of their important assignments are now online, whether they use Teams or their school portal, they are accessible at all times. I think all of these changes will continue, and educational communities around the world will be forever affected by our sudden shift to online spaces due to the pandemic.
Bedeley, R., Carbaugh, D., Chughtai, H., George, J., Gogan, J., Gordon, S., Grimshaw, E., Leidner, D., Myers, M., Ortiz, J., Wigdor, A., & Young, A. (2019). Giving Voice to the Voiceless: The Use of Digital Technologies by Marginalized Groups.
MILLER. (2021, June 10). Brad Baker EDCI 338. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5z8iHxW2n4
Wade, L. (n.d.). How Social Media is Reshaping Today’s Education System. Center for Social Impact Communication. Retrieved from https://csic.georgetown.edu/magazine/social-media-reshaping-todays-education-system/