Jason Falls, a leading educator, public speaker and thinker in the world of digital marketing and social media, is calling on teachers to embrace social media in the classroom and harness the power of that technology to expand learning opportunities that have never before been possible.
"Social media and the ability to collaborate and communicate through the Internet tears down geographic boundaries [and] brings cultural diversity to students that normally wouldn't have it," said Falls, founder of Social Media Explorer.
Falls' advice to teachers: "Embrace this. You can only teach if you learn."
In an exclusive interview for the Verizon Thinkfinity Education Speaker Series, Falls discusses how social media and other technology are often wrongly blamed for some of society's most destructive behavior.
"Cyberbullying is certainly a concern to parents and teachers everywhere, but cyberbullying is not the result of social media," he said. "It's the result of somebody being a bully, and that happens offline as well as online."
Falls is the fifth speaker in the Thinkfinity Education Speaker Series, following retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, Dr. Benjamin Carson, Earvin "Magic" Johnson, and Harvard Professor Chris Dede.
Reflecting on the evolution of communications, Falls said that texting and other forms of social media are not responsible for any decline in students' writing ability. He noted:
"Kids have become more efficient with their communications, as opposed to less professional with grammar and punctuation. Take those same students and have them write a term paper or an email, and they're not going to communicate with abbreviated codes and 'LOLs.' If they have bad grammar, punctuation and spelling, it has nothing to do with texting; it has to do with their education."
Falls' conversation with Katrina Allen, program director of 21st century learning at St. Philip's Academy, is available for free only in the Verizon Thinkfinity Community section of the Verizon Thinkfinity.org website.
Al Browne, national director and vice president - education and technology, Verizon Foundation, said, "Studies show that only 14 percent of teachers are using social media, compared with 87 percent of students. Rather than allow fear to rule out opportunity, experts like Jason Falls can guide us in the effective use of social media to enrich learning experiences."
The Verizon Thinkfinity Education Speaker Series is an online series that enables educators and parents to connect with some of the most inspiring voices in education.
The series is available exclusively to members of the Thinkfinity Community, a virtual home to engaging, thoughtful dialogue on some of today's most challenging classroom issues. Anyone can join the Thinkfinity Community for free at www.thinkfinity.org/community.
The Verizon Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Verizon, uses its technology, financial resources and partnerships to address critical social issues, with a focus on education and domestic violence prevention. For more information on the foundation, visit www.verizonfoundation.org.
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE, Nasdaq: VZ), headquartered in New York, is a global leader in delivering broadband and other wireless and wireline communications services to consumer, business, government and wholesale customers. Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, with more than 107 million total connections nationwide. Verizon also provides converged communications, information and entertainment services over America's most advanced fiber-optic network, and delivers integrated business solutions to customers in more than 150 countries, including all of the Fortune 500. A Dow 30 company with $106.6 billion in 2010 revenues, Verizon employs a diverse workforce of more than 195,000. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.