Power of Social Media
Power of the Internet, social media a life lesson for KCSOS teacher Jolene Berg and her students at Chipman Jr. High
KCSOS teacher Jolene Berg and her deaf and hard of hearing students at Chipman Junior High are at the center of an impactful life lesson that is putting the power of social media in the spotlight. A project that started as a simple “teachable moment” has spread to nearly every corner of the world.
On a recent afternoon, Berg’s students returned from lunch and wanted to discuss a stranger sending a message to a student through social media.
“We discussed sharing pictures, sending out messages and the potential for strangers to see your pictures and messages,” Berg said. “I explained to the class the length of time messages and pictures stay on the Internet is indefinite and they are there for anyone to see.”
Berg decided to make her point about the power of social media more real for her students by taking a photo of herself and posting it to Facebook. She was holding a sign that made a simple request: Please like, share and comment so my students can see how far and how fast photos can travel over the Internet.
Berg originally posted the message using Facebook’s high security settings. Within a minute, the project had received its first response. The fifth response was from Berg’s cousin in England and the seventh response was from a stranger.
“Over the next couple of days, I went through and showed the students which responders were my friends and family, and which were strangers,” Berg said.
Things got really interesting when Berg lifted the privacy setting and re-posted the message using Facebook’s public setting a week after the original post. KGET and KBAK — each with a hefty Facebook following — shared Berg’s post on their Facebook pages.
As of the morning of May 7, the picture had been shared 223,000 times and people in 64 countries had seen it. The post continues to be shared about 1,000 per hour.
Having experience with technology and social media, Berg realized that the post would get significant traction, but she says like her students, she too was surprised by how far and quickly the photo has spread.
“On one hand it’s exciting to see the response is so far reaching. On the other, it’s scary to think that more than 200,000 strangers have seen the post,” she said. “I was surprised to get responses from China and North Korea!”
Berg is a longtime proponent of using technology in the classroom. She says it gives teachers the means to provide students with many different kinds of learning experiences — a way to share knowledge, expand knowledge and create curiosity for new knowledge in more efficient ways.
At the same time, it is important to educators and parents to teach students “digital citizenship,” or using technology appropriately, Berg said.
That’s exactly what this project was all about.
“Because we are not able to see how large the Internet actually is and who is connected, many people don’t think beyond their phone, laptop or tablet,” Berg said. “We need to be sure we are giving kids guidance on how to use technology responsibly,” Berg said.