Social Media and Success as a Byproduct

A high school senior from a small town in Indiana is sought out by a professional in the social media education community for her work on social media sites. No, that is not an attention-seeking newspaper article title. It is my story. 

As a teenager, social media is an integral part of my daily life and as a high school student, I wanted to incorporate my daily habits into my education in a meaningful way. That is why, when I was invited to enroll in a student-run, project-based class my senior year, I jumped at the opportunity to pursue my passion for social media in the education system. Since enrolling in this class (Innovations) in August 2013, I have worked towards filming a DVD that will explain why social media is beneficial in the classroom and how it can be incorporated into the curriculum. 

Before filming my DVD, I needed to research how educators were using social media in the classroom already and what they believed were the pros and cons of allowing students that freedom and responsibility. My writing background is rooted in a journalistic format—I was co-editor of my school’s yearbook by my junior year of high school—and therefore I knew how important it was to gather outside information to enhance your own story. I wanted a database to refer back to when filming my DVD; thus, my blog was born. Since then, however, my blog has evolved into a rather personal and opinionated medium to research social media in the education system and how it impacts students and educators in their daily lives. I not only interview educators who use social media in their curriculum, but also share articles, YouTube videos, and TED talks that exemplify the significance of social media in the education system and detail how or why the current education system should be improved. 

Additionally, I discovered a need to reach my audience through a variety of forums. Social media networking can be accomplished through countless websites or mediums, such as posts on Facebook, connections on LinkedIn, followers on a blog, or subscribers on YouTube. Though my ultimate goal for my social media education mission is to film, produce, and distribute a DVD, I had no—emphasis on the no—experience in front of, or behind, the camera before enrolling in Innovations. In fact, the closest I came to speaking on film was when my Public Speaking teacher recorded me during a speech junior year. 

That being said, I uncovered some courage in the recesses of my soul to begin on a smaller scale: a YouTube channel. Hence, I constructed a list of the top ten things you should not do on Twitter—or social media sites in general—and created a ten-episode series to explain why these things should be avoided. From pessimistic posts, to cyber bullying, to inappropriate pictures, this list covers it all. Of course it is always evolving and can always be updated, though with the filming of my DVD that has been a lesser priority. Through my networking on social media sites such as my YouTube channel, however, I have connected with numerous inspirational figures in the professional realm.

How Howard Rheingold, author and adjunct professor at Stanford University specializing in modern technology and communications, and I were first connected is something him and I still contest to this day. We have agreed that, somehow, he came across my name on Twitter, which led him to my blog. From there, we cultivated a relationship that ultimately motivated him to inviting me to make a presentation to one of his classes at Stanford University this past October. In my opinion, that is an exhibit of the power of social media networking at its peak. 

Following my presentation at Stanford, I possess a newfound confidence that has propelled me forward in my mission. I have interviewed and have been interviewed by influential educators and professionals who have inspired me to continue to see this project to its full fruition despite any and all adversity I have encountered. Yes, a high school senior has collaborated with educators all over the country, but yes, she still has a long way to go. Fortunately, with the power of social media, she can accomplish her goals of integrating social media into the education system to allow every student similar opportunities to what she has had. All it takes is a little faith and the click of a link. 

Paige Woodard is a senior at Franklin Community High School in Franklin, Indiana. Paige is interested in collaborating with a variety of individuals passionate about integrating social media into the education system and can be found on Twitter at @paige_woodard. 

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