I’m not sure you caught the latest clip from Lady Gaga and Google highlighting the way Gaga interacts with her fans in large part due to the social nature of the Web 2.0. It’s one of the few times when a celebrity’s called a group of people monsters and gotten away with it. The discussion over the quality of her music has been divisive, but her undeniable musical talent is only surpassed by her ability to market that in such a way where people feel like they, too, are an actual part of her success.
When people look at her Soundscan numbers and digital copies, no one ever wonders where the fans come from. They’re the ones covering her on YouTube, tweeting about her to the point where every song of hers becomes a trending topic in an instant, and flooding her fan page with pictures of themselves inspired by her. They’re not just fans of her because she’s cool in her eyes; they’re part of a fan base that not only believes she’s watching every one of their interactions, but that everyone else in that network is, too. I wonder, then, what lessons we can glean about the future of teaching from this curious phenomena.
Some might say she’s a product of social engineering, but if anything, she’s the engineer. In the same way, we already have come to the conclusion that learning can’t just happen in class. Much of the mantra these days is still centered on teacher-directed instruction. While I do believe there’s room for that, especially in more technical arenas, there has to be a sense that learning comes 24 / 7. It happens even when our students least expect it. We just need to present them with a set of tools that they’ll always need and give them applicable situations, whether in context or otherwise.
For instance, I wonder how many students can take a lesson they saw in class and remix it to their liking instead of the usual reiteration we ask the kids to do with the material. I wonder how often students find a context where they used the math they had just learned in class, drop it as a picture on a teacher’s fan page, and had the teacher reply back to ask them another question on it. I wonder how many of us actually do a reflection after a lesson, publicly post it for teachers and students to comment, and let students use that as a reference along with any other reference they choose.
As adults, we like to adhere to certain rules about social media and how to interact with one another, yet our students don’t know these boundaries yet. In a relatively small percentage of incidents, these have deleterious effects. More often than not, this quasi-anarchy pushes our students towards innovating because the rules aren’t set. Some of the things adults do, like having a focus, doesn’t matter to kids, because it’s as much about the way you make the connect as the content that you have.
Lady Gaga gets this. Why don’t we?