We Can Teach Millennials to Be Savvy Social Media Users

There is life after cellphones.My mass comm students at North Lake College looked up from their screens and gave their thumbs a rest for our final paper of the semester. They reported and wrote on "Social Media: Good, Bad or Neutral for Democracy?"Ours was a diverse group. A Bengali woman, mother of a 2-year-old. A bartender-waiter with two kids and a concealed-carry permit. A Salvadoran whose on-campus reporting about our shootings last May helped his Telemundo39 team win a Texas Emmy. A 20-year-old woman left as an orphan on a roadside in China and adopted by an American single mom. One half of a set of home-schooled twin women. A black woman who wrote conservative columns. A half-Hispanic, half-Korean woman working for a financial firm.In short, the spectrum of students I've come to treasure while teaching at community colleges. All have jobs. Several have children. Many are bilingual. Most are there because they want to bootstrap themselves to a four-year university and then to a better life.They wrote two papers a week for me. Fake news. Clickbait. Right- and left-wing websites. Blogs. Tweets. A print (!) product. Besides learning to write better, the course aimed to improve their critical thinking skills. By mid-November, they were ready for their final. (I don't give tests except for current events quizzes. How do you test writing? By writing.)We used social media throughout the semester. Now, they had to analyze the impact on our system of government and why we vote the way we do.  Continue reading...

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