Social Media and Gifted Education
Social networks are wonderful tools that educators of gifted students can and should employ within the classroom.
Gifted students of all ages often struggle in a traditional learning environment because they do not meet their unique needs. Gifted students need to be pushed academically in order to keep their academic progress. Bingham and Conner (2010) define community as a place where students are free to learn the information they seek (pg. 38). Gifted students often struggle with forming and maintaining friendships because they want a relationship with someone who understands their thinking patterns. This is the reason a gifted elementary student will often times seek out a friendship with their teacher or a high school student. Cross (2013) found gifted students become more engaged with material in online educational settings with the opportunity to comment such as blogs and discussion boards because they not only allow the student to explore their specialized interest but they can interact with someone who intellectually is their equal (pg. 114)
Cross (2013) found gifted students who actively participate in online social networks benefit not only by exploring their interests in and outside the classroom but by learning social skills through interacting with their intellectual peers. Gifted students are motivated to learn through competency, autonomy and relatedness (pg. 114). These three skills are hard for the student to learn in the traditional classroom because the gifted student often times does not feel they belong. Gifted students, when interacting in an online discussion or conversation about a topic of their choosing, do not have to worry about if they belong to that group or not. They are empowered to be who they truly are online. Cross (2013) found introverted gifted children interact more when they are online than they do in the classroom and the number of gifted children connecting with others online has greatly increased (pg. 115).
While all of this sounds great for an educator to utilize social media in the classroom with their gifted students the educator should use some caution.
Educators would be wise to remember that while the gifted student may intellectually be advanced they could have some social/emotional delays. Educators and parents should know where the gifted student is online and what they are saying to someone online.
Another area to think about is the use of the internet in academics. It is very tempting for any educator to allow their gifted students free reign on the internet in order to complete a project. Gifted students can teach themselves but they should not depend upon the computer to teach them everything. The computer and internet is just one of many tools an educator has to teach a gifted students. It is not a replacement for the teacher.
Bingham, T., & Conner, M. (2010). The new social learning: A guide to transforming organizations through social media. Alexandria, VA: American Society for Training and Development.
Cross, Tracy L. (2013). Unchartered Territory: Growing Up Gifted amid a Culture of Social Media. Gifted Child Today, 36 (2), 144-145 doi 10.1177/10762175113475450