It’s simply defined by Professor Nivien Saleh (2013), democracy is about making people voices heard and listening to those who disagree with them. In short, democracy is about facing and expressing diversity wisely. In the midst of the swift currents of globalization and technology era, our young generation are facing people with diverse perspectives, culture, religion, language, social status, and characteristics. To create effective democracy environment, this generation should be equipped with a skill that enable them to respond diversity wisely. The skill is tolerance.
Tolerance is a must have skill for this generation to live among the flood of diversity. It helps them recognizing people from different perspectives, values, ideas, and characteristics. Unfortunately, our country’s education has not not prepare this skill effectively. Mostly, our education system seems to keep our students in a ‘ safety and peaceful box’ where they live in the similar type of people in a school which has the same culture, religion, social status, and characteristics. Consequently, they are not prepared to accept and discuss with people who have different feelings, habits, and belief. Our young generation might know the meaning of tolerance in their textbook, but they have never really practicing it with real diverse situation.
School should be a place where students practicing their tolerance. The limited face to face in class time, big & fat curriculum requirement, and teaching administration have became the major reasons why teachers hardly engage students in real tolerance practice. Nevertheless, this problem actually challenge educator’s creative ideas to utilize modern technology trend that has been part of students’ life to teach tolerance: social media.
Social media are defined as new information technology using a form of communication utilizing interactive and user-produced content, where interpersonal relationships are created and maintained (Suomen-Toivo, 2012, p.7). Some examples of popular social media among our generation are Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, FlickR, Pinterest, Instagram, etc. Social media technologies have the potential to fundamentally change the way people think about teaching and learning (Mishra & Koehler, 2009, p.16).
One of the most trending social media among our generation is Twitter. It features high levels of participation, numerous contributions and discussions and a diversity of participants (Friedman, 2007, p.10). The use of Twitter provides an opportunity for students to shape the values and moral vision of the digital community that could open up doors of opportunities of meaningful learning experiences beyond the classroom walls and the textbook. In Twitter, our young generation lives in the interconnected era that promotes various interaction with diverse people that are combined in powerful ways (Tapscott & Williams, 2008, p.269). Twitter gives much opportunity to reach a vast number of people and engage them in meaningful interaction. Twitter provides opportunity for our generation to respect the uniqueness of people’s different belief and opinion.
How do we utilize Twitter to promote tolerance?
Start Tweets for Tolerance in your school! Tweet for Tolerance is a twitter based learning that encourage students, teachers, and other people to learn tolerance virtually. These are step by step of doing it.
First, engage your students to promote Tweets for Tolerance. Let the students tweet several topics and issues for #TweetsForTolerance in twitter. Ask your students to express their creative ideas in twitter using # Hash tag as discussion tool. You can engage your students to upload pictures, quotes, music, and any creative media that will inspire people in twitter to learn the meaning of tolerance creatively.
Second, initiate in-class tweets to discuss simple tolerance issues. You can explain tolerance issue in class and ask them to respond at home. The question could be like this: “How to show tolerance in Fasting month of Ramadan? #TweetsForTolerance” Allow them to speak back and show that you listen. Manage student responses in twitter and give them feedback for their tweets.
Third, involve diverse people outside class in your twitter discussion. You can bring up same or similar questions in your class about tolerance in Ramadan. But this time, ask your students to invite the other people outside class. Involve your students to promote #TweetsForTolerance to diverse people in social media. You can ask them to initiate questions for discussion too. Let your students participate and express their position.
Fourth, reflect tweets for tolerance practice into your class. Use Storify to gather all virtual responses.Ask the students to reflect what they have tweeted. Analyze students sharing and the other people responses. Let your students reflect how to make twitter discussion better. Also, challenge the students to reflect the best practice of tolerance both in virtual and real world.
Finally, Tweets For Tolerance will bring valuable experiences and skills to practice tolerance.The usage of social media will bring positive atmosphere of tolerance that respect people diversity in virtual world. It will motivate young people to hold hand together to practice the vibrancy of democracy and diversity both in virtual and real world.
Let’s bring Tweets for Tolerance to your school!
Friedman, T.L. (2007). The world is flat: a brief history of the twenty-first Century. New York: Picador.
Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. (2009).Too cool for school? No way!.Learning & Leading with Technology, 36 (7), 14‐18.
Saleh, N (2013).Using Social Media to Foster Tolerant Societies. Retrieved from http://www.thunderbird.edu/article/using-social-media-foster-tolerant-societies on June 22, 2014.
Suomen-Toivo.(2012). Social media-the new power of political influence. Helsinki: Suomen-Toivo
Tapscott, D. & Williams, A.D. (2008). Wikinomics: How mass collaboration Changes Everything. New York: Portfolio.