Leaders in Profile: Leadership Lessons Through Virtual Education
6/10/2012 12:00 AM ,
The leadership education landscape has changed. No longer solely confined to a classroom setting, virtual connections via social media have expanded the reach of educators and students, while changing the ways that educators engage with their learners.
Dr. Bill Withers, professor of communication arts and assistant director of the Institute for Leadership Education at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, describes himself as a “digital immigrant” who has “adapted and acclimated to integrated technologies like social media.”
Withers routinely utilizes Facebook and Twitter to stay connected with students as well as friends, followers and fans with interests in leadership. Each summer, he teaches exclusively via Facebook. Because students are already utilizing social media on a daily basis, their typical responses to Withers’ explanation that the class will take place within its own learning group on Facebook are, “Okay, cool.”
“Social media is the ‘water cooler’ or ‘campfire’ of the 21st century,” Withers observes. “If you’re not using it, you’re not involved in the rich conversations that occur in such environments. I am routinely posting thoughts, ideas, and responses – and students contribute accordingly. We then bridge those posts to even deeper exploration as part of our in-class discussions.”
Withers believes that educators who don’t take advantage of social media are missing out on enriching connections and conversations. Traditional “chalk and talk” teaching methods are no longer effective for educators who seek to engage students beyond classroom walls. Leadership lessons aren’t contained to 60-minute lectures three times a week, and the relationships between educators and learners that are strengthened through social media extend learning beyond the semester.
Withers is a strong advocate for going where students are, rather than waiting for them to come to you. “You must meet students where they’re at. Today, and for much of their existence, students have the opportunity to learn, share and grow virtually even when the official class ends.”
For more information about Dr. Bill Withers work at the Institute for Leadership Education at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, he can be reached at William.email@example.com
Category: Success Stories