As summer winds down and gives way to fall, those lazy (maybe) days are changing hues to the more academic tones of the school year that all of us with children in our lives know well. The crisp smells of autumn that follow the start of the school year bring a new gust of excitement and anticipation, fear and joy, trepidation and connection among the newly formed relationships and memories of school years past. For parents, grandparents, and educators of gifted children, the search for support deepens once again as we strive to find the best ways to provide for and nurture our gifted kids. This search is as expansive and thorough as the chilling breeze brought by fall, leaving no leaf unturned and no solution hidden. These ‘leaves’ so to speak range from classes and textbooks, to research articles or social media in order to strengthen the net of support and knowledge surrounding gifted education.
This search for information has recently been a topic of interest for the WATG board. Discussion about the best way to communicate information with our members has been brought to the table. So once again, I open the table to all of you. We have been conversing about the possible positive and adverse side effects of using social media as a means to reach out to the larger community and whether or not this form of communicating is beneficial for discussing topics related to gifted children. There are two schools of thought. One is that posts on social media be research based, backed by well documented research in order to promote the facts of giftedness. On the other hand, the notion that social media should, while still being based in solid information, provide a platform for sharing more anecdotal information regarding giftedness. So how do we navigate this in a world that is so heavily reliant on social media for communicating?
First, in order to begin on a similar level, I offer a definition of Social Media. Target Marketing says that “At its highest level, social media is defined as the online technologies and practices that people use to share opinions, insights, experiences and perspectives with each other” (Target Marketing). In addition, iCrossing’s e-book states: “The five key elements of social media are: Participation, openness, conversation, community and connectedness” ( iCrossing ) With those definitions in mind, let’s continue.
To what degree is social media the place for research? WATG must be faithful in providing information to our readers that is founded on research. However, are research articles the only thing that readers want/need? I’m not sure. In the same way that we strive to aid the community in navigating the intricacies of the gifted community, we should strive to connect with individuals on different levels. When looking at the engagement that we have had with our readers over the last few months it has gone up dramatically. We are thrilled to see this increase! This participation is the result of a community of people, feeling connected through open conversation.
And isn’t this the very point of social media as iCrossing defined the elements? We are seeing that our readers appreciate “being” in a place where they have a network of folks that understand giftedness and what comes along with those gifts.
This balance is tricky. Will readers engage in discussion about current research in the same way as they engage in the conversations about everyday life with gifted children? Perhaps the balancing act must be on both our ends. WATG needs to be loyal and trustworthy to our readers and supply reliable content because the mission of our organization is “to educate about and advocate for the needs of gifted individuals in Wisconsin”. One of our key goals is to “facilitate the sharing of research and resources that support multiple facets of gifted/talented education”. However, our goals also include “increasing public awareness of and understanding for the needs of gifted individuals and their potential contributions to society and strengthening channels of communication among all those interested in the development and nurturing of high potential”.
How do we navigate these options in our community? Even amidst well-grounded, differing opinions and ideas, the objective remains the same: helping gifted children. We need to work together in order to work for them, the gifted children of Wisconsin. I invite all of you to the table, to join this discussion of creating community effectively while holding on to our objectives in order to be a united force for gifted children and gifted education in Wisconsin. Welcome to the table….