Advocating Social Media to Promote Change to Literacy Laws
Jan 29, 2012 E-Learning/CALL 2033 Views
At the 62nd annual conference for the International Dyslexia Association (IDA), held in Chicago in November 2011, renown experts in the field of education, researchers, educators, advocates, parents, and business and political leaders converged to share the latest advances, techniques, and teaching methods targeting dyslexics and learning disabled children. With literacy levels in the U.S. slipping to all-time lows and growing disenchantment with current education policies, the Dyslexia Association is taking a lead role in drafting model language for State Literacy Law changes and pushing for the passage of the LEARN (Literacy Education for All, Results for the Nation) Act.
In a recent press release, IDA executive director Stephen Peregoy emphasized, "The International Dyslexia Association has been tireless in its effort to promote literacy for all students and ensure that all learners receive the support needed to achieve their full potential." To advance literacy law changes, this year's conference included a forum on using social media to organize, mobilize, network, and motivate parents and educators to improve U.S. literacy. Scott Douglas Redmond, a business strategist, technology architect, President of Clever Industries, and a dyslexic himself, led a discussion at the IDA conference on using social media in grassroots campaigns.
Scott has numeric dyslexia (dyscalculia) and experienced learning challenges while growing up alternately labeled "gifted" then "handicapped" and identified as either a "dumb kid" or a "smart kid."
The National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) defines dyscalculia as representing a range of disabilities involving math learning with broad variations that can include difficulty learning the meaning of numbers, trouble counting, recognizing numbers, solving basic math problems, and having other math-related challenges. NCLD posts on its website that "LD [Learning Disability] is more than a difference or difficulty with learning - it is a neurological disorder that affects the brain's ability to receive, process, store, and respond to information."
Scott grew up thinking he was dumb, although some things he understood better and more quickly than his peers did. He eventually learned math by creating his own pictorial math process that he now shares with children with numeric dyslexia so they can learn. He attended public and private schools in central California and upstate New York, earned a B.A. degree at San Francisco State college (on the Dean 's List), and audited classes at Stanford University and U.C. Berkeley. Scott's experience shows that with proper teaching methods, dyslexics can learn successfully. IDA is working to structure state literacy law with language that establishes knowledge and practice standards for teachers of reading to make sure all children become literate by the third grade.
In Scott's presentation at the IDA conference, he recounted examples where a few people influenced thousands and even millions. He cited the Association for Child Support Enforcement, begun in Ohio by a single mother that moved state by state across the country; the Mothers Against Drunk Driving, which started as a small effort that convinced dozens of states to toughen drunk driving laws; and other examples where collective power started with one person or a few and grew to reach masses. Through effective use of social media, previously isolated and seemingly powerless people can connect with like-minded people and create a movement to produce results.
Social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, and Foresquare are readily available and software tools, like TweetDeck, a desktop application that interfaces with Twitter and other networks, allow users to organize high volume sends, receive tweets, and view profiles in bulk. With one click using contact management websites like iContact, MailChimp, and LISTSERV, a single user at home with a computer can deliver content to hundreds, thousands, or millions using automated mailing lists.
By providing the tools for people to mobilize and connect with other people, social media offers knowledge-based support and channels for advancing shared goals.
Scott Redmond challenged the conference attendees to take "tangible steps to use social media to create parent/child partnerships to bring the legislation reform message to every state in America."
Large-scale change is never easy, but it becomes more manageable and possible with collaboration. Like the printing press and telephone, social media is revolutionizing communication. With the aid of social media, the International Dyslexia Association hopes to start a vibrant national dialogue that will dramatically improve literacy. Are you in? Go to www.state-literacy-law.org for more information.
Karen L. Monsen is a freelance writer with over 20 years of experience working with business and technical professionals to improve their written documents and business presentations. Ms. Monsen spent the past eight years as a self-employed freelance writer and training designer and consultant. Prior to that, she worked eleven years for Franklin Covey Company and Shipley Associates as a Senior Consultant. In her previous nine years, she served as a Senior Training Specialist for Texaco's Comptrollers Department as they implemented a corporate-wide Total Quality Improvement Process and the Technical Training Coordinator for Getty Oil Company's Exploration and Production Technology Division. Most recently, she has been assisting Laurie Pehar-Borsh PR (LPBPR) in writing and revising resumes, bios, and career success stories to be used on social media profiles and business and personal Websites.