When I was in school, the only people who saw my written work were my parents and my teachers. I wasn’t getting real feedback, I was getting the feedback of someone being prepared to someday write for real-world feedback… probably years in the future. These students are learning to communicate with their peers, with adult facilitation and mentoring, in a way that only those who wrote for the student newspaper before were able to do. What a great world awaits us. Posted Steve Hargadon, Nov 01, 08
My First Social Network in my world: Ever since I can remember, I have always had a keen interest in technology. As a child, I used a headset and music to memorize facts for tests and quizzes at school. When learning a second language, I became dependent on the computer translator (very basic model) inhigh-school and I was completely enthralled when I was introduced tothe WorldWeb Web\ during college (which I predominately used to download music lyrics). While these tools helped me as a learner, they confined my learning to their terms. My input was not an option.
It was in University that I first felt a true sense of connection to what exists beyond my own day-day reality. Sometime in the spring of 1999, Kosovo hit the international headlines when forces under the Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic tried to suppress the Albanian majority’s independence campaign. This news item struck my interest because my neighbours had recently immigrated from a small village in Yugoslav and I had spent many evenings on our back porch learning about the political turmoil and war crimes faced by the Kosovo Albanian citizens. With my new computer and first ever Internet connection, I followed blog posts from Kosovo Albanians who were being forced to flee their homes – thousands killed. Leaving my homework aside, night after night I would read posts from people all over the world expressing their disgust and concern over the Milosevic rule. My understanding and compassion for these people were more than I could have imagined, something that I had never experienced outside my own family. This was my first taste of the Web 2.0 – My first time publishing my own thoughts for the world to see. The only people who had every read my work before were my teachers, or family. This was my first Social Network outside my personal space. I felt incredibly empowered and excited that this could be possible and I knew that that would by my mission as educator, to give students the opportunity to know what exists beyond them, to connect to others, to read each other’s work and publish their own.
The following article will explore how educators, myself included are changing their teaching practices by using Social Networks in the classroom and what challenges they have encountered by having to adapt to new technologies and new methods of teaching. Finally, I will provide recommendations of how classroom teachers can incorporate safe online practices that allow students to express themselves in the on-line community. I hope that this article will spark further conversation by schools, districts and parents about the use of Social Network at the district, school, and classroom level.
Education had to change -it did and it will:
Not so long ago (surely the equivocating sign of a greybeard) companies were actually paying consultants to train their people to write bullet point memos so they could communicate big ideas or complex messages within the confines of a single page of paper. Then it became email training, so the same workers could transition from the single-page paper memo to asingle-screen, no-scroll email. Now email communication has evolved into Facebook, and Facebook is in the process of giving way toTwitter. Posted by: MagicBram
I was hired with the HWDSB I did not know at the time that I would be taking as Robert Frost would say, ‘the road less traveled’. It was year 2001. There was no Internet and no classrooms computers. The term Social Networking was not even spoken. But still, I took this less traveled road thinking because I felt pretty certain that soon the world would open up to these students. I did not know that what I was doing was taking my very first step at transforming a way of teaching.
By 2006 each classroom was equipped with networked (internet) IBM computerswith the most up to date software and a brand new computer lab (25computers), a ratio of 1 computer for every 10 students. By 2007, the school purchased its first Smart Board (Interactive Whiteboard) as well as a mini-lab station with five portable laptops, which contain specialized assistive technology for special needs students and by 2008 every classroom in the school was equipped with a Sound Field Speaker System, laptop computer, Wireless Internet and Smartboard.Continued support for change brought continued growth in the area of technology with the addition of digital cameras, video cameras, scanners, printers, webcams, document camera’s, use of pda’s, and finally, electronic home reading programs embedded within the program. The stage was set, however, the actors were not ready yet.Social Networking will prepare all of the actors to be ready, current, and constantly evolving and learners and educators.
Social Network in Education – What’s that?:
Social networks (and social media in general) enable communication that can be as deep, shallow, broad, or specific as we might want. Businesses are using social media t0 reach new audiences, build knowledge bases, train users, and enable cross-team collaboration like never before. Schools can do the same, while kids will continue to be kids and talk to each other, even if it isn’t “tying up the phone line” like we used to do. Posted by: Christopher Dawson
According to Boyd (2007), social network sites are defined “as web-based services that allow individuals to (1) construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system, (2) articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and (3) view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system. The nature and nomenclature of these connections may vary from site to site.’ (Boyd & Ellison, 2007: 2).
“Isn’t this the whole point of what we are teaching – to teach the children to weed the wheat form the chaff and find deeper meaning in the streams of data widely available to them” (Dawson, 2009).
Social networking can help students in school because it can help students blog, participate with each other ,hand in assignments talk with each other without disturbing others. It can also help students be encouraged with school work and enjoy it rather than hate it. It not only affects the students grades and marks yet we also help our environment by conserving paper and posters and pencils. Not only that but we can also help those who come unprepared to class or cant get appropriate school materials. Why should we do it the old fashioned way by using pencils and papers when we are in reach of this type of technology. This technology that encourages students to learn helps the environment and is one of the best resources that helps students broaden their information and knowledge through the worldwide web. We are the future, remember that!
Grade 7 Student, Lawfield Elementary School.
“collaboration, self-direction and problem solving are all long-term academic and life skills that social networking helps students practice”.
“If someone is going to react other than the teacher, a child is much more likely to take an assignment seriously,” Flynn says. According to a Kids Social Networking Study by Grunwald Associates There has been explosive growth in creating and authoring activities by students on social networking sites in recent years, especially in the area of music, photos and videos where students are expressing, creating, manipulating and sharing content online (The national School Boards Association, 2007) GrunwaldAssociates LLC This same study indicated “Almost 60 percent of students who use social networkingtalk about education topics online and, surprisingly, more than 50 percent talk specifically about schoolwork. Yet the vast majority of school districts have stringent rules against nearly all forms of social networking during the school day — even though students and parents report few problem behaviors online Grunwald Associates LLC. After completing an online survey (through the use of Twitter and Google Docs), I also noticed many disparities between school districts across North America as it relates to Social Network Policy. What was blocked and not blocked was not consistent from district to district even in the same state or province. For example, Twitter and Skype are blocked in the regional area in one school district when it is not in another. In every district that responded, however Youtube was blocked. For every person that responded in the survey, they indicated that their school district fully supported the use of Social Networking in their schools. A large proportion of educators that responded indicated that they do use Social Networking as Professional Development tool for themselves (see below example).
Does your school or district support podcasting or blogging tools as a relevant teaching strategy?
Scale the use of Social Networking USE in your work environment (for constructive purposes)
First, it was First Class:
As I am learning, however, change is necessary in order to progress. The students in my class soon expressed drawbacks to only using First Class to reach “the world”, as they would say. Only they could respond to each others’ posts as FC was password protected. As well, after about their 3rd or 4th podcast, their user limit for network space would be exceeded and they would have to delete previous posts, which they did not want to do. I had to find another way. Unfortunately, policy had not yet been developed to help guide me where I could go next with my students. I wanted to stay current and innovative but I also had to protect my students from potential privacy, trust and danger concerns as it related to the Internet.
Drupal: For a more elaborate and specific sharing, we use the Brock Learning Network –“an innovative, virtual community of the Faculty of Education…. with Web 2.0 capabilities (similar to Facebook™, YouTube™, online news reports, and calendars) rolled into one dynamic site. The next stage is to incorporate Drupal as a platform to partner the Faculty of Education and the District School Board in order offer educators and students at all levels the most current and authentic research and collaboration opportunities as possible.
Wikispaces: My students now use Wiki’s as a collaborative platform to share and present information in a Jigsaw format during language activities. Each small group of students is given a set of tasks to present (example).These groups are to present all information, regardless of product (picture, video, poem, research, timeline, audio) in the wiki. At the end of the learning session, the students have created a collaborative collection of their work (example). This work is also used for studying for tests about content. Students complete and hand in homework assignments through the use of Wikis (homework example one)(homework example 2). I recently introduced the concept of Wiki’s in a book club that Iam a member. These educators, from both elementary and secondary level had never used a Wiki and after participating in the book club wiki assignment, they planned on using it with their students.
In December 2008, students actively participated as they blogged /podcasted to five Hamilton and Halton men who set out on an expedition to the South Pole to raise money for poverty. On Dec 17,2008, our class received a phone call from the team and podcasted the call for the world to see and later created their own podcast to thank the team members for their contribution to our community. These experiences are ones that I changed my way of doing things as a teacher. While I have provide opportunities or set the stage and provide the direction, I have learned to unleash the control – it is the students that have constructed their own learning and participated actively in their own educational process.
Acquisti, Alessandro and Ralph Gross. (2006). Imagined
Communities: Awareness, Information Sharing, and Privacy on the
Facebook. In P. Golle & G. Danezis (Eds.), Proceedings
of 6th Workshop on Privacy Enhancing Technologies (pp. 36-58).
Cambridge, U.K: Robinson College, June 28-30.
(2009). Retrieved from social networks in education:
Association, N. S. (2007, 11 09). Online Social
Networking And Education: Study Reports On New Generations Social And
Creative Interconnected Lifestyles. ( National School Boards
Association (USA) in partnership with research firm Grunwald
Associates LLC ) Retrieved from MasterNewMedia:
Dawson, C. (2009, 02 25). Stop Bashing Social
Networks. Retrieved from zdnet:
Hargadon, S. (2008, 11 01). K-12 Educational
Technology: Web2.0, Free and oPen Source Software, and the Future of
Education. Retrieved from Steve Hargadon:
Viva, A. (2009). Technology and Social Media Trends
for Schools in 2009. Retrieved from anonioviva.com: