Sunday, January 2, 2011

Social Networking in the Classroom

There appears to be quite a bit of discussion surrounding the use of Social networking tools in the classroom. However, the resource is being used in a number of schools all over the world with proven results of improved student participation and interest as well as motivation. There are a number of how to websites dedicated to providing information for helping teachers implement such a tool in their classrooms.
After reading a number of articles, blogs and journals I can see that there can be enormous benefits to using social networking in the classroom. I can also relate to the drawbacks and reservations that many teachers hold in regards to wanting to implement this concept into their teaching. It will, I imagine take work to get administrators and parents to buy, then even more work to implement as well as teach students how to use this web 2.0 tool effectively.   I do believe that if one is really invested and believe in the value of using such an innovation then it could be a very effective tool.
Using Social Networking in the classroom

Examples of social networking sites that can be used in the classroom (page 12)

12 Expert Twitter tips for the classroom. CLICK HERE

100 Inspiring Ways to Use Social Media In the Classroom. CLICK HERE  This site has some really good ideas.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Social Networking

As we reflect on education and different ways to engage our students by relating teaching to their interests, we cannot ignore the influence of social networking.  We live in a social world with students who often find it challenging to socialize. As a result we need to teach students how to be effective at socializing in that world, how to interact with people around them, how to be engaged, and informed twenty-first-century citizens.
Students enjoy using social networking sites and spend most of their free time on these sites. In my seventh grade science class all nineteen students have facebook accounts and are constantly updating them. The majority of my sixth grade students also have facebook accounts. They spend more time in school discussing what happened on facebook than they do the content that they are learning. If we can tap into that as educators we would have a real market. I believe we would get a few more students to participate in discussions through the use of social media in the classroom. The students would definitely be interested. I guess the drawback would be administration support in regards to policies surrounding privacy issues and cyber bullying among others.

I have a facebook account and a Myspace (just got that today) and I don’t spend that much time updating them and just hate when people I didn’t have as friends before send me friend request 10 years later. REALLY?

I however have friend requests from most of my students that I haven’t responded to. How do others feel about that? Is anyone friends with any of their current students? Does anyone or their administration have an opinion about this?    

Wikis in the classroom

Wikis can be used in the classroom in a number of ways to generate interest among students and get them involved in learning content as well as sharing their knowledge of content they have learned.
Wikis can be used as a group discussion board for the whole class with forums assigned for group work/collaboration.
Students can even have their own pages where they can share content in different ways to demonstrate their learning that the school can archive.
There are a number of sites that give examples of ways in which wikis can be used in the classroom. I have added links to a few of them below. I found these to be very insightful and informative for what I have in mind for my class wiki project.
14 interesting ways to use a wiki in the classroom - CLICK HERE
Wikis in education - CLICK HERE
Examples of Educational Wikis - CLICK HERE

Wiki at Work

In 2009 our school introduced the use of a wiki for communicating among staff when the school expanded. Before the introduction of the wiki we, as a staff used to communicate via email which was working out quite ok, annoying at times but not bad. (we only had a staff of about 25 and not everyone had something to say all the time). When we realized that our school would be expanding from our staff of 25 to about 50 we realized that email communication would not work so we thought that a wiki would work great. Admin section, each committee had a section, each school had a section and then there was the general staff section.

The wiki has been working great. I personally love it. I don’t have to worry about reading everyone’s comments unless I want to, I can communicate with the people on my committee’s without worrying about finding all their emails (especially when there is a new member). I can have certain forum posts (from administration) come straight to my email inbox. While doing all this I can track all the action items from all the other committees, as minutes from their meetings are posted.
The wiki has proven to be a very useful resource in keeping abreast of everything that’s happening within the school but at my own leisure. It also allows for transparency without having everyone get involved in decisions or meetings that they don’t want to get involved in, but still allowing them to have access to the information.

We have recently granted access to the PTO and they have their own forum. Our technology committee has also discussed the idea of having a student based wiki and have discussed hosting due to security and liability issues. Another teacher and I on the tech. committee have volunteered to pilot a class wiki for our final expedition in May. I will post how it goes.

This is it.

Where can I learn more about wikis?
Common Craft’s Video "wikis in Plain English":

7 Things you should know about a wiki - Click Here

Podcasting in Education- New/Old Light

I have been doing some research about podcasting and how to best use it in my classroom over the break and have found quite a few interesting ideas.

It is quite fascinating to find that many teachers are already successfully integrating the use podcast in their classrooms. Just this week my principal sent me a link to a podcast on itunes done by students at a school we visited to observe last year. It was really interesting to listen to those podcasts knowing that I had met some of those students as well as read their evaluations/reflections on the impact the podcasts had on their learning. It all makes me realise that technology can really be motivating for students especially if used correctly.

Students really like the idea of being able to see and hear themselves share their learning. For most the thought of being recorded is quite fascinating of course for others the same thought is quite terrifying. Most teachers who choose to use podcasts or any other recording in their classrooms will ultimately have to find a acceptable medium, especially is the students are being graded for the podcast itself.

I have included links to videos about using podcasts in education which I found very interesting and useful.

 Integrating podcasting into your classroom -

Podcasting In The Classroom -

Differentiated Instruction Podcast-Final.wmv -