Tag Archives: Social Media

7 Tips For Integrating Lessons With Social Media

This is a guest post from Amy Williams. Amy Williams is a free-lance journalist based in Southern California and mother of two. As a parent, she enjoys spreading the word on positive parenting techniques in the digital age and raising awareness on issues like cyberbullying and online safety.

What items come to mind when you think about classroom supplies? Do you envision notebooks and number two pencils? Your list probably included staples like erasers, crayons, and glue sticks, but did you consider how social media can be a powerful learning tool in the classroom?

Social media has the power to take what students enjoy and extend lessons that offer students real world applications. Instilling a love of learning is no easy task, especially in a world that is constantly changing with fancier and brighter screens. Our students’ fascination with technology makes it important for educators to integrate lessons and increase classroom participation by embracing our children’s favorite means of expression: social media.

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The Benefits Of Social Media In The Classroom

Even though social media has gotten a bad rap in the news, it has the possibility to extend learning opportunities beyond the building’s walls. Smartphones, tablets, and laptops are wonderful gadgets, but they can be a real distraction during instruction time. One way to avoid constant technology monitoring is to harness this love for social media and use it productively in the classroom.

Listed below are 6 benefits to using social media in education:

  • Lower-income students will have access to technology and chances to build these skills. Social media has the power to help overcome the digital divide when it comes to different economic groups.
  • It allows quiet or reserved students the opportunity to be heard.
  • It offers relevant ways to check for understanding.
  • Simultaneously fosters learning and technology skills.
  • Activities are shared with authentic audiences.
  • Content is meaningful to our younger generations of visual learners.

7 Tips For Integrating Lessons With Social Media

Integrating social media with our curriculums opens a world of possibilities for a teacher and the classroom. However, teaching with technology often poses it’s own set of problems from equipment failure, down networks, and dead batteries. Social media is no exception and often there will be a few kinks to work out before using it in a lesson.

Here are some suggestions to help bring social media into the classroom:

  • Keep your professional/classroom pages separate from your personal profile.
  • Know the school’s policy on social media and privacy.
  • Get a parent or guardian to sign a permission slip allowing you to post student work or images on class websites.
  • Make sure that students are well versed in social media etiquette.
  • Create classroom accounts for students to limit personal distractions during class.
  • Check the resources and beware of inappropriate pop-ups or advertising.
  • Be familiar with the platform and understand the privacy settings, potential problem areas, and ways to troubleshoot.

Ideas To Bring Social Media To Life

After managing to successfully introduce social media into lessons: the real fun can begin. Here is a compilation of ways teachers have upgraded lesson plans to include social media:

  • Courtesy of Pixabay http://pixabay.com/

    Courtesy of Pixabay http://pixabay.com/

    Create a group or page for each class on a social media outlet. You can post assignments to keep students and parents informed about approaching deadlines or projects.

  • Use Twitter to follow threads or current events by using hashtags to sort topics. Connect with experts, authors, classes around the world, and more by interacting with tweets.
  • Set up a blog to take journaling to a new level! Help students hone their writing skills to create and display their works for a bigger audience. Blogging has the potential for feedback from peers, professionals, and people other than a teacher.
  • Utilize sites like Class Dojo to keep parents informed on class behavior or for positive classroom management.
  • Create concept videos using Vine or YouTube. This can be a group or whole class project that allows students take the reigns while getting creative, having fun, displaying their best work, and gaining a deep understanding of the topic.
  • Use Pinterest boards to organize concept maps for any topic. This works great for biomes, animal classification, heritage studies, and more.
  • Use quiz sites like Kahoot or trivia games to make reviewing topics fun. Students use computers or Smartphones to answer quizzes on various subjects while you are able to measure comprehension.
  • Use Instagram or other photo services to host a scavenger hunt that requires students to post items that fit a certain theme. This can be adjusted to any grade level easily. For instance you can have them look for objects that start with a certain letter or post items that are related to a historical figure.

Educators are always on the lookout for new ways to use social media in the classroom. Do you have any tips for using social media with lessons?

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4 Ways to Implement Blogging in the Classroom

This is reblogged from my post at Daily Genius.

Blogging is a popular activity in classrooms today because it allows students to share their writing with a broader audience and teachers to communicate with parents. There are a myriad of platforms to choose from: edublogs,Kidblog (especially good for elementary age children), Blogger, wordpress, and most LMS systems have a blogging platform built in.

How to set up blogging in the classroom will depend on your platform, and is pretty easy to figure out with all of the “how-to” videos and help center collections. What teachers most often ask me is why they would set up a blog for their class. What value is there in a class blog?

Here are some great ideas and applications for class and/or individual student blogs that you can explore in your classroom.

BLOGS AS EPORTFOLIOS

Blogs can be set to private, public, and shared with specific individuals or groups. This makes them a great platform for students to build their own ePortfolio. They can curate their content first for teachers and parents before publishing it to a broader audience. As a blog allows for not only written content, but multimedia material (images, videos, interactives, etc), it makes it possible for students to create a robust online presence. Kristen Wideen uses Kiblog for her elementary students to create digital portfolios; you can read more about her experience here.

BLOGS AS A SHOWCASE FOR STUDENT WORK

If your students are making videos, creating science fair projects, writing poetry, or other creative content, then a blog is a great way for them to showcase their work. By allowing (moderated) comments, students have an authentic, broader audience that they are addressing. Imagine students who are participating in Poetry Month posting their participatory works online and getting feedback from poets around the country! TheBurlington High School Help Desk (staffed entirely by students) hosts a community blog where they post information about themselves, helpful hints, reviews for new apps and tools, individual projects, and much more. By engaging a broader audience, students learn about digital citizenship and safety while online.

BLOGS FOR CLASS DISCUSSION

Because blogs allow for threaded discussion, they are an excellent platform for discussion. One of my favorite exercises in Social Studies is to post a news article along with some guided questions (the New York Times Learning Network has great tools for this). Students then engage in an online discussion about the topic. Not only does this promote critical thinking and writing skills, but it is an excellent diving board for discussions on Digital Citizenship.

BLOGS FOR GROUP PROJECTS AND LABS

If you have students working on groups projects or in class labs, especially ones that take several weeks and exercises, then blogs are an excellent way for them to record and report on their progress. Imagine students working on a Biology Lab that encompases a quarter or semester-long project. As a group, they report their findings, measurements, and progress each step of the way. If the blog is shared with the class, then they have an audience that is also monitoring their progress, not only learning from their peers but also providing oversight for errors.

These are just a few examples of activities that you can use blogs for in your class. Explore how blogging can work in your class and try some of these examples from EdTechTeacher.

LOOKING TO LEARN MORE ABOUT BLOGGING IN THE CLASSROOM? COME JOIN US THIS SUMMER!

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  • Creating Digital Portfolios
  • Reading, Writing, & Research
  • Teaching English, History, or Foreign Language with Technology
  • And More!

View the Full Course Catalog at ettsummer.org

Top 100 Most Social K-12 Tech Leaders on Twitter

I was recently honored to learn I was included in the Huffington Post Tech article: “Top 100 Most Social K-12 Tech Leaders on Twitter.” I am especially honored when I see who they include on this list. Impresive group of people. If you are looking to expand your Twitter PLN, these are all great adds!

School rule-breakers to hand over Facebook and Twitter passwords

These policies are becoming more prevalent. They draw legitimate concerns about student privacy rights and are reminiscent of “locker searches” but on a much broader scale. Are these practices legal? Are they ethical? Do the ends justify the means?

Critical Digital Pedagogy: A Definition

One of the most thought-provoking online tech journals, Hybrid Pedagogy, published this article today. It is incredibly thought provoking and articulate. I hope you will read it and comment on the article. It is reproduced here in its entirety in conjunction with their Creative Commons Licensing. If you enjoy the article, I recommend that you subscribe to their free journal.

On November 21 at the OpenEd Conference in Washington, DC, Sean Michael Morris and Jesse Stommel will present on critical digital pedagogy and MOOCs. This is the first of three articles that inspired that talk.


“There is no such thing as a neutral educational process.”  ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed

“Pedagogy is not ideologically neutral.” This line has been for me almost a mantra over the last several years. I’ve said variations of it on Twitter, on the About Us page of Hybrid Pedagogy, on the site for theHybrid Pedagogy Inc. non-profit, and in our recent CFP focused on Critical Digital Pedagogy. I’ve circled around this phrase, because I feel increasingly certain that the word “pedagogy” has been misread — that the project of education has been misdirected — that educators and students alike have found themselves more and more flummoxed by a system that values assessment over engagement, learning management over discovery, content over community, outcomes over epiphanies. Education (and, to an even greater extent, edtech) has misrepresented itself as objective, quantifiable, apolitical.

Higher education teaching is particularly uncritical and under-theorized. Most college educators (at both traditional and non-traditional institutions) do little direct pedagogical work to prepare themselves as teachers. A commitment to teaching often goes unrewarded, and pedagogical writing (in most fields) is not counted as “research.”

The entire enterprise of education is too often engaged in teaching that is not pedagogical. There are a whole host of other words I’d use to describe this work: instruction, classroom management, training, outcomes-driven, standards-based, content delivery. Pedagogy, on the other hand, starts with learning as its center, not students or teachers, and the work of pedagogues is necessarily political, subjective, and humane.

What is Critical Pedagogy?

Critical Pedagogy is an approach to teaching and learning predicated on fostering agency and empowering learners (implicitly and explicitly critiquing oppressive power structures). The word “critical” in Critical Pedagogy functions in several registers:

  • Critical, as in mission-critical, essential;
  • Critical, as in literary criticism and critique, providing definitions and interpretation;
  • Critical, as in reflective and nuanced thinking about a subject;
  • Critical, as in criticizing institutional, corporate, or societal impediments to learning;
  • Critical Pedagogy, as a disciplinary approach, which inflects (and is inflected by) each of these other meanings.

Each of these registers distinguishes Critical Pedagogy from pedagogy; however, the current educational climate has made the terms, for me, increasingly coterminous (i.e. an ethical pedagogy must be a critical one). Pedagogy is praxis, insistently perched at the intersection between the philosophy and the practice of teaching. When teachers talk about teaching, we are not necessarily doing pedagogical work, and not every teaching method constitutes a pedagogy. Rather, pedagogy necessarily involves recursive, second-order, meta-level work. Teachers teach; pedagogues teach while also actively investigating teaching and learning. Critical Pedagogy suggests a specific kind of anti-capitalist, liberatory praxis. This is deeply personal and political work, through which pedagogues cannot and do not remain objective. Rather, pedagogy, and particularly Critical Pedagogy, is work to which we must bring our full selves, and work to which every learner must come with full agency.

In Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Paulo Freire argues against the banking model, in which education “becomes an act of depositing, in which the students are the depositories and the teacher is the depositor.” This model emphasizes a one-sided transactional relationship, in which teachers are seen as content experts and students are positioned as sub-human receptacles. The use here of “sub-human” is intentional and not exaggeration; for in the tenets set out in Freire’s work (and the work of other Critical Pedagogues, including bell hooks and Henry Giroux), the banking model of education is part and parcel with efforts most clearly summed up in the term dehumanization. The banking model of education is efficient in that it maintains order and is bureaucratically neat and tidy. But efficiency, when it comes to teaching and learning, is not worth valorizing. Schools are not factories, nor are learning or learners products of the mill.

I immediately become deeply skeptical when I hear the word “content” in a discussion about education, particularly when it is accompanied by the word “packaged.” It is not that education is without content altogether, but that its content is co-constructed as part of and not in advance of the learning.

Critical Pedagogy is concerned less with knowing and more with a voracious not-knowing. It is an on-going and recursive process of discovery. For Freire, “Knowledge emerges only through invention and re-invention, through the restless, impatient, continuing, hopeful inquiry human beings pursue in the world, with the world, and with each other.” Here, the language echoes the sort of learning Freire describes. With a flurry of adjectives and clauses separated by commas, his sentence circles around its subject, wandering, pushing restlessly at the edges of how words make meaning — not directly through literal translation into concepts, but in the way words rub curiously against one another, making meaning through a kind of friction. Knowledge emerges in the interplay between multiple people in conversation — brushing against one another in a mutual and charged exchange or dialogue. Freire writes, “Authentic education is not carried on by ‘A’ for ‘B’ or by ‘A’ about ‘B,’ but rather by ‘A’ with ‘B’.” It is through this impatient dialogue, and the implicit collaboration within it, that Critical Pedagogy finds its impetus toward change.

In place of the banking model, Freire advocates for “problem-posing education,” in which a classroom or learning environment becomes a space for asking questions — a space of cognition not information. Vertical (or hierarchical) relationships give way to more playful ones, in which students and teachers co-author together the parameters for their individual and collective learning. Problem-posing education offers a space of mutual creation not consumption. In Teaching to Transgress, bell hooks writes, “As a classroom community, our capacity to generate excitement is deeply affected by our interest in one another, in hearing one another’s voices, in recognizing one another’s presence.” This is a lively and intimate space of creativity and inquiry — a space of listening as much as speaking.

What is Critical Digital Pedagogy?

My work has wondered at the extent to which Critical Pedagogy translates into digital space. Can the necessary reflective dialogue flourish within web-based tools, within social media platforms, within learning management systems, within MOOCs? What is digital agency? To what extent can social media function as a space of democratic participation? How can we build platforms that support learning across age, race, culture, ability, geography? What are the specific affordances and limitations of technology toward these ends? If, indeed, all learning is necessarily hybrid, as I’ve argued, to what extent are Critical Pedagogy and digital pedagogy becoming also coterminous?

The wondering at these questions is, in fact, not particularly new. In his forward to Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Richard Shaull writes, “Our advanced technological society is rapidly making objects of most of us and subtly programming us into conformity to the logic of its system […] The paradox is that the same technology that does this to us also creates a new sensitivity to what is happening.” And, John Dewey writes in Schools of To-Morrow, published decades earlier, “Unless the mass of workers are to be blind cogs and pinions in the apparatus they employ, they must have some understanding of the physical and social facts behind and ahead of the material and appliances with which they are dealing”. If we are to keep every educative endeavor from becoming mill-work — from becoming only a reflection of oppressive labor practices and uneven power relationships — we must engage deeply with its reality.

Increasingly, the web is a space of politics, a social space, a professional space, a space of community. And, for better or worse, more and more of our learning is happening there. For many of us, it is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish between our real selves and our virtual selves, and in fact, these distinctions are being altogether unsettled. In “The New Learning is Ancient”, Kathi Inman Berens writes, “It doesn’t matter to me if my classroom is a little rectangle in a building or a little rectangle above my keyboard. Doors are rectangles; rectangles are portals. We walk through.” When we learn online, our feet are usually still quite literally on ground. When we interact with a group of students via streaming video, the interaction is nevertheless face-to-face. The web is asking us to reimagine how we think about space, how and where we engage, and upon which platforms the bulk of our learning happens.

In Small Pieces Loosely Joined: a Unified Theory of the Web, David Weinberger writes, “We are the true ‘small pieces’ of the Web, and we are loosely joining ourselves in ways that we’re still inventing.” Ten years ago, following the publication of Weinberger’s book, I wouldn’t have imagined the learning networks I have now built with colleagues working together (sometimes simultaneously in real time) in places as seemingly remote as Portland, Madison, Manchester, Prince Edward Island, Sydney, Cairo, and Hong Kong.

This is not to say, however, that there aren’t challenges to this sort of work. In On Critical Pedagogy, Henry Giroux argues,

Intellectuals have a responsibility to analyze how language, information, and meaning work to organize, legitimate, and circulate values, structure reality, and offer up particular notions of agency and identity. For public intellectuals, the latter challenge demands a new kind of literacy and critical understanding with respect to the emergence of the new media and electronic technologies, and the new and powerful role they play as instruments of public pedagogy.

Most digital technology, like social media or collaborative writing platforms or MOOCs, does not have its values coded into it in advance. These are tools merely, good only insofar as they are used. And platforms that do dictate too strongly how we might use them, or ones that remove our agency by too covertly reducing us and our work to commodified data, should be rooted out by a Critical Digital Pedagogy. Far too much work in educational technology starts with tools, when what we need to start with is humans.

We are better users of technology when we are thinking critically about the nature and effects of that technology. What we must do is work to encourage students and ourselves to think critically about new tools (and, more importantly, the tools we already use). And when we’re looking for solutions, what we most need to change is our thinking and not our tools.

In short, Critical Digital Pedagogy:

  • centers its practice on community and collaboration;
  • must remain open to diverse, international voices, and thus requires invention to reimagine the ways that communication and collaboration happen across cultural and political boundaries;
  • will not, cannot, be defined by a single voice but must gather together a cacophony of voices;
  • must have use and application outside traditional institutions of education.

A Critical Digital Pedagogy demands that open and networked educational environments must not be merely repositories of content. They must be platforms for engaging students and teachers as full agents of their own learning.

Pete Rorabaugh writes in “Occupy the Digital: Critical Pedagogy and New Media”:

Critical Pedagogy, no matter how we define it, has a central place in the discussion of how learning is changing in the 21st century because Critical Pedagogy is primarily concerned with an equitable distribution of power. If students live in a culture that digitizes and educates them through a screen, they require an education that empowers them in that sphere, teaches them that language, and offers new opportunities of human connectivity.

Critical Pedagogy is as much a political approach as it is an educative one. As Sean Michael Morris writes, it is “a social justice movement first, and an educational movement second.”

So, Critical Digital Pedagogy must also be a method of resistance and humanization. It is not simply work done in the mind, on paper, or on screen. It is work that must be done on the ground. It is not ashamed of its rallying cry or its soapbox. Critical Digital Pedagogy eats aphorisms — like this one right here — for breakfast. But it is not afraid to incite, to post its manifestos, to light its torches.


Hybrid Pedagogy uses an open collaborative peer review process. This piece was reviewed by Sean Michael Morris and Valerie Robin.

[Photo, “Electric Sun“, by Andreas licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.]

Social Media is Learning Media

My last session of the day is “Social Media is Learning Media” by Patrick Larkin. I have seen Patrick’s work at iPad Summits for years and I’m excited to see him present again. I’m always excited to see administrators talk about Social Media in a positive, empowering way.

Patrick talks about the power of Social Media in his own career. When he was building technology programs at Burlington High School, there were not a lot of people doing similar work in Massachusetts or even the Northeast. Using Social Media enabled him to connect with other educators around the world. Education can be a lonely and isolating job; we spend most of our time with children and adolescents. Social Media can enable us to expand our experiences outside of the classroom, schools, and districts.

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Patrick begins by citing Will Richardson’s article, “My Kids are Illiterate. Most Likely, Yours are Too.” What he was talking about was the fact that kids these days are not able to use media in a meaningful way, to curate, asses, and analyze online content. For example, have you fallen for one of those online hoaxes, like “Modern Family Cancelled!” If you had basic digital literacy, you could have quickly assessed whether or not the source was valid (The Onion generally is not).

Patrick then explains his own journey with Twitter. He got online because he was told to check it out at a conference, but didn’t quite get it. However, when it they announced that the President was going to give a “big announcement”, he did a quick twitter search and learned before it went live that the announcement would be the death of bin Laden. You must know and understand how to assess a reputable source. People get duped all of the time. So we need to teach our kids how to assess online content.

As a principal at Burlington High School, Patrick focused on the school’s mission which included educating students to be good citizens. He then argued that students need to be good digital citizens as well.

As Patrick grew as an educator and administrator, he also learned the power of blogging. By posting blog articles about various tools and policies, others would reach out to him. When he first became a Principal, they had a no cell phone policy in the school. Teachers, however, were frustrated that students couldn’t use smartphones to do quick google searches or to look up content. So they changed their policy!

He then was able to guest post for Richard Byrnes on FreeTech4TEachers. As their programs expanded, he was able to host a respectful communication and commentary online via his Principal’s blog! He said that it also empowered them to celebrate their successes. With these web tools, you can put out good news every day, from classrooms to teachers to district wide!

In addition to posting a blog, learn to follow various blogs. I appreciate the shout out to mine Patrick! Using an RSS reader, you can set up your consumption tools. You can also tweet out content. Feedly is a great service for doing this.

Students can use these tools in powerful ways. “It’s amazing what students can do when we just step back a little!” What a powerful statement. We all went to “traditional” schools and classrooms, so backing off and allowing social learning to proceed can freak us out. Patrick notes that we can’t go without good educators, but that empowering students coupled with skilled educators.

Patrick also discusses with us how he created a Social Media PD day with his faculty. He sat them down over an hour, had them set up a twitter account, established a hashtag, and engaged in a twitter chat for an hour. That is just awesome! Patrick is a strong Twitter advocate. He tells us that you can find out anything you want on twitter. Check out the hashtag #edchat.

Social Media also makes us think about what learning environments look like. We can now take things out of the classroom. If a student is out of school for illness, they can Facetime with their partners and complete the assignment. students can physically leave a classroom and learn as a group in other environment.

Using tools like Google Drive, they were able to encompass more dynamic methods of teacher evaluations. Using 8 topics (listed above in his source tools), teachers could share their own examples of meeting those standards. Using a google form to assess walk-throughs.

Another great tool for administrative meeting is using Google Hangouts. I love Hangouts, they’re a great way to engage with users who are (physically) all over. They are now under the GAFE umbrella, which means you can use them with students. You can also check out unhangouts from MIT.

Patrick also highlights that we need to celebrate those who are willing to try and fail.

‘it’s no longer enough to do powerful work if no one sees it.” – Chris Lehmann. I also love Kevin Honeycutt’s “Stop being secret geniuses!” You need to share and engage with others. Participate in EdCamps, build your online presence, engage with others professionals.

Social Media often has a negative backlash. However, Patrick is quick to note that the issue is the person, not the tool. Bad people with bad intentions are going to use whatever tools available to them. Tools does not turn good people into monsters.