Social Media and Education

Archive for the ‘Social Media Policies’ Category

Thanks to @ShellTerrell for sharing this link. I am looking forward to your comments.

Thanks to Aaron Eyler for his insights and voice on important issues in education.  I encourage you to follow him on Twitter and join in the #edchat discussions.

Does Education Deserve An “F” In Social Media?.

As an older digital citizen, I find it interesting how kids stick with a video game. They will sit for hours with their DS, their xBox, their Playstation, ect. starting various levels of play over and over again until they have mastered the technique. In school, teachers try to get our students to master a times table or a list of helping verbs. They are lucky if only half of the class needs remediation.

The people who make video games are on to something. They provide just enough interest and challenge to keep kids reaching for that next level. But it is more than that. It is the reward at the end. It is not a reward of monetary or physical value. It is nothing you can hold in your hand. It is a reward of accomplishment. It is a reward you hold in your psyche. It is rescuing the Fair Maiden.

I use the imagery of the Fair Maiden, because she was the person to be rescued in the old video game, Donkey Kong. I hate to think of how much money I spent trying to rescue that lass. It wasn’t a game I owned. I played it at the arcade and at the pizza joint up the street. Mastering those levels were the mini-goals that kept me coming back, hoping against hope that I would one day save the Fair Maiden.

As teachers, what can we learn from the insatiable desire of our students to work through failure after failure in a video game in the hopes of an intangible measure of success. How do we get them to look at learning in the same way? How do we get them to be so involved in learning that they can think on nothing else? I try to figure that out every day.

Here is an example. Recently, I introduced my students to Glogster. Glogster is an online program that helps its users develop and publish digital poster. The graphics are excellent. The tools are easily mastered. It’s safe for kids.

I told my kids there were some levels to be mastered. I alluded to a reward. The kids jumped right into the site. They taught themselves to choose and manipulate the graphics. They learned how to add text and photos. They learned how to add music and videos. They learned how to create hyperlinks. Then, they started to wonder what would happen next. I told them we would figure something out.

We started talking about Science projects. We had done some earlier in the year. The kids had written reports, made power point presentations. created dioramas, and posters. I told them that this time around, I wanted to see if they could come up with a way to show their work with some kind of digital media. I loaded the music from 2001 A Space Odyssey in my CD player and leaned back in my chair while they talked.

I am not sure who came up with the idea first. I only know that it wasn’t me. Suddenly it was everyone’s idea – Glogster! Everyone wanted to use Glogster. I gave them a list of topics from which they could freely choose. Then I stopped them. There were more levels to be played.

They had to do research. They needed information from books, from the web, from experts in the field. They jumped right into the project. They collected their information and wrote citations for their resources. They assembled a database for those things as well as supplemental pictures, videos, and hyperlinks. Some added bits of music or wrote tracks in Garage Band. Then, I turned them loose in Glogster.

Their projects are due next week. I can’t wait to see what they have created. Granted, I can take sneak peeks through my Glogster account. I just really don’t want to do that. They are so excited. I don’t want to say anything in the way of comments or advice. I want them to continue to relish their learning.

It is also interesting that some of them seem to think that using Glogster is their Fair Maiden. What they don’t yet realize is that their Love Of Learning is the Fair Maiden I wanted them to rescue all along.

Rick

Everywhere I turn, I hear writers, speakers, teachers, and others dry the decades old practice of industrialized education. My heart and my voice has often joined them. Now, it’s time to move on. It’s time to stop complaining and do something about it. It’s time to stop waiting for someone else to take the lead. It’s time to practice what we preach.

I don’t know about you, but I left a pretty good career to become a teacher. I did it because I truly believe I can make a difference in the life of a child. I believe I can teach any child to learn to love learning. I believe I can change lives. I do it every day. I bet you do, too.

Things have been changing, though. I feel that circumstances and politics are threatening my purpose in teaching. I hear that my skill as a teacher will be judged by whether or not my students learn better than their peers across my state. My skill will not be judged by my students’ abilities to make good choices, to act with respect, responsibility, and kindness. My skill will not be judged by their ability to collaborate and problem-solve with global learning partners. My skill will not be judged by my ability to work with parents and guardians to ensure a safe home environment for their kids. My skill will be judged by the scores of 27-30 students and whether or not they had a good day when they took a series of high-stakes tests.

I recoil at the destruction of learning-centered classrooms in the name of efficiency. We know that our students learn in both common and diverse ways. The efficiency model sounds inviting because it tells us a student should be able to go anywhere in a school district or anywhere in the country and be on exactly the same page as every other student of his or her age. Sounds nice, doesn’t it. It’s a crock.

Carry that thought out logically; no more ESL programs to help those kids, no more classes for special needs, no more gifted-talented programs. Oh, but wait, that would only be if we believe ALL children in America should have access to a quality education. The only other way to achieve that efficiency model is to do as China, India, and others do; Kids with particular “deficiencies” are left out. It’s too expensive to provide them with an education. Pass the test and you get to go to middle school. Fail, go to work in a menial, repetitive job if you can find one. Pass of few more high-stakes tests after taking the same courses as others who passed and you can go to the university. There, you can forget about liberal arts and humanities. You will get your engineering degree and design collective work projects to employ those who could not pass the tests.

Sorry. I threw in a couple of rants there – back to the subject. It’s time to move on. We need to take our skills and our credibility and move into the spheres of influence of our district. We must look for opportunities to make our voices heard. Heard not as whiners and complainers, but heard as unified voices of reason and purpose. To be credible to administrators, we must show the evidences of success in classrooms that reach beyond the standardized tests. We must show our students working and learning in social media contexts; video, film, podcasts, blogs, forums, websites, and more. Get your students’ parents on board with you. Parents are voters and voters make or break school board members. Speaking of them, invite them to your classroom. Let them see first hand how you create contexts for student learning. If you have to, let them think your ideas are their own. Few politicos and admins will argue with success.

Create a blog. Join Twitter. Join a Ning in Education group. Look for colleagues on Linkedin. Download an RSS feed reader and begin to aggregate blogs of like-minded educators. Build a Professional Learning Network. Save bookmarks of meaningful sites. Join FaceBook.

Do all of those things and learn from your PLN how to use them effectively as an educator. You need to do this because your students are already doing most of them. Chances are, your administrators know little or nothing of them. Someone has to be able to talk to them intelligently about their possibilities as educational tools. That “someone” needs to be you.

Are you working on making a difference in your school district? Are you one of the one’s who is moving on? I would love to hear your story. Please share it here.

Thanks,
Rick


The Educator’s PLN

Teaching Tech-Savvy Kids

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