Category Archives: Twitter

Making International Connections!

This week was very exciting in my Social 9 class and for my Learning Project. We have been working on making some handouts in a jigsaw activity and this week students shared them on their blogs (except one group…more on that a little later), we linked our group members’ blogs to our own, and we had a small reflection that was to be posted. I modeled how to link, and how to attach our handouts on my SMART Board and some of my students helped to support their peers one-on-one. Some of my students, such as Sydney, did an amazing job by already linking her summary to various other information in her post, some were still at a beginners level. I shared my reflection on our progress so far to Twitter and the magic happened!

I would like to send a HUGE thank you to Sue Wyatt who runs the Student Blogging Challenge on Edublogs as she went in and commented on many of my students’ blogs. Not only that, she asked questions and provided some additional information via links or videos, and she related our knowledge of First Nations culture and history in Canada with that of her home country, Australia. I am honestly not sure who was more excited, my students or myself. This was what I had hoped for when starting blogging with my students and it was happening, and a lot sooner than I had hoped for!

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So this week, we replied to comments on our blogs (after a conversation that went Students: “But what do I do if someone asked me a question?”, Me: “Answer it!”), we finished up our first “true posts”, and we started our Current Events assignment for November, which I will be requiring to be posted on the blogs by November 30 (our regular due date). This upcoming week, we will be completing a Location Research Project and learning how to cite our sources for information and for images when blogging as it is different than if they are sourcing in print. We will also be commenting on our peers’ blog posts for this assignment.

I learned a few different things about using Edublogs this week that I wanted to share as well:

  • Once I have reviewed and published each post, students cannot go back in and edit it. I have the security setting set so that I have to approve all posts and comments before they are “live” and one of my groups was not quite done their handout when I published some of their posts. This is something I will have to keep in mind for the future and will be looking into maybe I just didn’t find the correct button to allow this.
  • Once I have approved a comment, students were able to respond to comments and they were published without my approval. This is something I am okay with but I will have to ensure I watch the comments while we are still learning how to be appropriate online.

I am so excited with how well this project is going and I am hoping to continue it for the entirety of the year with my class and continue into future years. Outside of my next few planned assignments, I hope to find another class that we can start to interact with. Has anyone done pen pals or blog pals? Is there a specific site that helped you find a buddy-class or do you have any suggestions on how I can get started?


Social Media + Teaching = ????

When looking at social media, I took a moment to reflect on my first experiences with various networks. I had a MySpace account, I don’t think that anything that I had posted on it “about me” was true. I was still nervous about putting myself out there on the internet, where anybody could find me. I have had accounts with many other different sites, some that have come and gone, some that probably still exist somewhere but are rarely used.

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I created my Facebook account in 2007 and, at that time, was one of the very first people in my school to get one. I know this from the confused looks I received from my peers when I asked them about Facebook. A childhood friend of mine had told me I should join the network, that it was the next big thing, and so I did. Facebook was 100% me and I definitely overshared (sometimes I hate seeing the “On This Day” posts….cue a major face palm!). Over time, I have limited some of what I share, I no longer update my status multiple times a day, I try to only share the important things, and I filter what I share and like based upon those that I am connected with on the site….more on this later.

I joined Twitter my first year of university in Alec’s ECMP 355 course. It was so different for me to experience and it took me a LONG time to decide that I like the platform (as in, I only really started enjoying using it during the Winter 2017 term for ECI 834)). It was too random for me to fully embrace the way it shared information.

When thinking about teaching in the digital age, I have to admit that I do not really know any other way. In internship I created a Wikispace with all of my assignments. Shortly after starting in my first (and current) position I created a classroom Facebook page and encouraged students and parents to connect. For me, many of the forms of social media have always been there. The major change that I have seen in my teaching career is the shift towards a focus of including these digital tools and various forms of social media into the classroom in a meaningful way.

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Even though I may be considered a digital native in teaching, it does not mean that I do not have concerns over social media in schools. I worry about cyberbullying, about inappropriate content, and about not knowing how or when to interact with others online. I also worry about some of the things that I am guilty of: oversharing and sharing information that may not be safe to share (age, address, full name, etc.). I have many fears about having students online but none of them overshadow my strong belief that students today need to learn and understand how to use the internet and various forms of social media to access the knowledge they seek and, as Pavan Arora states, students need to learn how to apply the vast amount of knowledge that they can access.

I really resonated with Michael Wesch‘s comment that we need to be focusing more on what types of questions our students are asking as opposed to what and how are we teaching content. I think that this is a critical aspect of teaching in the digital age and have had many students ask me over my career “why am I learning this if I can just Google it?” or “why can’t I just use the app?” and each time I have stepped back and had to look at how I am teaching and how it can be more meaningful for my students. Sometimes, it comes down to a simple, yet unfortunate, “because that is what the curriculum asks you to do to earn the credit”, but often these questions cause me to come up with a new way of covering a topic, it pushes me to encourage students to come up with the content themselves through inquiry, a tactic that I enjoy using in my math class. By allowing my students to create the knowledge for themselves, they gain an ownership of their learning which helps them buy in to the other concepts that may not lend themselves to this as easily.

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By using blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms, we are helping our students learn to connect and interact with others from around the world in a professional manner. There is a definite need for ensuring that our students have a deep understanding of digital citizenship before embarking on this experience but, without allowing them to experience the open internet, I would argue that there is no way to be sure they understand what it means to be a digital citizen. When looking at integrating various types of technology, including social media, into our classrooms, Shelby mentions that we need to ensure that we are integrating the technology for authentic reasons as students can easily recognize when we are implementing something for the sake of implementing it. John Seely Brown and Richard Adler state that Web 2.0 is about connections, not just about information. I feel that this is the niche that social media can play in our classrooms. Brown and Adler also touch on research that demonstrates that a social aspect of education is essential and that students that meet in study groups tend to see greater success in their courses, something that is echoed in Jacque‘s mention of a student who regularly attends study groups. To push this to the limit, there is the case of a group of students taking notes simultaneously on a Google Doc and the interesting questions it raises about the importance of the course if these notes could be accessed without attending or could be forwarded to the next cohort of students.

Where do you fall on the scale of digital native to digital immigrant? Do you have a variety of different social media accounts? Which ones, if any, would you feel comfortable integrating into your classroom with either your personal or a professional account?

 


Third Time’s the Charm

This past week I have been thinking about my learning project. I had asked Alec about creating an open-source textbook and how that would work into the project and spent some time mulling over how I would like it to work. The more I thought about it, the more I wasn’t so sure that it was what I wanted to do. Trash can for Idea #1.

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I looked into different things I could learn. I asked my students, I asked my brother. Ideas of Spanish (we recently had three students who speak minimal English join our school, so it would be practical), sewing (similar to Shelby  and Ashley, I love Hallowe’en and enjoy make elaborate costumes so sewing could be a handy skill), and my brother was excited to suggest coding (being the electrical engineer that he is) and even offered me his Arduino to learn and practice with . And yet with all of these great ideas, my heart was just not into any of them. Trash can for Idea #2.

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AND THEN….our school became a little crazy. With newly added staffing of 0.5 FTE, new timetables for all grades 7-12 (and minor changes in PreK-6), and transitioning students to new teachers, my learning project took a rest in the back of my brain to simmer until the hectic was (mostly) over. After things had slowed down, I realized exactly what I wanted to do for my learning project, something I had wanted to do for a long time but had just never been able to get going properly: having my students blog as part of their course.

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Photo Credit: MarcelaPalma Flickr via Compfight cc

So social media and open education implementation it is! It may sound like this was a last resort, but to be honest, the more I think about it, the more I have been getting excited about it. I have decided that I will implement blogging with my Social 9 class. I have already decided that I would allow my students more choice in the societies we study this year, developing units as inquiry and independent learning tasks with various supported activities. Using blogs for students to share their learning and interact with the public world, seemed like an easy and authentic fit for blogging! Last step before starting down the planning stages: clear with my administration, which was received very well (and with some personal anecdotes of their experiences).

And so we begin! I am still looking for what platform I will use, I want to play around with a couple before starting, the biggest annoyance for me when integrating something new is not liking the platform or program I choose and finding one WAY better suited to my needs a couple days after I have rolled it out. This may still happen but I want to try to eliminate the majority of the disappointment of missing out on a great platform. I like using WordPress for my personal blog but I’m not sure if that is the best option to use with my students, I know some use Edublogs but I don’t have personal experience using that platform.

Goals for my project:

  • Set up individual student blogs
  • Teach my students about blogging, integrating images and videos, and commenting on others’ posts
  • Create a unit plan that requires blogging about their progress through the unit as well as reflection questions and requirements around embedding videos, linking to websites, and sharing their sources they use.
  • Encourage students to use Twitter to interact with experts. I’m not sure if this will be done through their personal Twitter accounts or if I will use my account to tweet on their behalf. If you have suggestions around this, please share!
  • Encourage parent interaction with their child’s blog so they can see what is going on in class.

My Idealistic Product

I would love for my students to Skype or instant message an expert in the field they are studying, or maybe even just someone who has been to one of the sites they will study but I am not positive that I will be able to make this happen. I am definitely going to try but don’t want to set the bar so high I will never attain it! (On a side note, the first societies we will look at are Egypt and Mesopotamia, if you know or are an expert, lets chat!)

On my way

The plotting…. I mean planning… begins. I have a bit of time as we have just started a unit that I would like to finish before implementing this project but the learning about blogging will likely start sooner than our actual unit of study.

Have you used blogs in your classroom? Where did you host them? Do you have any suggestions or know of any “experts”? Let me know in the comments!


Social media addiction is real: My story

OR: “EC&I 831 – Social Media & Open Education” pre-class impressions.

I am addicted to learning, and information overstimulates my brain.

After many years using the Internet to feed my addiction, I decided it was time to change. I took two weeks off in June 2016, and I established only one rule for those days: zero technology. Flowers, tomato trees, paper books, craft materials, and photographs were my new companions. I felt at peace. The urge to turn my computer on before washing my face in the morning and the ridiculous habit of pressing the “F” key to open Facebook, when I should open Microsoft Word to write a paper, were no longer part of my new routine.

Currently, I can say that I have a healthy relationship with digital information.

A week ago, I received Dr. Couros‘ email saying that blogging and posting on Twitter are assignments: real assignments. Yeah, it was hard to believe as you can see from my first post on Twitter using the course hashtag:

What I meant was: Seriously?! 

I was afraid that my addiction would come back, and instead of pressing “F”, I would start pressing “T” every time I needed a computer for working or studying.

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Cartoon by Brad Fitzpatrick

It is not new to me that there are great things on Twitter, but not using it was just a personal option. Since I am a very disciplined student, I spent some time (too much time?) after our first class thinking about my profile on Twitter and trying new hashtags related to my job, such as #leadership#highered, and #studentaffairs. I am not addicted to Twitter (yet), but my brain really enjoyed the new activity:

The dream is a true story. So is the fear of social media relapse.

As an educator working in a higher education setting and advising millennial students on a daily basis, I registered on this course to learn how to integrate technology into my practices more deliberately and creatively.

After reviewing the principles of the Digital Detox class I took last year, before I became a “Facebook user in recovery”, and watching a new (to me) interview with one of my favourite speakers about social media addiction, I realized that it is possible to have a healthy relationship with social media and fully enjoy my EC&I 831 course! 😀

Tell me in the comments:

How is your relationship with social media? Am I the only one facing a love-hate relationship with it?

The link for comments is below the title. Thank you for asking me about this, Colleen 🙂