Friday, December 02, 2011

Social media: 4 opportunities for secondary education

Not too long ago I went to an evening session about social media at the secondary school of my daughter. It struck me how the subject of social media is approached from fear. I was very happy when I was invited to do three sessions for the teachers of a secondary school myself. You can imagine that it was not about fear, but about the 4 opportunities that social media offer.
  1. Opportunity to learn in communities with other teachers - nationally and internationally

  3. Innovation in the way classes are conducted

  5. Adding 'mediaknowledge' (mediawijsheid) to the curriculum

  7. Opportunity for reputation management online - make your students ambassadors!

Below you will find my presentation in Dutch.

After the presentation there was the opportunity to explore tools in a 'tooltour'; sitting in small groups or individually behind a computer. Twitter was popular, but also RSS readers like igoogle were appreciated, to follow a few interesting sites or blogs. A group explored wikis and discussed the idea to put examresults on a wiki up for questions. Now a lot of questions are received by email. Using a wiki might be a more efficient way. We found out the twitter account with the name of the school was already taken, probably by a few students (10 students were following that account).

Docenten #varendonck over innovatie in de les met sociale media on TwitpicThe last part of the afternoon was World Café- like. The 4 opportunities were placed on 4 tables with a few questions. In two rounds, teachers could chose the subject they would like to discuss. It was impressive to see the topic was very much alive and touches something, even though not all teachers are happy with social media. The presentation was still quite overwhelming.

The table about learning in teacher communities started talking about education in the future. They thought it was slightly off-topic but I think it is relevant enough: your ideas about the future of education will determine the importance you attach to social media and social learning. The group discussing how to teach students about smart uses of social media discovered that many thought this is covered in other classes, but in reality the school was rather reacting to incidents instead of having a systematic way of incorporating it in the curriculum. 

What struck me in the informal conversations with teachers is that there are huge differences in the way teachers react to these opportunities. A minority are real pioneers, read edublogs, twitter, experiment and are excited. Others (the majority) are slightly sceptic and fear that they will have to spend more time behind the computer ("I prefer to make music and run!). Practical applications to improve lessons are appealing. A few feared that using social media in class makes teachers vulnerable. What if they play games or chat with friends on Facebook rather than doing their assignments? How to prevent teachers being explosed on the web in ways they do not like? I'd say you need to offer structure and make clear agreements on what to do and what not to do.

Lastly there seemed to be a need for some guidelines for teachers how to deal with social media (do you friend teachers, do you share? do you read?). Everybody is now learning and deciding on his/her own.However, such guidelines need enough freedom for teachers to develop a strategy that fits their personality and preferences.

1 comment:

dissertations said...

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