“We are constantly challenging our students to be life long-learners. Educators need to consistently and constantly educate themselves. The tools for education today lie in the technology.” (T Whitby 2013) I guess that is why we are on the Mindlab journey. Challenging our thinking about pedagogy, the power of collaboration and the use of digital tools to enhance our student’s learning.
The digital era has seen social media popularity expand across sectors and at different levels. In education, social media has been increasingly adopted to enrich the learning environment. Pearson’s survey (Seaman & Tinti-Kane, 2013) shows that there was an increase of 21.3% from 2012 to 2013 in social media use in teaching. This is a clear indication that teachers see that changing their delivery of the curriculum and encouraging pupils to connect with others is really happening and is valuable.
We know that social networking allows freedom and autonomy to construct and to develop one's own understanding while collaborating with others. As responsible educators we must teach core values and instil in our pupils an ability to discern, if we are going to engage in the use of social media and digital tools in the classroom.
Technology accessibility and the pace of advancement to all communities both local and international has resulted in changes to aspects of the general education system, including the professional learning medium for educators (Melhuish, 2013). With this in mind I challenged myself to think whether I act as a life-long learner and how I use social media to construct my own learning. Twitter was my first experience of a social online network. I readily grasped the concept of using it to expand my knowledge and connect to other educators. I am very grateful to the friends who patiently sat with me back in 2009, helped me upload a photo so I wasn’t an egg and taught me how to tweet.
Facebook was a second platform as I didn’t quite understand the purpose of it but blithely joined the bandwagon regardless. It is now my preferred social media for personal connections and with the advent of the New Zealand teacher page this has replaced my initial use of Twitter. Twitter is where I still look for serious debate as I value the opinions of the educators I have followed over time as many of them are experts within an educational context and often a simple question will lead me to other experts, websites or research.
The pupils in my classes have only benefitted from my use of social media where they have allowed me to access and use resources in the classroom and have improved my pedagogy. Therefore, inadvertently not actively.
Youtube has been an invaluable tool for me in the classroom. It has been used to view content on a regular basis but has also been a vital tool when connecting with parents. I have used Youtube for example, to encourage the children to explain the different strategies they were learning in Mathematics. The whãnau really valued this as their children were the stars and learning was explained in a Khan academy style of presentation with an interactive element. These were added to our blog.
Blogging has been a way I can involve our families other classes in New Zealand and break open the four walls. There is a genuine audience for children’s work and comments have meant that interaction has had a sense of connectivity. I have learned the value of understanding settings on various social media through the use of Classdojo. I inadvertently invited parents to view their child’s behaviour progress. This connected parents with the classroom but was not the purpose of my use of this tool.
I would like, as Melhuish (2013) states, to use social media that will “enable collaboration, connectivity, openness and information sharing” I am keen to explore KidschatNZ and Chapterchat which both use Twitter as the social media. The challenges facing the use of this in the classroom will be addressed primarily by having a class account rather than individual ones. Etiquette can be modelled and issues surrounding privacy and access will be explored. How to be Cyber safe and act as a global citizen will be taught and revisited. Ignoring the use of social media and the power it has to connect us is far more detrimental than embracing it with some regulation.
Office of Ed Tech. (2013, Sep 18). Connected Educators. [video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=216&v=K4Vd4JP_DB8
Seaman, J., & Tinti-Kane, H. (2013). Social media for teaching and learning. Retrieved from http://www.pearsonlearningsolutions.com/assets/downloads/reports/social-media-for-teaching-and-learning-2013-report.pdf#view=FitH,0