Possibilities with Social Media

12 Aug

It was requested yesterday by one of my readers (I say ‘one of my readers’ because it makes it seem like I actually have a readership) that I elaborate more on the ways in which I use social media in my classroom.

After much thought about this (consisting of a cup of milo and 1 hour of Restaurant City on Facebook) I came to the decision that I wouldn’t write about my own use of social media in the classroom as an educational tool, but rather share with you all what my colleagues are doing right now and how I am learning off them as well.

This is purely due to the fact that everything I am doing as far as Web 2.0 tools are concerned as part of my teaching/learning is what other colleagues of mine here at school are doing as well. So to tell you about what I’m doing would not be giving credit to those others who showed me some of these tools in the first place and gave me added inspiration to continue using them.

Let me begin by introducing some of you to the world of Ning. Ning is a great social and professional networking site with many aspects taken from both myspace and facebook so users that are familiar with both will love it.

Basically it allows you to search, create and update social networks based on professional and educational association. A certain colleague of mine who has been THE champion for social media in the classroom for a long time now introduced me to Ning earlier this year. And I have not looked back.

Just this week, a social network dedicated to staff and students at our school was created by this colleague and already dozens of students have joined up. How did the know about this? It’s easy: He showed them how to sign up to Ning and how to use it in the classroom.

Why hide these tools from our students? They are going to find them anyway, they are socially the most confident generation to walk the world yet. (And I’m proud to be a part of that generation)

So then what did I do after hearing this from him? Simple: I did exactly the same thing with the rest of my classes that day. It was excitement, some cynicism, but mostly excitement, coming from the students as I showed them how Ning works (which is much like most other social network sites today) and got them to sign up. To my non-amazement a few had already signed up and one had, to my amusement, already requested to add them as a friend on the network.

Within the school’s network page I have created one for the subject that I teach, being media studies. The beauty of Ning’s privacy controls is that an administrator can reject and accept whoever they want to be a part of the network, which is very important when it involves children since we teachers have a duty of care.

Some of the other innovative things we are doing in the classroom are:

– Using Youtube as part of our regular viewing programs, especially in the areas of the Arts and English.

– Developing online presentations as part of our lessons and showing students how to use these tools, tools such as prezi.com

– Informing students about blogs and how to blog using sites such as wordpress.com.

I think I might be the first in this area, though. Which is probably a rare thing since that other certain colleague of mine is usually the first to something.

Recently I gave my year 11 media students an assessment task as part of their 1B course of study. The unit focuses on Point of View and we are looking at feature articles as a way to learn how the media positions an audience. What I asked my students to do, rather than plan, draft and print out a feature article using MS Word, I informed them about wordpress. Since then, every one of my 15 students in that class has registered their own wordpress account and have now uploaded their feature articles on the www. This is fantastic and it is very heartening to see that some of them have even gone further and posted other articles to their site.

In discussion with the colleague that showed me Ning, he shared with me the way that students open up and will actually be honest with you via social networking and media, so much more than in the classroom. It is a fantastic venue for students who may be more introverted in the classroom, to express themselves and share their opinions and ideas.

I would recommend social media as a part of a teachers learning program to almost anyone currently working in the field or studying.

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2 Responses to “Possibilities with Social Media”

  1. Tomaz Lasic August 12, 2009 at 3:08 am #

    Hello to fellow blogger! Didn’t know you’ve joined the ranks, great to see.

    Doing a great job Simon and thanks for ‘walking the path’ of showing how social media can genuinely make a difference, sometimes in the most unexpected, serendipitous yet very humanly powerful way.

    You kids are lucky to have you in class, colleagues to have you at school. Keep up the good work!

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  1. Possibilities with Social Media « West Coast Left - August 12, 2009

    […] Possibilities with Social Media « West Coast Left Tags: colleagues, front-page, network, recent-entries, search-it, social-media, space, west-coast-left […]

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