The video is another reminder that we are teaching students to exist in a dynamic 21st Century environment. Our job is to prepare them for that future, using all the relevant available tools.

One of those tools is :

The use of  Social Networking in Education. This is my second topic for the ELPCG1 Research Journal.

Firstly, let us briefly define Social Networking in general, and then how it can be applied in the learning environments.

Building a word cloud for the definition of Social Networking reveals that it is all about collaborative information sharing.

Wordle: Defining Social Network.

Words such as “communicate, interaction, construct, community, building, create” inform us of its function to connect groups in order to share information, opinions and ideas. Online social networking extends the possibility of this collaboration to a global scale.  So how does this affect our classrooms?

A recent survey found that 93.4% of students in Victoria engaged in some kind of daily Social Networking. Yet only 36.1% of teachers surveyed had used it for educational purposes. (p.p 2-4, de Zwart et al. 2011).

Our students already have access to a very powerful and immediate medium. Used incorrectly, social networking can have lasting social, emotional and legal ramifications. (pp.1-4, de Zwart et.al. 2011) We must teach our students appropriate online conduct.

We have moved from the time of Broadcast media where a central figure disseminated information. Social Media is a two-way transmission, a collaborative venture that is  fuelled by clips sent via YouTube, Facebook and email. (p. 28, Boyd,2010). Concomitantly, we are moving away from an education pedagogy that touted a teacher-centric/information transmission approach. Today’s terms such as emergent curriculum, dialogic pedagogy, inquiry-based  and problem-based learning all require a collaborative and learner-centric environment. Furthermore, Churchill identifies a new learning style “technological”  to include with “visual, kinaesthetic and  linguistic.” (p. 226, Churchill, 2011). Social Networking can help to foster these pedagogies and learning styles in our learning space.

It can also benefit our ability to engage students in a meaningful way. Used correctly, it is a fairly low-cost educational tool that can widen our classroom reach.

Perhaps you would like to study Antarctica? Unfortunately the school excursion budget does not stretch to fly your class of thirty students down there for a look-see.

Perhaps you are an art teacher and would love for your Year 11 students to consult with an Art Curator from MOMA about their final assessment projects. Of course, you are in Narranderra. Or Wagga Wagga.

Or Gawler.

Do not despair, teachers with small field trip budgets. There are several Social Networking tools designed specifically to enhance our learning environments such as http://education.skype.com/ which details how to use Skype for education. Projects range from a monthly Book Club with American middle school students to discussions with climbers that have conquered Mount Everest.

I hope after reading this and the next four posts, I will have convinced you to at least consider investigating the use of Social Networking in your classrooms. Perhaps our classrooms can set up a collaborative venture in the future and we can work together to instill best practice methods in our 21st Century students.

Resources

Boyd, D. Streams of Content, Limited Attention : The Flow of Information Throughout Social Media, (2010). EDUCAUSE Review, vol. 45, no. 5 (September/October 2010): 26–36.  http://www.educause.edu/EDUCAUSE+Review/EDUCAUSEReviewMagazineVolume45/StreamsofContentLimitedAttenti/213923

Churchill et al.  (2011). Teaching Making a Difference. John Wiley & Sons, Australia.

de Zwart, M., Lindsay, D., Henderson, M., Phillips, M., Teenagers, Legal Risks and Social Networking Sites, (2011).  Monash University, Faculty of Education Building 6 Monash University Victoria 3800 Australia.

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