Web 2.0 & Social Media in Lessons
As we aim to broaden our students knowledge of the world, connections and communication becomes more important. Teaching through Web 2.0 allows students to communicate with others, instead of just a one directionally path with no authentic audience input (Hew & Cheung, 2012, p.48). Collaborative approaches to learning are key to helping students construct knowledge together.
In my classroom, I have used a number of Web 2.0 and social media tools to support learning:
Edmodo is like Facebook for education but fits the needs of my students who are under age 13 (age requirement of Facebook). It can be used a general discussion board to ask questions and share resources both during the school day and after hours. As a teacher, I can post polls and also reward students with badges for their efforts. It also provides a great platform for some important digital citizenship conversations such as appropriate online communication, what to reveal about yourself, the difference between professional and personal communication, who to connect with, avatars and profiles and online image.
Available at: https://www.edmodo.com
Skype is often an under used resource. Skype allows you to make video calls to another around the world. Last year, our class did a number of Mystery Skype calls with other classrooms to develop our geography and problem solving skills. We also sang Chinese songs with another school for Chinese New Year, wrote poems together and played math games against other classes.
Available at: http://www.skype.com/
In Year 4, students create cultural blogs to explore their identities. As an international school, the students can find this task challenges with many being third-culture children. The blogs allows them the experiences of writing different posts to explore aspects of their identities and follow the journeys of their classmates and interacting with each other through the commenting features.
Available from: www.blogger.com
e-Portfolios (Google Sites)
All students at our school have e-Portfolios from K1- Year 6. This is a great way for students to reflect on their learning and select pieces of work they wish to share. Students share these portfolios with parents, teachers and other students. Together it opens the lines of communication in person and through the comments. It really helps students to know we are all working to help them grow and learning with constructive feedback and encouragement.
Available at: https://www.google.com/sites/overview.html
As a teacher, I use Twitter to connect globally with other educators. It is a great way to have short discussions while also getting ideas and resources. With the options of both private and public messages, I can easily communicate with the many educators I have met online.
Available at: https://www.twitter.com
Here are 2 articles related to introducing social media to your classroom in the Primary school:
Introducing Social Media to Elementary Students
A Guidebook for Social Media in the Classroom
Hew, K.F. & Cheung, W.S. (2012). Use of Web 2.0 Technologies in K-12 and Higher Education: The Search for Evidence-based Practice, Educational Research Review. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.edurev.2012.08.001
Like any behaviours that teachers want to instill in their students, the expectations for behaviours need to be laid out at the beginning of the year. Within the first week of school, students engage in a lesson about the acceptable use policy. They are then expected to take a copy home, sign it and review it with their parents before returning it. All students in the Primary school begin with this routine. From there, it is easy to reference back to as the students begin to do activities. Teachers must be fully versed in the acceptable use policy as well and hold their students to this standard. Our acceptable use policy is quite thorough for students and focuses on the following topics: respectful, responsibility, care for devices, privacy, accessing appropriate information, referencing, discipline and social media (Chatsworth, 2015).
Another important aspect of teaching students about digital citizenship is actually modelling it as a teacher. It is extremely frustrating as a education technology coach when teachers ask me how to do things that are illegal, not aligned with our acceptable use policy or incorrectly. If teachers do not model how to be a good digital citizen, how can we expect our students to? As teachers, we should be showing students how to engage appropriately with emails, citing our work and referencing images in presentations. We need to be leading the way when our students turn to use for the standard. One way I have done this is set up an email writing programme in the past where students email me each week and I respond with an email. From this, students understand the format of an email, appropriate email communication all while building their written communication skills and rapport with the teacher.
Digital citizenship should be embedded into the curriculum and not taught in isolation. Students need to make meaning of it by connecting it to real life experiences inside and outside of the classroom. The Year 6 students are currently doing their puberty unit and learning about body image. This also translate into their online image and how they see themselves. The teachers and students are having conversations about the impact of media and social media on their views of themselves and the images they also share. They are also discussing how to communicate appropriately on social media platforms. These topics are completely integrated, giving students context for the topics.
There are also those times when teachable moments arise. Perhaps someone posts something inappropriately online or you see another student properly reference images. These are great conversations to have in the moment even though they weren't planned. When questions come up from students about something online, you shouldn't shy away from it but rather support the student's inquiry and help build their digital citizenship schema.
One of the other things as an educator I need to be cognizant about is that educating a child is a partnership between the school and home. This is why we also need to educate our parent community. When I was a homeroom teacher, I made sure that my class parents were informed regularly about what we were doing in our classroom, the technologies we were using and conversation starters they could have with their children. As an education technology coach, I work with members of our leadership team to develop and conduct parent sessions related to their child's technology use. We also have an open door policy for parents to drop in and ask questions whenever they need to.
Educating our students to become good digital citizens is not an easy task and not a task that can be accomplished in a year. It requires the whole school to approach digital citizenship as the way of moving forward. Currently our school is looking to build a digital citizenship curriculum that is integrated into various units from kindergarten to Year 13. Together with a whole school approach, we can work to support and model good digital etiquette for our students to follow.
Chatsworth International School. (2015). Acceptable Use Policy - Chatsworth Group of Schools [internal document].
Citizenship in a Digital Age
Digital literacy is about helping our students develop the skills and behaviours to be successful in a digital age. This includes supporting our students in how to find, access, and use information they find online, communicating through various digital medias, collaborating with others and making smart decisions while using technology that demonstrates being a good citizen.
As technology becomes more accessible to the masses, digital tools provide educators and students with an unlimited amount of resources and access to information. Students need to be able to not only access the internet but be critically analyze what they discover, the source of information and its validity.
With Web 2.0, the user experience has gone from just consuming digital content to engaging and interacting with it. The ability to connect and collaborate with someone from across the globe has become easy with the various social media platforms. Through this, students can connect with experts to raise the quality of their work by getting information from the source. In doing so, students need to be aware of how their online communication really should not be that different from their offline communication. Respect, kindness and common sense should continue no matter if you blur the lines of communication to a virtual platform.
Above all, we must continue to educate our students with how to be a good citizen with how to be a good digital citizen simply as an extension of citizenship. Our students should understand that the choices they make online will remain present for all to see in the future. The pictures they post give insight into the type of person they are and their identity that extends offline. As they continue to build their online relationships, they must think about how this impacts their lives on a greater scale.
Perhaps referring to it as 'digital citizenship' is too narrowing. Being a good person is being a good person. Rather, we are educating our students of how to be a good citizen in an increasingly more digitalized world. As we educate our students for an unknown tomorrow, we must provide them with the appropriate skills and behaviours that allow them to be successful in a digital age - not only online but in every day life as well.
Risks of Online Social Networking
As students become more technologically savvy, the more they want to communicate via social networking. Social networking for students has become an integral part of their daily lives. Whether it is Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter or Instagram, students want to share aspects of life with others quickly and publicly. Roblyer & Doering (2014) state that social networking is a distraction and often increases cyberbullying. However, students have a lot to learn from using social networking if teachers use it as an educational tool and resource.
Many schools have acceptable use policies that will discourage cyberbullying and even the use of social networking on the school campus. Some schools have sites such as Facebook blocked on school networks but this doesn’t eliminate the usage of these social networking sites outside of the school boundaries. Many students still also have personal devices (ie: cell phones) which they can access the social networking sites on campus. So is it really the best solution to ban them?
Perhaps the better method of dealing with the risks of online social networking is educating our students on how to be positive digital citizens and leaders. One of the things teachers can do is educator students with a proactive stance. By teaching students how to create strong passwords, not to share passwords and report to adults when someone they don’t know contacts them or someone is acting inappropriately online. Students need to understand how digital literacy is applicable to them and use online etiquette when communicating with others.
In addition, students need to be educated about how to deal with cyberbullying. Thus, they need to learn how to become more resilient and act responsibly. Again, by taking a proactive approach to this issue, students will have the required skills and strategies to help them successfully navigate a situation when an issue does arise.
As a teacher, I also feel it is important to model appropriate online behaviour. This past year, we used Edmodo which mimics Facebook for students in a more private setting. The students learnt about creating online profiles that were appropriate for their grandmas to see and learnt how to communicate effectively and appropriately with others online. Google Classroom can be used in a similar fashion. My students know that I have a Twitter account and that I use it for a specific purpose - education. This social media network to me isn’t for my friends and family. We talk about setting clear boundaries of who you will ‘friend’ and who you will not. In addition, I have had a weekly Gmail Home Writing programme for the last two years with my Year 5 students. This has helped them grow in their understanding of proper email etiquette and online communication. These skills can be transferred to other areas of online communication as well.
There are a number of great resources to help educate students as digital citizens:
Common Sense Media
Ribble (2009) outlines the nine elements of being a digital citizen. If teachers adequately taught the necessary skills to be a good digital citizen, it is the hope that there would be a decrease in cyberbullying.
We will never be able to stop our students from participating in online social networking sites. However, it is our job to educate them so they may make choices they can be proud of and communicate in a safe manner with others.
Roblyer, M. D., & Doering, A. H. (2014). Integrating educational technology into teaching [Sixth Edition].
Ribble, M. (2009). Passport to digital citizenship: journey toward appropriate technology use at school and at home. Leading and Learning with Technology, 36(4), p. 14-17.
Social Media in the Classroom
Social media allows individuals to have a platform to communicate and connect around the globe. I agree that the bullying can continue away from the educational institute, causing the student to ever have an escape from the bullying.
We do not use social media too often with our students, have an acceptable use policy and most social media sites (Twitter, Google+ , Snapchat, etc.) are blocked on the school network. Unfortunately, this does not eliminate what happens on cell phones and personal devices that are not connected through the school wifi. One of the ways I have worked with students in a closed and supportive social media network is through Edmodo. Edmodo mimics Facebook for students in a closed group that is created and monitored by their teacher. Students can communicate, share resources, etc. in small groups, through the discussion feed and learn how to navigate social media. When using Edmodo, we discuss a lot about digital citizenship, digital footprints or digital tattoos, online identity, creating profiles, how our 'brand' is seen by others, etc. It allows students exposure to social media without some of the challenges that are experienced through open social media tools.
I have personally not had to deal large scale issues of cyberbullying. However, social media also has the opportunity to take a turn for the worst allowing the 'trolls' to come out. I use Twitter to build my Personal Learning Network (PLN), gather ideas and resources, and share resources I have created. I find it to be a positive experience, though some of my colleagues have had very different experiences where people have 'trolled' them. Trolling is when someone posts negative or mean comments at another user. My colleague had others call him all kinds of things just because he had a different opinion to theirs. These are educators. If adults who are supposed to be role models for their students spend time trolling the internet, how can we expect our students not to? We as educators have to role model for our students safe and responsible use of social media.
It was nice to see when I read the article 'Why Twitter is Finally Taking a Stand Against Trolls' (Lapowsky, 2015) that the social media sites themselves understand the importance of not tolerating people who cyberbully others. Twitter is flagging inappropriate comments, indirect threats, violent threats, underage usage etc. This is essential for making the social media experience enjoyable for all users and it is positive to see resources put into identifying and eliminating those who do not wish to use social media in a positive manner.
Connect With Students and Parents in Your Paperless Classroom | Edmodo. Retrieved September 12, 2015, from http://www.edmodo.com/
Why Twitter Is Finally Taking a Stand Against Trolls. Retrieved September 20, 2015, from http://www.wired.com/2015/04/twitter-abuse/