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
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 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/