Educators, Social Media and Networking: A Serendipitous Relationship

“We need, first, to take charge of our own learning, and next, help others take charge of their own learning. We need to move beyond the idea that an education is something that is provided for us, and toward the idea that an education is something that we create for ourselves. It is time, in other words, that we change our attitude toward learning and the educational system in general” (Downes, 2010, para 16).

The concept of socialisation in learning has long been acknowledged as essential to knowledge building and attainment in the field of education (Belbase, 2011, p.3; Cobb, 2005, p.41; Dewey, 1910; Perkins, 2009, p.7). In the Digital Age, as educators and students alike begin to favour models of connected learning over the static environment of the traditional classroom, socialisation in learning has begun to establish itself through the use of social media and networking applications, “a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content” (Kaplan and Haenlein, 2010, pp. 61). These innovations and technological developments that allow for online collaboration and socialisation, enable us to expand our knowledge-building ecosystems and move away from the concept of the classroom teacher as the owner of all knowledge and information (Pink as citied in Bingham & Conner, 2010, loc. 177).

Moving away from traditional model of learning where the teacher acts as holder of all knowledge to a social, networked approach to learning where all participants are part of the learning process (Grout, 2013).

Moving away from traditional model of learning where the teacher acts as holder of all knowledge to a social, networked approach to learning where all participants are part of the learning process (Grout, 2013).

Thus as educators, whether we like it or not, we must embrace social media and networking within our own learning ecologies so that we can extend these learning opportunities to our students of the Digital Age. Just as businesses of the twenty-first century have been forced to up-skill and transform their business models to avoid losing currency, educators cannot ignore the pull of social media and networking to meet the natural drive of socialisation as these emerging technologies, “allow us to embrace the needs of changing workplace demographics and enable people of all ages to learn in ways that are comfortable and convenient for them” (Bingham & Conner, 2010, loc. 184). In echoing the sentiment of Downes when he suggests we must first take charge of our learning before assisting others with their learning, the time has come for educators to embrace social media and networking in their own learning so that they can benefit from, participate in and model this learning for both their peers and their students (2010, para. 16). Whereas traditional education has taught us that learning only happens in the classroom, the rise of social media and networking has proven that learning happens in a variety of ways and places beyond the classroom, opening doors for citizens in the digital age to be, “more effective, more knowledgeable, more energised, and more efficient as professional educators,” and ultimately, as learners (Whitaker, Zoul & Casas, 2015, loc. 205).

Opening the door to learning beyond the classroom (Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest, 2015).

Opening the door to learning beyond the classroom (Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest, 2015).

As Perkins suggests in Futurewise: Educating Our Children For A Changing World, We must consider what constitutes our learning ecology and ‘go beyond’ the world of traditional education to ensure our students are prepared for learning that is ‘lifeworthy’ – “likely to matter in the lives learners are likely to live” (2014, loc 395), and ‘lifeready’ -“ready to pop up on appropriate occasions and help make sense of the world” (2014, loc 694). This learning will only be possible when we consider learning collectives in networked environments, rather than learning in our traditional hierarchal classrooms (Schravemade, 2015, para. 4).

What is different about teaching and learning using social media and networking is that we are working in environments that we cannot control. The traditional learning relationships we had with our peers and students took place in physical environments, however in the digital age, they are happening in front of an audience we cannot monitor, mandate or select. The notion of connected learning is not one we can learn from a textbook, it involves educators stepping out of their comfort zone and, not only reading or viewing the work of students, but adopting a mindset that places them in the position of learner as they participate in the processes involved with, not only their individual learning, but also that of their peers and students (Whitaker et al., 2015, loc. 248). If, “social learning happens using social media tools and through extended access and conversations with all our connections – in our workplaces, our communities, and online. It happens when we keep the conversation going on a blog rich with comments, through coaching and mentoring, or even during a workout at the gym,” as Bingham and Conner suggest in The New Social Learning: A Guide to Transforming Organizations Through Social Media, then we as educators must ourselves be comfortable with and understand how to participate in such environments (2010, loc. 340).

This is where teaching and learning using social media and networking constitutes a serendipitous relationship with educators. Piaget asserted that, “cognitive conflict created by social interaction is the locus at which the power driving intellectual development is generated” (Perret-Clermont, 1980, p. 12). In this sense, cognition is a collaborative process, and the mind of the learner creates meaning, knowledge and understanding through dialogue, interaction and conversation with others (Ernest, 1995). Research such as that by Bell, Grossen and Perret-Clermont (1985) affirms this social practice, as they assert that students who are actively engaged in working with their peers display greater cognitive growth than those working alone. This promotes the idea that, “personal experiences of individuals become social and collective experiences when they are shared, interacted, and retained as knowledge” (Belbase, 2011, p.3). It is essential then, that as educators we examine how our pedagogy encourages students to participate and be guided by others in their learning. In the twenty-first century, we must embrace trends in technological development such as social media and networking to provide learning experiences reflective of the Digital Age. It becomes innate for educators to continue their serendipitous relationship with socialisation in learning through the participatory culture that is social media and networking.

In the video below, Helen Haste articulates the collaborative nature of information gathering and knowledge development in the twenty-first century (2009).

Social media and networking present the perfect platforms to encourage collaborative an co-operative perspectives through technology use. It is our role as educators to embrace these in our learning so that we can model, participate in and extend this opportunity to our students. The first step in this process as educators is to become digital citizens and connected learners ourselves, so that we can effectively and successfully extend this opportunity to our students. The interactive infographic ‘Getting Started With Digital Citizenship: Social Media and Networking’ shared in a previous post  provides a bank of resources for educators to use as a guide when they begin their journey as connected learners, exploring digital citizenship through social media and networking.

Reference List

Belbase, S. (2011). Radical versus social constructivism: dilemma, dialogue, and defense [Online Submission]. Retrieved from ERIC database. (ED525159).

Bell, N. Grossen, M. Perret-Clermont, A.N. (1985). Sociocognitive conflict and intellectual growth. In M.W. Berkowitz (Ed.), Peer conflict and psychological growth. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Bingham, T., & Conner, M. (2010). The new social learning: A guide to transforming organizations through social media [Kindle edition]. Retrieved from http://www.amazon.com/The-New-Social-Learning-Organizations/dp/1605097020

Cobb, P. (2005). Where is the mind? A coordination of sociocultural and cognitive constructivist perspectives. In C. Twomey Fosnot (Ed.), Constructivism: theory, perspectives and practice (2nd Ed.). New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Dewey, J. (1910). How we think. Boston: DC Heath.

Downes, S. (2010). A world to change. Huffpost Education. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stephen-downes/a-world-to-change_b_762738.html

Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest. (2015). Open white door floating plaster wall [Photography]. Retrieved from Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest http://quest.eb.com/search/165_3338382/1/165_3338382/cite

Ernest, P. (1995). The one and the many. In L. P Steffe & J. Gale (Eds.), Constructivism in education (pp. 459-486). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Grout, M. (2013). Teaching strategies [Image]. Retrieved from https://prezi.com/y28yncf_uu4b/teaching-strategies/

Haste, H. (2009, June 25). Technology and youth: rethinking the landscape of education (part 4 of 4) [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZt9rEnAvew

Kaplan, A. M., & Haenlein, M. (2010). Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of social media. Business Horizons, 53(1), 59–68. doi:10.1016/j.bushor.2009.09.003

Perkins, D. N. (2009). Making learning whole: How seven principles of teaching can transform education. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Perkins, D. (2014). Future wise: Educating our children for a changing world [Kindle edition]. Retrieved from http://www.amazon.com/Future-Wise-Educating-Children-Changing/dp/1118844084

Perret-Clermont, A. N. (1980). Social interaction and cognitive development in children. Academic Press.

Schravemade, K. (2015, March 29). ‘Lifeready’ and ‘Lifeworthy’ learning: go beyond the traditional [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://theprivateteacher.wordpress.com/2015/03/29/lifeready-and-lifeworthy-learning-going-beyond-the-traditional/

Whitaker, T., Zoul, J., & Casa, J. (2015). What connected educators do differently [Kindle edition]. Retrieved from http://www.amazon.com/What-Connected-Educators-Do-Differently-ebook/dp/B00ULQN564/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=8-1&qid=1428829250

Digital Citizenship just as important as Social Media Policies when considering Online Behaviours

footprint

There is no doubt that considering how Social Media is used by ALL members of a school community (students, staff, parents) is essential in our digital age.  Often, we may find that staff can be just as prone to misusing (either intentionally or unintentionally) social media as students.  While many organisations are drafting policies to cater for the use of social media by their representatives, I believe, particular in schools, that we must begin with educating community members about Digital Citizenship in conjunction with any policy creation regarding online behaviours.

I was at a BBQ last week and the ideas of teaching Digital Citizenship and using Social Media in class were mentioned.  I was interested that many attendees scoffed at the idea of teaching this in schools and believed that this was something of a joke, with one person commenting that, “no one ever taught us to socialise at school and we turned out just fine”, and another suggesting that, “if schools didn’t encourage their students to be online they wouldn’t have a problem”.  Unfortunately, I think many parents have this same mindset when it comes to Digital Citizenship and Social Media, often believing that whatever will happen online will happen, regardless of what they are taught, or, they won’t have  a problem if they prohibit their children from being online.

This Science Friday podcast provides some real insight into the ‘why’ behind teaching Digital Citizenship in schools, as it suggests that teenagers have always needed to learn how to control social situations and being online should be no different.  We have always focused on ‘personal development’ in schools where we have modelled appropriate behaviours in social situations, we shouldn’t ignore that much of this socialisation has now moved beyond physical situations to online situations. Thus, I believe that as educators it is our responsibility to create awareness of what it means to be a digital citizen and model this behaviour, not only for our students, but also for their parents, our peers and wider community.

One thing we often overlook when we consider Digital Citizenship, is that we are not only teaching students how to be appropriate in their socialisation online, we are also teaching them how to be ethical and legal online.  It is essential for people to realise that as soon as they post something online they are becoming both a copyright holder and  publisher, hence, they need to consider how they are branding themselves personally and professionally.  In the video below, Barry Britt discusses the importance of students and teachers understanding the impact that their interactions and posts online can have on their personal and professional profiles.  Essentially, he suggests that we need to ensure both students and teachers have the knowledge to make decisions about branding rights.

Another important consideration concerning Digital Citizenship is catering for ‘context collapse’.  In her book It’s Complicated, Danah Boyd asserts that teenagers today are not doing anything different to what they have always done; the problem with the emergence of social media is that now the whole world can see how they are socialising.  Thus, they need to be aware of ‘context collapse’ – if they don’t  understand the context in which they are operating  online, their behaviour will often be misrepresented.  A teacher mentioned to me the other day that she was annoyed students had started following her on Twitter as she wanted to use it as a personal account.  This is a perfect example of ‘context collapse’  as this teacher obviously didn’t understand the social context around Twitter, highlighting the growing need for awareness around Digital Citizenship and the use of social media.

Digital Citizenship involves accepting that we need to interact online and brand and promote ourselves in a positive manner.  We must accept that we need to learn to control our social situations online, just as much as we do in a physical setting. Thus, if we begin a Digital Citizenship education in conjunction to creating policy around Social Media use, we may find that community members are more aware of and informed of acceptable online behaviours.

Is your Library in the World of 2.0?

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The connectedness and interactivity of Web 2.0 challenges us to only change our behaviour online, but it always pushes schools and businesses to rethink they do to cater for clientele that are used to such fast-passed, click-of-the-button service.  One particular sector that has been under great pressure to alter or face redundancy is libraries.  School libraries especially are quickly realising they need to offer services to cater for the change in teaching and learning that has accompanied Web 2.0 as their users are preferring to visit Google and  other Internet services over the library catalogue, under the belief that the library can no longer meet their needs. Enter the notion of Library 2.0.

The video below published by UC Berkeley discusses the notion of Library 2.0 and flags several concepts for libraries to follow when ensuring their services reflect twenty-first century, digital age services.

Keynote speaker Meredith Farkas discusses Library 2.0 as building on the concept of Web 2.0 where instead of users being only viewers of information, they became active participants in the creation of information (UC Berkeley Events, 2007). Whereas our traditional libraries acted primarily as storehouses of information, they must now evolve to reflect societal and technological changes and reevaluate how to meet the needs of users in the world of the digital age. Perhaps the biggest change libraries can make to move into the world of 2.0 is embrace the notion that our services can no longer remain static, we must constantly alter what we do to reflect the world around us, whether we have yet perfected the service or not.

The video below created by myself and colleague Helen Stower provides one example of how our libraries can enter to the world of 2.0 and evolve to meet the needs of users.

As suggested by Farkas in her UC Berkeley address, libraries need to reimagine what they can offer in their spaces and how they can enter Web 2.0 and respond to the needs of our digital age users. This involves considering exactly who the users of library are, in the case of the Mount Alvernia iCentre, this meant altering services to not only consider the needs of students of the college but all learners; teachers, parents and the wider community.  After all, in the world of Library 2.0, access to the library becomes open to anyone with internet access, not just those who access the physical space.  If users can access Google and other information services from the comfort of their own home, why wouldn’t they want to access the services of their school library from the same place.  Hence, libraries that offer 2.0 services must allow for interaction with users  via websites and social media sites. The Slideshare below highlights some key considerations for school libraries to consider when altering their services from a Library 1.0 model to that of a 2.0 model.

http://www.slideshare.net/schrk/slideshelf

Most importantly, the biggest recommendation for libraries looking to enter the world of Library 2.0 is to dive and meet users where they are at, if we continue to sit back and wait for services in the digital age to become perfect and static, they will have changed before we have the chance to offer them in our spaces.

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Reference List

UC Berkeley Events.  (2007, November 19).  Building academic library 2.0 . Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q_uOKFhoznI

Hooking into #geniushourmta

We are in for an exciting term in Retech (Research and Technology) this term.  After a really successful trial with one class last year, this year we have the whole year 8 cohort participating in iSolve – #geniushourmta.  I have discussed the concepts behind Genius Hour in a previous post and have found the majority of students can’t wait to work on their genius projects when you provide  them with an effective hook to start them thinking about their passion and how they might use this passion to inspire others.  There are two particular ideas we use to generate interest for #geniushourmta.  The first inspires students to think about the people who have gone before us and left a footprint on the world, eg. past inventions and people who have created something to inspire others.  The video below created by ‘Google’ is a fantastic way to do this:

We then like to follow up with a real life example of a young boy who used his passion to inspire others and (inadvertently) create a worldwide movement.

The example of Caine’s arcade works well to motivate students and inspire discussion around what they are passionate about and how they could use this to make a difference.  However, what really ‘hooks’ the students is part 2 of Caine’s story and the completely unintentional impact his story has had on creativity and learning in schools

This video also provides an excellent of the power of collaboration and social media.

I can’t wait to follow the progress of our Year 8 students in #geniushourmta and look forward to sharing this with you as they begin to explore their passions.

I’ll leave you with an initial reflection from one of our student’s after being ‘hooked’ onto #geniushourmta

geniushout

Digital Citizenship: The Bigger Picture

Bodies in Motion

Paul Stevenson, ‘Bodies in motion’, CC O

 

The 2011 study by Gfk bluemoon for the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) entitled, ‘Like, post, share: Young Australians’ experience of social media’ is a must read for all who are concerned with the education of Digital Citizenship in schools.  Although it is now 4 years old, this study raised some concerns for me regarding how we handle the concept of Digital Citizenship with our students.

The ACMA study highlighted 5 key concerns for me:

1. Many schools have identified the importance of educating students in Digital Citizenship and are beginning to  integrate Digital Citizenship into their curriculum or personal development programs.  This is a fantastic start, as creating awareness of Digital Citizenship is essential, however, what is often overlooked in these programs is the fact that there must be a tessellation between education and modelling. The more I teach and read about digital citizenship in the classroom, the more I am coming to terms with the fact that, in order to have an effective influence on your students, you need to be open to discussion and modelling around what you ‘preach’. The ACMA study discussed that often, students are quite well educated in cybersafety, the concern is more that they don’t put their knowledge into action when they witness or partake in risky behaviour.  By modelling Digital Citizenship for your students through having an active PLN, discussing personalised issues as they arise, and actively engaging students in your online behaviours, they will not only ‘know’ what is appropriate but also ‘see’ what is appropriate, challenging them to follow your lead.

2.  It’s all well and good for specialist teachers, such as Teacher-Librarians, to teach Digital Citizenship however, this isn’t effective unless the same lessons are followed up by classroom teachers and parents.  The ACMA study found that many students model the online behaviours of their parents and older siblings. While many parents believe they are supervising the behaviours of their children online, often this is limited to managing the time they spend online, not the content they are accessing.  Also, parents believe that it is adequate to monitor their child’s interactions online through ‘friending’ them on Facebook,  completely unaware that children report all of the important online interactions happen through  chat and private messaging.  The ACMA study also indicated that students are more likely to take greater risks online if their older siblings are active online, without the maturity to realise the consequences of their behaviour.  Similarly, if classroom teachers are not modelling positive Digital Citizenship in class, students are less likely to believe that they should be good digital citizens.   This refers back to the difference between education and modelling.  My concern is that we spend time in school teaching and modelling appropriate online behaviours, but parents and the wider community have limited awareness of Digital Citizenship and thus, aren’t modelling these behaviours to the students.  This provides a disconnect between what students are learning in school and what is actually happening in the ‘real world’. Hence, the ACMA findings that students are often aware of what constitutes appropriate behaviour but ignore their learnings in favour of partaking in behaviours that ‘everyone else is’, make perfect sense. Understandably, students are less likely to heed advice from parents or teachers who aren’t ‘tech savvy’.

3.  Following on from this, many students find that they ‘know it all’ when it comes to Digital Citizenship and online behaviours and the older they get, the less responsive they are to education programs.  What they need are relevant, engaging examples and discussions that they can relate to personally.  Consequently, enlisting the help of experts from the wider community who can demonstrate the effects of poor digital citizenship and risky online behaviours to students,  both in the short and long term, is much more effective than ‘preaching’.

4.  The biggest take away that students get from interacting online is feedback.  They ‘post’, ‘like’ and ‘comment’ on the things that they want others to see and do the same on.  For example, a student posting a ‘selfie’ on their page is clearly waiting for others to ‘like’ or give their feedback on the image, creating a need for the approval of their peers. This in itself creates a struggle for students as they build, negotiate and present their personality and identity through their online interactions.  The actions and identity of students are no longer confined to the physical environment.

5.  For me, the ACMA study reflected that educators are doing a great job in providing students with the information they need to be good Digital Citizens and behave responsibly online.  What we need to focus on now is how we make students aware that their actions online are permanent, and not easily erased. The concept of a digital footprint is something that students find difficult to grasp, as the future seems such a long way away.  What students put online will increasingly affect their job opportunities in the future, as employers find inappropriate comments, images and interactions with a simple Google search.  Again, we need to prove students with real-life examples of positive and negative footprints and model digital footprints through our own actions online, particularly with the emergence of mobile social networking and geo-spatial tagging. I often ‘Google’ myself with students to demonstrate how we can manipulate the information about us online in a positive manner.  This is just as essential as being aware of cyber safety and responsible behaviours.

We need to see the bigger picture in regards to Digital Citizenship.  Pushing information to students regarding digital citizenship is not enough.  To be effective we must be modelling and providing the connect between education and reality.