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Friday, April 23, 2010

Jump on the Bandwagon!



The debate as to whether or not social media sites have an educational benefit seems to be never-ending, but as studies continue, there is more and more reason to believe that there is a lot to learn from social networking/media. Sites such as Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, Flickr, LinkedIn, and YouTube are teaching students the kinds of 21st century technology skills that professionals are expected to exude in the real world.

"Students are developing a positive attitude toward using technology systems, editing and customizing content and thinking about online design and layout,” said Christine Greenhow, a learning technologies researcher at the University of Minnesota. “They're also sharing creative original work like poetry and film and practicing safe and responsible use of information and technology. The websites offer tremendous educational potential."

Colleges spanning the country ranging from Stanford to Duke are choosing to use popular social media sites as part of their curriculum. The following is a list of schools that are using social media in a new and innovative way:

At the City University of New York, Professor Jeff Jarvis is teaching a class that focuses on the use of social media for newsgathering. This is a class only offered to graduate students in the Graduate School of Journalism and it teaches students that they can find breaking news with the use of real-time searches.

There have been numerous times throughout my college career when I’ve been given an assignment, but just can’t get the creative juices flowing and can’t seem to get an idea together. But luckily for the students at Stanford, that will never be an issue for them. Faculty and student projects can be found on the school’s Facebook page, so if you find yourself looking for inspiration, the page is filled with videos, pictures, and other previously done works.

The use of Twitter and Facebook is one thing; though incredibly useful, neither requires much effort. But the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has found a way to take things to the next level. They created their own channel on YouTube and packed it tightly with information and educational videos. These videos relate to topics such as health care, medicine, business, and information technology, all of which serve as aids in the classroom.

Colleges and universities aren’t the only ones hopping on the social media bandwagon. Chris Copeland, a Birmingham language arts teacher at Vestavia Hills H.S., uses Twitter to tweet his lesson plans. Not only does he feel that his tweets make it easier to keep up with what’s going on, but he also feels that sharing lesson plans on Twitter can help other teachers get good ideas for their own lessons. Furthermore, tweeting keeps a record of what has been happening in the classroom, which proves to be extremely beneficial for absent students.

Although there is no doubt that these social media sites can prove to be more than beneficial, some teachers would argue that they can be incredibly distracting. A recent and very popular trend has been to live tweet in the classrooms. Some say that it is engaging and encourages students to take part in interactive learning who might otherwise sit in the back corner of the classroom and not say anything. However, others say that Twitter is too fast paced; everyone must fully understand it to make it work, and the extreme multi-tasking can be unhealthy for students.

“Students have to ‘get’ Twitter before live-tweeting,” Kris Aylett from Ocean Springs, Mississippi said. “I found it a distraction in class. Students would tweet two times and text or use Facebook the rest of the time.”

The debate will continue to rage on, but where do you stand? Are you a socialite?

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2 Comments:

Blogger Katie Brosious said...

There was a really cool presentation at the 140 Character Conference that really shows the huge affect social media can play with student engagement. Students use Twitter to learn Animal Farm:

http://bit.ly/9OHRpZ

It's an amazing example of how innovative teaching can impact student learning. Definitely a fun must-watch.

4/23/10, 11:18 AM  
Blogger George Haines said...

Thanks for posting the link, Katie!
The students at Sts. Philip and James have been working to gain a deeper understanding of social media for a few years and we hope to keep the momentum going.

It can be difficult at times to find the right balance between teaching and discovery and I think as educators, we are all searching for the right blend. One thing I tried to do with their presentation (and with the project in general) was to stay out of the way as much as possible.

I don't think it is responsible to ignore social media in our instruction because students will use it whether we show them or not. Teachers who advocate banning social media are missing that fact, I believe. Banning social media because of the dangers it poses would be like banning Driver's Ed classes because of the high accident rates among teen drivers.

Giving them a model of purposeful usage is vital or else we will have a generation of people tweeting about their breakfast habits or worse.

There are so many positive and inspirational ways to use this news power of connectivity and it would be a shame to miss the chance to prove it.

4/26/10, 8:45 AM  

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