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Social media in education

My colleagues and i are so excited to be introducing Twitter and blogs into our classrooms, but we realise that some parents have concerns and reservations about social media being used in the classroom. These are my thoughts:

With the introduction of new technologies into the school, the teachers at our college are investigating new and exciting ways of presenting work and are also looking at the way students will investigate and present their responses. Social media is just one of the avenues we are exploring. This is a way for students and teachers to collaborate and communicate transparently.

Twitter and blogs are being used, but they are closed to class members only. The teacher in charge will be a member of that site and will monitor activity. Hash tag groups will be used which will be personal to that class group. I know this goes against the whole ‘global village’ idea which is the whole point of social networks, but this is our way of protecting our students. And reassuring our parents. Unlike some social media sites, Twitter does not display any personal information. The short bio is used at the discretion of the individual and this will be edited in class. For work that does not require collaboration, email, Dropbox and WebDAV will continue to be used.

We feel that using these sites could connect students with their family members and so see the students’ work wherever in the world they live. Students are able to create a personal learning network and so inspire each other and promote higher order thinking. We are able to continue discussions outside of the four walls of the class, while still being monitored by the teacher. Having said that, students are still encouraged to choose who they follow in class. Twitter has the function of banning unwanted followers.

Our students are required to be globally competent. Social networks are incredibly popular and we are giving students guidelines to use these networks responsibly and so foster good digital citizenship within the guidelines of our Manaaki programme. We are are in the process of revising our Manaaki programme to include the respect of our online community and network.

I look forward to my students getting enthusiastic about the work they are doing in English. Reading, blogging their responses, critiquing each other’s work and tweeting links to their blogs.

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