This week’s topic in class was “Social Media in the Classroom” and John Finch (MB Ed, LwICT) came to class to present on the topic to us. There are plenty of examples of social media that are readily available and could be successfully integrated into the classroom. Examples would include Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. One of the first things we discussed with John was the use of Facebook by schools and schools divisions. He informed us that Pembina Trails School Division had recently joined Facebook. He also informed us that Facebook is currently blocked in all of the division’s schools! It seems a bit ridiculous to acknowledge the potential of Facebook to be used positively by having the division join, but to not be able to access Facebook in the schools. So then we started researching to web to see what other examples we could find of teachers or schools using social media in the classroom.
As we were searching I stumbled across an interesting blog describing how Facebook was being used in a First Grade Classroom. In the blog they had used Prezi (online presentation tool) to create a valuable presentation on how they were using Facebook in the classroom and how positive it is. This particular class was using Facebook as an educational tool by having the class update the status about what they learned in that particular class, to easily communicate with parents through the use of private messages and notes (rather than sending paper notes home which generally get lost!), and to post photos of samples of student work, just to name a few uses. To check out the full Prezi presentation on how and why this First Grade Class is using Facebook check out: http://www.debaird.net/blendededunet/2010/07/using-facebook-in-the-elementary-school-classroom-parents-students.html#
Now when most people think of Social Media and specifically using Social Media in a Classroom, safety and privacy are two concerns that jump to many people’s minds. These are valid concerns and teachers and schools do need to exercise caution when using Social Media. I found an interesting article outlining guidelines that one particular School District uses when using Facebook as a communication tool. This article can be found at: https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=sites&srcid=Y2Jjc2Qub3JnfGZhY2Vib29raW5maXJzdGdyYWRlfGd4OjNiNDZkODIwYjRjODNiMjk
Social Media in the Classroom, offers a fresh way to keep students engaged in their own learning, and is very relevant to their personal lives. Students are all familiar with the various Social Medias available, and many students and parents already use Social Medias for personal use, so why not use them for educational purposes? I think as educators we need to keep what we are teaching students and how we are teaching students as relevant as possible to the student’s lives to keep them engaged and excited in learning. It would seem that many schools and school divisions are hesitant to use Social Medias as an educational tool as many divisions have these sites blocked. How much more engaged do students become when you can show them a YouTube video as an example of what you are learning? But how frustrating is it when you cannot access this at school? I think schools need to be actively exploring the possibilities these Social Medias can provide to schools, teachers, and students in class and I think more school divisions need to take a step forward like Pembina Trails has and join some of these sites and begin to actively use them in a positive manner.