The Power Of Connecting
I recently had lunch with past students from my adult/youth/ESL class and was blown away by one student who had taken social media to heart. He was a reluctant participant, at first, in the computer classes I delivered, but developed his skills and became reasonably proficient at using Word and writing emails. This basic knowledge has now enabled him to create a Facebook page and use it prolifically. He has upgraded to an iPhone and downloads and uses a variety of APPS. These APPS are mainly games played among a group of friends, but the point here is, he is using social media to connect with others and create a social media platform for developing skills and be involved in life long learning.
The mobile or cell phone can be used as a launching pad for a number of learning activities. The basic features on most phones include: calendar; alarm for reminders; notetaking; sections for recording appointments or when to hand in completed task/s or assignments; calculators; email; Twitter; and Facebook. Add to this selection a number of educational APPS and you have a comprehensive learning support tool.
I avowed never to use Twitter because I was under the impression that it would be similar to what Facebook offers. Now, I never like to admit I'm wrong, but on this occasion I was very not right. A friend who has an interior design business suggested I look at this option, and I've never looked back. I follow an eclectic group of people and buisnesses that offer great links and information on a myriad of topics. I can hear you asking, "But how will this help me in the classroom?" Check out the forum on www.maziocreate.com.au and discover how a Year 3 teacher has introduced and utilises Twitter in the classroom.
The following PowerPoint offers twenty-five different and interesting ways to use this media. It is aimed at high school level learners, but could be used successfully across the learner spectrum. Here is a sample of the tasks suggested: gather real-world data; summarise topics/views as Tweets; Tweetstory; Twitter Poll; and, word morph. That is just a selection from the first ten slides.
I also found the following link from YouTube very interesting and exciting as it comes from an adult learning perspective. The video shows how a professor uses Twitter during a lecture to engage the students in the current topic. http://bit.ly/ZNfah
I've never used Facebook in the classroom, but can readily see how this literacy media can be used to engage learners. From the reading I've undertaken to locate helpful sites that discuss using Facebook, the major piece of advice is to keep your personal page and student contact page separate. It is also stressed that a set of guidelines be developed so everyone understands how to interact on that page.
One major bonus of implementing Facebook or Twitter as a teaching / learning strategy is that learning material etc, can be readily accessed by learners at any time and from any place. When learners have readily available access to learning materials they can review and interact with that material and other learners as often as they wish. It's all well and good to offer learn at your own pace courses, however, most people need a learning community to interact with to consolidate their learning. They are already involved with this soical media, so using a Facebook page to enhance class work or just to connect with learners in another way will assist your teaching and their learning. The following web pages will give you an overview of using Facebook in classrooms.
- "The 101 Ways you should be using F/B in the classroom" http://bit.ly/1a4Moa
A treasure trove of ways to implement Facebook in your classroom.
- YouTube http://bit.ly/nYZtEC
A high school teacher (US) discusses how she has used this media within her histroy class.
- New York Times report on a Year 11 teacher using social media in the classroom. http://nyti.ms/mTuB0x
There are other social media tools out there e.g. Skype (which you can use to connect with remote students), but it all comes down to us as educators learning how to effectively use these tools in our classrooms to engage our students.