These are my notes from Karin Perry‘s presentation, “Using Social Networking Tools to Increase Discussion in the Classroom” at the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education “Reading Conference: 21st Century Learning Environments” on September 24, 2010. MY THOUGHTS AND COMMENTS ARE IN ALL CAPS.

Starting with discussion: What have you read recently that is fun or interesting? (sharing)
– notice the dynamics

What do teachers and librarians say about WikiPedia?
– don’t use it for a major research effort

social networking definition from WikiPedia:

A social network is a social structure made up of individuals (or organizations) called “nodes,” which are tied (connected) by one or more specific types of interdependency, such as friendship, kinship, common interest…

MY COMMENT: I LIKE DANA BOYD’S DEFINITION OF SOCIAL NETWORKING FROM HER 2008 DISSERTATION: (“Taken Out of Context: American Teen Sociality in Networked Publics“) – page 105:

The term “social media,” as I am using it, is an umbrella term that refers to the set of tools, services, and applications that allow people to interact with others using network technologies. Social media encompasses groupware, online communities, peer-to- peer and media-sharing technologies, and networked gaming. Instant messaging, blogging, microblogging, forums, email, virtual worlds, texting, and social network sites are all genres of social media. Social media is sometimes referred to as “social software” or “social computing” or “computer-mediated communication.” Most genres of social media leverage personal computers and the Internet, but increasingly, mobile networks are serving as an additional key network technology. Social media includes systems that support one-to-one, one-to-many, and many-to- many interactions. Some enable many-to-many interactions and support the creation of spaces for people to gather and publics to form. I call these spaces, and the resultant collective, “networked publics.” Usenet, the blogosphere, and social network sites are all examples of networked publics.

I like Facebook because I can keep in touch with my friends from elementary school
– can it be abused? Of course. There can always be problems
– part of our job as educators is to teach students responsibility

School filters can REALLY limit what teachers can do in their classrooms as far as these web 2.0 tools
– it is different district to district

My experiences with Norman Public Schools, and I feel pretty lucky
– could get to YouTube, some blogs like EduBlogs and WordPress
– all Blogger blogs were blocked
– Twitter was not blocked

Research
– citing NSBA report by National School Boards

Kids are pros already, we are the ones catching up
– have you heard the term “digital native, digital immigrant?”
– I am still considered a digital immigrant
– kids know how to use these tools better than their parents and grandparents

MY COMMENT: WELL, LET’S BE CAREFUL HERE. WE SHOULD NOT PORTRAY STUDENTS AS THOROUGHLY LITERATE WITH THE USE OF THESE TOOLS. FEARLESSNESS DOES NOT EQUATE TO LITERACY. ALSO, AS BOYD POINTS OUT IN HER DISSERTATION, STUDENTS ARE OFTEN NOT SAVVY TO THE GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE WHICH THEIR ONLINE DIGITAL FOOTPRINT CREATES… THEY ARE MOST OFTEN USING SOCIAL NETWORKING TOOLS TO EXTEND PEER CONVERSATIONS THEY HAVE FACE TO FACE.

These are sites that kids are already familiar with (Skype, Twitter, Facebook Goodreads, LibraryThing, Flickr, WordPress, Google Docs, Myspace, Facebook)

MySpace is so busy, Facebook is cleaner and simple

Digital immigrants can multi-task better because they are young

MY COMMENT: OK, WE NEED TO BE CAREFUL HERE TOO. IT IS EASY TO PROPAGATE MYTHS ABOUT MULTI-TASKING. YES, KIDS DO IT A LOT. THAT DOES NOT NECESSARILY MEAN THEY ARE THINKING DEEPLY ABOUT TOPICS WHEN THEY HAVE 5 THINGS GOING ON SIMULTANEOUSLY.

We are going to talk about Blogs first
– 3 common uses for classroom blogs
1- teachers can post class notes, lesssons, and other info for parents and students to view (this replaces a class webpage or a weekly newsletter)
— this doesn’t necessarily create community
2- next level: teacher posts prompts or activities and require students to respond oon the blog in the comments section
3- teachers post a prompt or activity, and ask students to post their responses on their own blog. The teacher may then require the students to visit their classmates’ blogs and comment

Great Teacher / Librarian Blogs

derapsclass.blogspot.com (classroom content)

derapsreads.blogspot.com (More book related)

Mrs. Cassidy’s Classroom Blog

Free Blog providers
– Blogger
– Google Sites
– WordPress

MY COMMENT: I WOULD RECOMMEND CLASS BLOG OPTIONS LIKE CLASSROOM BLOGMEISTER, KIDBLOG, 21PUBLISH, 21CLASSES, ETC.

Twitter

Ideas for sharing things on Twitter
– quick check for understanding
– live discussion feed
– collaborative creative writing
– homework questions
– you can setup a class account and share that ID with all your students, so they don’t have to create their own accounts

MY COMMENT: I’D BE VERY CAREFUL ABOUT THIS, CAN BE PROBLEMATIC IN TERMS OF A SHARED ACCOUNT AND NOT BEING ABLE TO TELL WHO POSTED WHAT… (NOT ACCOUNTABLE)

I don’t show Shelfari because Goodreads is pretty simple, mostly text, it loads fast, it’s easy to use
– Library Thing is more complicated, and Shelfari is more image based so it therefore takes longer to load (too time consuming for me, it’s more pretty bells and whistles)

Goodreads is free to join, just log in with an email address
– it’s a virtual bookshelf

You can create a group just for your class, can keep an online running discussion forum

LibraryThing also supports groups, but it looks more cluttered to me

Follow Buffy Hamilton, The Unquiet Librarian, she is the coolest librarian ever!

You need to start working with Google Docs, it’s the coolest thing to use in classrooms
– 8th students when I was at Whittier in Norman
– students so often forgot a flash drive, left their stuff at home
– Google Docs takes care of that
– the student papers are on Google Docs

Now showing revisions on an English Journal article Karin wrote with a colleague, 1140 total revisions at this point

You can create a Google Form to solicit information from other people

Misc things
Skype
Moodle
– Polls: www.polleverywhere.com
— Poll Everywhere is so cool and so much fun

MY COMMENT: REMEMBER WITH MOODLE SOMEONE HAS TO HOST YOUR MOODLE INSTALLATION, AND THAT PART IS NOT FREE

I have had 2 skype experiences with students
– had a group of students to a collaborative writing project with students in Virginia
– have had 2 authors speak to students after we read their books (1 I won as a conference doorprize)

Norman Public Schools is now really getting going with Moodle, in their 3rd or 4th year using it

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  • KristinGVSU

    This sounds like it would have been a great conference to attend! I really like the idea of using social networking sites in educational contexts, if (as you point out) we as teachers teach our students to use them responsibility. How cool would it be to have online office hours through facebook? I think students would be so much more likely to reach out and ask for help or interact with teachers if they could do so in this way. However, I would definitely encourage the teacher to create an account separate from their own personal account. Using these tools for educational purposes is one thing; using them to interact with students socially is totally different.

    And I absolutely agree with your comment about multi-tasking. Just because students are doing three things at once does not mean they are doing any one of them well. Society’s emphasis on multi-tasking has created the ADHD generation.

    Thanks for sharing your notes! I will be looking for similar conferences in my area. This sounds very interesting!

  • http://www.derapsclass.blogspot.com Mrs. DeRaps

    Very nice…I would have loved to have been at this conference. I admire Karin Perry a great deal. This information is so essential to classroom teachers who are seeking to involve our 21st century learners in 21st century modes of thought/ communication/ expression. I feel quite strongly that educators need to prepare learners for the world that they’ll encounter during and after their stay with us. Students are already social networking and learning how to use tools; why not take advantage of their genuine interest and prepare them for their world. Less worksheets, more work. Real work.

    I could go on and on. But I won’t.

  • http://www.wesfryer.com Wesley Fryer

    @KristinGVSU The Oklahoma Regents team did a great job putting together this conference. It was super to have these themes and skills addressed in a core content area reading conference! We had a good sampling of university faculty from around the state in attendance.

    Mrs. DeRaps: Thanks for your comment! I was so glad to find your websites thanks to Karin’s recommendations. Keep up the great work! :-)

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