Building on from Part One, which focused on what social media is, and why it is important to include it in learning and teaching, this post aims to investigate creative ways social media may be used to enable students to engage, create, publish and connect with others.
Suggestion One: Be a connected educator!
The best way to become comfortable with social media is to be your own guinea pig. By using the tool you wish to implement for your own purposes, you will learn about the requirements of signing up, how time consuming it is to familiarise yourself with the tool, whether it works on the school computer/network environment, and then you will feel more comfortable with introducing it to the students. You will probably have also discovered many different ways you may include it authentically in learning that you hadn’t considered before.
New ways with Twitter
Twitter is well known as a fabulous tool for educators (and others) to use in developing a Professional Learning Network (PLN). I have written about Twitter and the value of Professional Learning Networks before, and with the ability to connect with wisdom from all over the world, it is one of the best sources for new ideas, resources, teaching tools and feedback. If you have a quality network, just ten minutes on Twitter will reward you with a bounty of education insights.
Twitter is a great tool for professional learning, but it can also be harnessed for powerful learning with students. Not every student needs to have an account for you to use Twitter in the classroom. In fact, as students under the age of 13 are not permitted to have an account, often a class account, created by the teacher is the only way to go. You can use a class account very effectively to not only model how to use Twitter safely and appropriately, but also to share the work students are doing, collaborate with other classes on Twitter, communicate with parents and stay up to date with current affairs.
Twitter accounts can be protected, so what is shared is only available to those who have asked and been permitted to follow. Therefore the community may be closed to just parents and students, or left open (if you have older students) to communicate with the world.
Why not use Twitter in the classroom to:
Increasingly important world and local events are being shared using social media, including Twitter. One great example is @AnzacLive, which was an experience across multiple channels (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram). 30 journalists ‘took on’ the personae of 10 real people who lived through ANZAC Day, and using the journals of these people, recreated their lives on social media, as if it were a tool of communication 100 years ago. The ten individuals posted daily pictures and updates, sharing their experiences of the war, and members of the public were encouraged to interact with them, asking questions and chatting with them. The journalists had access to war historians who guided their responses, to ensure an authentic experience.
Many events now have a hashtag (e.g. International Women’s Day, Australia Day etc) and these provide an engaging way for students to interact with the world and share the experience with others, as well as learning about others’ perspectives on the celebration.
An increasing number of classes are getting online to share their learning with others. One fantastic example is #KidsedchatNZ – a twitter chat that takes place every Wednesday between 2-3pm across New Zealand. The aim of Kidsedchatnz is to motivate kids to be active, engaged and connected learners, and each week a series of questions are posted on the Kids Ed Chat blog, for the participants to respond to during chat time. The experience not only provides a monitored experience of social media, it gives students the ability to discuss their learning with students from all over the country, and acts as a moderation tool for teachers, as they can assess their own students’ level of understanding against others. Why not consider creating a chat opportunity with a range of classes across your state or region? The model of Kidsedchat NZ is easy to follow, and can be explored both on Twitter using the hashtag #KidsedchatNZ, as well as the blog: http://kidsedchatnz.blogspot.co.nz/
This year the Anne Frank Trust and Penguin books marked the 70th anniversary of Anne’s death with a one minute campaign called #notsilent.
Instead of a one minute’s silence to commemorate Anne Frank’s short life, participants were asked to read out loud a one minute passage from Anne’s inspirational writing. They provided a selection of passages suitable or participants could choose one yourself, or they were encouraged to read something they had written about their own life and hopes. Participants were also asked to start or end the reading by explaining why they chose to take part.
This is a new way to raise awareness, share information, and reflect; it could be transformed in many ways for students to promote a particular cause, or share reflections on a text. By recording voice clips using Vocaroo, or creating short video clips and sharing on a website such as YouTube or Vimeo, a tweet with the link and a relevant hashtag could be a powerful way to inform others of student learning or opinion.
One of the great aspects of using social media in learning and teaching is that you can actively teach critical skills that allow students to participate more safely online. A fantastic activity which does just that is to search for well know public figures on Twitter, and identify which account actually belongs to them. A good example is Julia Gillard’s account- the first is fake…how do we know this?
It may be that the open nature of Twitter is just a little too much if you are completely new to social media. If this is the case, why not try Twiducate: a solution for elementary and secondary students. Rather than having your students sign up and enter an email address, you sign up and create a class code. Using this code, your students log in to your class network.
Here, they can answer questions, collaborate on problems, and even embed pictures and videos. As a teacher you have full control over the network. You can even add other teachers! This gives a similar experience to Twitter (although they will not be able to connect with the wider community).
Just like Twitter, there are lots of ways that you can use this tool to model proper and responsible use of social media, and loads of creative teaching ideas; some of which you can read about in this great blog post by Tait Coles.