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3 Tips for Teachers using Social Media in the Classroom

August 30, 2011

I found this article on Mashable, one of my favorite sites for all things digital and technological. The post is written by Dan Klamm, Marketing & Communications Coordinator at Syracuse University Career Services. Klamm leads social media engagement at Syracuse and has some no-nonsense things to say about adding social media to the classroom. Klamm writes:

Social media opens up all new avenues of communication for college students, their classmates and their professors. A typical class may only take a few hours a week, but now with social media, the classroom can be a lively, 24/7 experience. Professors are more accessible, often clarifying assignments via Twitter or sharing content on their blogs.

Students benefit from these extra communication channels. They can process information and contribute to class discussions at their own pace. They can more easily ask questions of their peers and professors.

This new layer of conversation also raises questions about appropriate boundaries, such as whether students and teachers can connect online as “friends.” The state of Missouri recently took a stand, declaring Facebook friendships between students and teachers illegal.

But that shouldn’t discourage the opportunities presented by social media in the classroom. Here are some guidelines for educators using social media effectively while maintaining professional boundaries.

Klamm goes on to describe three tips to use when considering when, where and how to use social media in the classroom:

1. Survey Your Students About Social Media

2. Utilize Groups and Communities

3. Establish Clearly Communicated Boundaries

Click here, for Klamm’s full post.


Teachers fight back against being ‘YouTubed’

August 26, 2011

This is an interesting article posted on the Winnipeg.ctv website that describes a disturbing new trend where students intentionally provoke and film their teachers and then post it on YouTube. Some of the videos include rants against the teachers, threats, slander and more. While some teachers are trying to include more social media in the classroom, this new trend has troubling implications. I have included a portion of the article below.

In one video a student rails against his teacher, explaining how much he “hates her” due to her “boring lessons.”

In another the message is more ominous, with the teenage student venting about his 11th grade science teacher and saying “I don’t even care if she sees this.”

He added, “I despise this lady. I never knew I could hate anybody this much,” before brandishing a knife and making stabbing motions towards the camera.

It’s called being “YouTubed” and the Internet is full of hundreds of videos of students either badmouthing their teachers or provoking them to explode in class, then recording the fireworks and posting it to the Web.

And parents have also gotten in on the action, posting videos where they verbally attack their kids’ teachers or post allegations against them. MORE.

Missouri restricts social media

August 16, 2011

This article, which appeared in the Journal Review Online, describes a new law in the State of Missouri, which is set to go into effect the end of August. I wonder how this law will impact the use of social media in schools and whether other states will adopt similar laws.

Teachers who use websites and social media networks as a part of their teaching curriculum might want to rethink their approach.

A new law in Missouri places restrictions on the amount of contact teachers and students can have online, particularly as it deals with private messages and interaction. The law pertains to public school teachers and personnel only.

One section in the new Missouri law forbids teachers from communicating privately with a student using a non-work social media account or website. Any discussions conducted between a teacher and student online must be completely public and transparent.

For example, if a teacher has a personal Facebook account and “friends” a student, any message on that account to that student that’s not accessible publicly is a violation of Missouri law. While a student, parent or teacher could theoretically all be “friends” in the social network, that fact alone doesn’t make communication between the student and teacher legal.

If the teacher sends the student a message privately on the system, or replies to a private note from a student — even if the inquiry is a practical one asking about a homework assignment or topic being discussed in class — that educator would be breaking the law if that message can’t be seen by everyone.

And that goes for all non-classroom educators as well, including principals and administrative personnel…More

In the article below, which sites the Missouri decision, they take another view.

States miss a social-media education opportunity

Found in the Washington Post Opinions: August 19

IN CLASSROOMS across the country, teachers are embracing new technology to reach their students. From social media, like Facebook and Twitter, to messenger programs such as Skype, teachers are more equipped to communicate with their students than ever before.

Charter school teachers in the successful Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) give students and parents their cellphone numbers and use social media to enhance the educational experience. The Internet not only can bring the world to every classroom, it also can strengthen communication between teachers and students.

However, in some places, new laws and proposed measures are impeding teacher communication with students outside of school-sanctioned e-mail systems. The most recent practitioner of educational technophobia is Missouri, which last month adopted legislation intended to ban direct communication between teachers and students via Facebook.

The law is so broad it could effectively also bar student-teacher contact via Gmail or other non-school e-mail services. MORE.

Digital Storytelling: 30+ Social Tools to Create Sharable, Memorable Stories

August 16, 2011

If you’re interested in using social media to tell the story of your business or organization, consider reading this short article by  Heather Whaling and then taking a look at all the resources she provides for developing a social media campaign that will make a difference for your endeavors.

Here’s a bit of the article and some links to pique your interest:

How often do we see companies leverage social media for generic asks: “Follow us on Twitter,” “Support our cause,” “Like us on Facebook.” But, why? How does having Brand X in my online world benefit me?

One core tenant of effective public relations is storytelling — getting beyond facts and figures to communicate value, impact, need. Social media isn’t just about amassing a large network. Rather, this idea of “humanizing” a brand can spark meaningful action.

Instead of simply asking someone to connect online, organizations should use social media to convey meaning and context…More

Education Needs a Digital-Age Upgrade

August 8, 2011

An excellent article found in the Opinion Pages of the New York Times. The piece was written by Virginia Heffernan, and is focused on why today’s education needs to change! I’ve posted part of the article below to pique your interest.


If you have a child entering grade school this fall, file away just one number with all those back-to-school forms: 65 percent.

Chances are just that good that, in spite of anything you do, little Oliver or Abigail won’t end up a doctor or lawyer — or, indeed, anything else you’ve ever heard of. According to Cathy N. Davidson, co-director of the annual MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning Competitions, fully 65 percent of today’s grade-school kids may end up doing work that hasn’t been invented yet.

So Abigail won’t be doing genetic counseling. Oliver won’t be developing Android apps for currency traders or co-chairing Google’s philanthropic division. Even those digital-age careers will be old hat. Maybe the grown-up Oliver and Abigail will program Web-enabled barrettes or quilt with scraps of Berber tents. Or maybe they’ll be plying a trade none of us old-timers will even recognize as work.

For those two-thirds of grade-school kids, if for no one else, it’s high time we redesigned American education.

As Ms. Davidson puts it: “Pundits may be asking if the Internet is bad for our children’s mental development, but the better question is whether the form of learning and knowledge-making we are instilling in our children is useful to their future.”

In her galvanic new book, “Now You See It,” Ms. Davidson asks, and ingeniously answers, that question. One of the nation’s great digital minds, she has written an immensely enjoyable omni-manifesto that’s officially about the brain science of attention. But the book also challenges nearly every assumption about American education.

Don’t worry: She doesn’t conclude that students should study Photoshop instead of geometry, or Linux instead of Pax Romana. What she recommends, in fact, looks much more like a classical education than it does the industrial-era holdover system that still informs our unrenovated classrooms.

Simply put, we can’t keep preparing students for a world that doesn’t exist. We can’t keep ignoring the formidable cognitive skills they’re developing on their own. And above all, we must stop disparaging digital prowess just because some of us over 40 don’t happen to possess it. An institutional grudge match with the young can sabotage an entire culture. More….

Students contribute unique talents to oral history project

August 7, 2011
This is a great idea for community groups or schools that are interested in preserving community history and promoting communication and technology skills among youth.
Hannibal, MO —

The wisdom of age and the innocence of youth melded together this week into a workshop that has the potential of changing the course of community attitudes.

As an offshoot of the Community Partnership for Reconciliation, a group of Hannibal youth signed on to participate in an Oral History Project. Under the guidance of Pam Taylor, a photojournalist from Sodona, Ariz., the young people learned interview techniques, shot portraits, conducted interviews, operated sound equipment and ultimately edited their work.
Ten people, ages 30 to 108, are being interviewed by the young people this week. Half of those interviewed are Caucasian, and the other half are African Americans. All answered questions posed by the young people on the topics such as race and role models… More.


Dad, Dementia and the Kindle DX

July 29, 2011

Last fall my 76 year-old father, a big fan of electronic gadgets but not such a big fan of reading, ended up being the beneficiary of what he calls my “electronic cast-offs.” In this particular case, the item in question was my Kindle DX.

The Kindle might seem like an odd gift for my Dad, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s about five years ago, but in his situation the label of Alzheimer’s doesn’t mean he can’t learn some new things.  Yes, Dad has moments when he loses his place and doesn’t remember what he’s doing or he doesn’t remember a person’s name or the chronology of events, and he likes to be reminded about what’s going to happen each day, but he continues to be able to do things that the typical Alzheimer sufferer cannot.

The dementia-related symptoms associated with my father’s condition have resulted in feelings of anxiety about making mistakes and anxiety about being in large crowds. A former pastor and addictions counselor, imbued with a passion for intellectual conversations, Dad now often chooses to stay home instead of going out into social situations, which has resulted in the shrinking of his world.

When Dad received the Kindle in the mail, he was immediately thrilled–if not a bit dubious–about trying to learn a new electronic gadget. But, after a lengthy phone call where we set up his Kindle account together, my Dad was able to download his first few books.  Later he would not remember how to get back into his Amazon account, but we dealt with that during one of my visits and since then it has not been a problem.

My Mother informs me that within two months of using the Kindle, Dad stopped using their computer and had become a voracious reader. By his own account, Dad estimates he has downloaded over 700 books–most of them free–from Amazon’s website.  During a visit for their most recent wedding anniversary, my mother noted that in the entire 50 years of their marriage, Dad rarely ever read a book unless it was related to school or work, now she says, “it’s all I hear about.”

In a recent conversation with my Dad I tried to get a sense of why the Kindle has had such an impact on him.  I wanted to understand how he had gone from occasionally paging through coffee table books or his academic readings in theology to reading novel after novel…often laughing out loud and reading excerpts of the stories to whoever happens to be near.

Dad’s response is that the Kindle has opened up a whole new world for him.  For starters, he says he never loses his place in the Kindle.  He simply turns on the Kindle and he’s right where he left off.  Another big plus he notes is that the font is adjustable and so this allows him to read quite quickly through each page.  Add to that the fact that the Kindle’s e-ink screen is easy on the eyes and he can read outdoors on the deck or in the house with no glare and you have a winning combination.

I also suspect, that unlike the computer and websites that are constantly changing—think Facebook among others—the Kindle has remained static… something that Dad can rely on being the same, day in and day out. For him, reading has opened up a whole new world that he can now access on his own terms.  And, while his world may be shrinking on the outside, the Kindle has allowed him to broaden his world on the inside and keep his mind active.