Sponsored by Facebook I did some work recently for the EUN where we looked at the role of Social Media in Learning and Education (SMILE). One of the outputs of my contribution to the project was a professional development eLearning course for European Teachers and Head Teachers on the use of Social Media in Schools.
As this part of the course has now finished (and we have gone into the community development phase) I am re-posting a version of the materials here so others can benefit from them.
This is part 3 of 6 - Using social media for learning and teaching - pedagogical principles
Using social media for learning and teaching - pedagogical principles: The Video
Using social media for learning and teaching - pedagogical principles: The Course Notes and Links
In unit one of the SMILE Course we discussed some common characteristics of social media. These characteristics included:
- Social Media challenges traditional models
- Social Media allows people to communicate
- Social Media allows people to collaborate
- Social Media gives people an audience
- Social Media services often remove hierarchy and are built from the bottom up
- Social Media is open and transparent
Many countries globally are trying to create classrooms that challenge traditional models and reverse the hierarchy, allow young people to communicate and collaborate, that provide authentic audience for children’s work and exist within systems that are both open and transparent.
This means that by embracing the use of social media tools for learning and teaching we can start to build a culture that may help contribute to the reform of our school systems.
This post looks as some examples of how social media has been used successfully to enhance learning and teaching.
Young people are engaged when they are learning about things or with things that they can relate too or that are relevant to them. Social media is highly cultural relevant at the moment for young people (from Facebook to the Xbox Live) and harnessing these tools for education can develop powerful contexts for learning.
Social media is also highly relevant across society in the UK in 2011 eight out of the ten most popular search terms were directly linked to a social website. Facebook was the most popular search term in the UK.
As all experienced educators know one ingredient of a successful lesson is to try to use up-to-date, real and authentic data rather than contrived data that young people can not relate to. Twitter is a good social media service to help with this because you can ask your twitter followers to provide you with data that can then be used within the lesson.
One example of this is the Twitter snow lesson where a teachers twitter network was asked where they lived and if it was snowing. The tweets were plotted on to a Google Map and then the map imported into Google Earth where the real-time satellite imagery could be overlaid onto the map. The pattern that emerged provided an excellent context for discussing the weather, weather patters and weather systems.
As well as collecting data from twitter followers there are a number of twitter accounts that regularly provide information that can be used in classes. One example of this is the UK War Cabinet from the UK National Archives. By visiting or following this twitter account you can watch the events of WWII unfold 70 years to the day through the original Cabinet Papers. It is a good example of how comparative real-time data can also be engaging for children and young people. Another great live example is Titanic in Real Time which documenting the journey of the Titanic from its launch to fate exactly100 years to the day.
Google Docs (which is part of the Google Apps for Education suite) provide actual real-time collaboration for students and staff working on word-processing documents, spreadsheets and presentations. You can have up to 50 people collaborating in real time within a document.
Well-managed collaboration on student projects normally results in an improved output and increased student pride. Meaningful collaboration is also a vital skill within enterprise education.
Google Plus can equip classrooms with a free ten-seat videoconference solution to allow face-to-face collaboration across geography, time zones and classrooms. Along with other services such as Skype in the Classroom social media video conferencing provide a great opportunity to beam in experts into your classroom.
Social media can also be used to provide authentic audience for children’s work. A good place to start might be the production of a Wikipedia Page for your school or an article for something in your local area.
Writing, re-writing or editing an article about your school in Wikipedia can easily be the output of a well researched cross-curricular project and at the same time it is likely to improve the image / marketing of your school (Wikipedia is very popular in Google rankings).
This type of task is also hugely empowering for students. How often do they normally get to publish to the largest encyclopaedia in the world?
Classroom blogs or blogs used as ePortfolio can also be used to generate audience for young peoples work. Leamore Primary School in Walsall, UK is a great example of this. Each class has their own class blog and each pupil has their own blog which is used as an ePortfolio of their best work and reflections on learning. The ePortfolio Blogs are password protected for safety reasons but parents have access to the password so they can see what their children have been learning about.
Another way to provide audience for students work is through sites like YouTube - effectively creating a school television station. A good example of this is the Drummond Community High School, Edinburgh, UK Animation Club.
5. Data Collection
Research into the use of social media in schools is difficult because things change so quickly before any meaningful longitudinal research can be done.
However, one piece of research from Professor Stephen Heppell (University of Bournemouth, UK) and Carole Chapman supported by the Nominet Trust and called Cloud Learn (www.cloudlearn.net) is worth investigating.
The Phase One Report that was published in January 2012 shares examples of how Social Media Tools such as Facebook, mobile phones, YouTube and Twitter are all being effectively used in schools.
Links for you to explore and reflect on -
Social media services that can be use for learning and teaching:
- Google Apps for Education - http://goo.gl/sSMNQ
- Google Docs - http://goo.gl/B1eIW
- Google Plus - http://www.google.com/+/learnmore
- Microsoft Office 365 for Education - http://goo.gl/AQmvf
- Skype in the Classroom - http://education.skype.com
- SurveyMonkey - http://www.surveymonkey.com
- Facebook Polls - www.facebook.com/OpinionPolls
Examples of interesting practice from schools:
- Twitter Weather Lesson - http://goo.gl/rwISq
- Twitter Maths Lesson - http://goo.gl/tAAWp
- Twitter UK War Cabinet Page - https://twitter.com/ukwarcabinet
- Twitter Titanic Page - https://twitter.com/titanicrealtime
- Leamore Primary School - http://leamoreblogs.net
- Dummond Community High School Animation Club - http://goo.gl/s5hKq
- Cloud Learn Research - www.cloudlearn.net