Currently browsing Posts Tagged “Social network”

Microblogging: making the case for social networking in education

In the last post in the Technology in Modern Foreign Languages series, I set out to make a case for the use of social networking in education based on my own experience using microblogging with my classes over the past year.

According to Wikipedia, microblogging is a form of multimedia blogging that allows users to send short text updates or micromedia such as photos, video or audio clips and publish them, either to be viewed by anyone or by a restricted group which can be chosen by the user. The fact that these updates can be sent to a restricted group is an essential consideration in the context of education and online safety. Essentially, microblogging is the purpose for which the vast majority of students use social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace or, increasingly, microblogging services such as Twitter.

In the absence of an institutional Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), social networking online can be used as an extension to classroom teaching and as a tool to encourage communication and inquisitiveness among students, with the overarching objective of enhancing teaching and learning of by improving both teacher-student and student-student communication, and, in so doing, bridging the home-school divide.

The advent of what we adults call Web 2.0 -I say this because, to our students, Web 2.0 is the web- has brought us a myriad of tools with considerable educational potential that the education establishment would be unwise to overlook or disparage. Old fashioned ICT -word processing, powerpoint presentations and desktop applications in general- has often been demonstrated to motivate students.

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How good are you at communicating?

My dictionary tells me that communication is the exchange of information or news and the successful sharing of ideas and feelings. Communication therefore necessitates at least two parties who are ready and willing to facilitate such transfer of knowledge. Recently, vast improvements in the availability of the tools that enable us to communicate have ensured it is easier than ever. How are you making the most of these improvements to enhance communication between you and your pupils?

Consider the following scenarios, all of which I have experienced in my teaching career. Which one of them best describes how you and your colleagues communicate with your pupils at present?

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Thoughts about futurity

I have been thinking a lot over this holiday, as this year draws to a close, about just what shape teachers will take in the not so distant future. I am not talking about robot teachers or a revolutionary educational utopia. Although this revolution might still happen – some would say it should happen! – I am really only thinking about the next five to ten years.

So, in five years time, will teachers still use mainly textbooks, whiteboards and dry-wipe pens to introduce and develop topics? Will students in ten years time still use pens and notebooks (that’s jotters to you Scots) to take notes during lessons and do their homework? And will schools still encourage their students to acquire their knowledge solely from printed sources?

Sadly, I think the answer is yes, they will. Inertia is too strong a force.

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