Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Shhh... no talking!

I am teaching an online course about Internet Safety and this week was about Social Networking.  One of the discussion questions was basically:  Is there a place for social networking in the schools.  The answer an ear splitting: maybe!

Seriously though.  a reoccuring comment by those who see it as negative is: 
Kids are supposed to be learning in class.  There is no place for socializing.  They can socialize on their own time.
Well sure they can, but don't we want them to do homework on their own time too?  The lines between home and work life are blurring as we see more flexibility available due to connectivity.  Additionally,  I personally believe that as long as we avoid the internet as the domain of "them" then we don't have a stake in how it turns out.  When responsible thoughtful adults and educators take back some of that territory and use the internet for worthwhile purposes I think students will follow suit.  As far as learning being more important than socializing.  Isn't learning a social experience?  I learn from what I talk to people about, from listening to their opinions and disagreeing with them.  Sometimes heatedly.  We are social beings.  Education is a social construct that is designed (at least ideally) to take the very best people in our society and have them pass on our social and cultural values. I think we learn socially and as long as we are going to help students learn we need to find ways to cultivate exceptional conversations in our learning environments.

Another person, commented: They don't have time to be commenting on someone's hair.  Why not?  We do it all the time.  In the hall, with other teachers, in the lunch room, even when a student comes in dressed a little nicer I would often ask "Why so dressed up?"  I would get varying responses, but invariably it was a time I connected socially with these people I was teaching.  I stand firm in my conviction that people learn from people they know care!  We must be social, the question is what it too socialy to effectively teach.


Glen Westbroek said...

My feeling is that teachers should demonstrate a caring attitude and teach students how to be social appropriately while on-line. As I have had opportunities to do this in my classroom I have found students behaviors in the classroom changed for the better. It may be a challenge for the "Experienced Teacher" to allow such social networking in class - but can yield huge results. One student while sharing the Animoto video got such huge positive responses that she offered to teach other students how they could create one.

How often do I personally visit websites, blogs, or use twitter as a way to extend my personal learning. I have a huge belief that development of a Personal Learning Network is one of the best things a teacher can do. In addition, I feel it is our responsibility to help our students develop their own PLNs and use them appropriately.

Jorgie said...

Glen, I agree so much with the idea of PLN's for students. What a fantastic structure for kids to begin developing. I think it is optimism that help folks see the good in the connectivity of social networking and fear and pessimism that prompts people to focus on the the (very real) risks of online predators and identity theft.

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