Prior to taking EDTECH 543, social networking was something I was very skeptical of and did not participate in. It is not as though I am anti-social or do not collaborate well with others, but I have to admit the thought of not “knowing” who I was sharing information with caused me quite a lot of anxiety. As one to err on the side of caution, I avoided social networking until I had to create a Facebook page and Twitter account in EDTECH 501. This was completely out of my comfort zone however it did capture my curiosity on ways to authentically integrate it into my curriculum. Taking small steps, I decided it would be a good experience for my class to Tweet the pope. What this actually looked like was not exactly what I had envisioned. We ended up following him, which was interesting but not exactly the authentic experience intended. The choice to implement any classroom technology should be based on sound learning theory and should support a specific aspect of the curriculum (Tomaszewski, 2012). It was obvious that I needed to reassess how I was using Twitter in the classroom.
In looking for ways to integrate social networking in the classroom, I knew from EDTECH 501 that I was seriously lacking in personal experience. How could I possibly bring social networking into my class if I had no hands-on? The only way to correct this inadequacy was by practical application. Sure, I could have looked at online examples of how other teachers are using social networking in the classroom, which is helpful but I needed to do it myself in an environment where I could receive feedback and constructive criticism. This was the driving reason to take EDTECH 543. EDTECH 543 has provided me with the tools and resources I was lacking. Now I am much more prepared to integrate different types of social networking in the classroom providing students with the opportunity to collaborate and share their work with others not only in the class but globally. Collaboration is a key 21st century skill students must acquire during their elementary years.
Throughout this course, I have been introduced to so many different approaches to integrating social networking in the classroom. Considering that quality often out weights quantity, I am going to carefully select the platforms to be used. Since each platform has a different impact on the learning process and in order to not overwhelm my 4th grade students, I will start off slowly by introducing them to Edmodo. Due to the limited number of computers in my classroom I already know I will never be able to have all students using Edmodo at the same time but I will come up with a solution by the time school starts this fall. Not only will the students be online in a secure environment, they will be able to collaborate with one another, access homework, and share their work. I will have to provide training to the parents so they can follow their child’s progress. As my students become more accustomed to using social networking in the classroom, I will begin introduce them to more types of tools and resources. By the end of the school year, I truly believe the students will have established a personal learning network following the social networking policies set out in the beginning of the year.
Professionally several of the social networks used during this course would be particularly useful include live virtual presentations and Edmodo. The live virtual presentations were a completely new experience to me. Although I have participated in webinars previously, the live platform was a unique experience. Between the live webinars and Twitter chats, I have been introduced to an aspect of social networking I failed to utilize. Whether it was because of inexperience or skepticism, I now recognize the value of these networks in keeping current with new ideas and best practices in education. I have already spoken with the principal about integrating webinars and Twitter chats into our professional development.
My introduction to Edmodo was self-initiated and I am so glad I took the chance to acquaint myself with this platform. I had explored it several months ago but quickly gave up thinking how in the world am I ever going to use this. When we were tasked to design a mini curricular unit, I needed to identify a platform I felt comfortable exposing my students to. Much to my surprise, I am now wondering how many ways can I use Edmodo in the classroom. As discussed earlier, Edmodo is an outstanding resource for the students but what about the teacher. Not only am I going to be able to use it for the students, but I now also belong to a group of teachers with much in common. It is my hope when I introduce Edmodo to the teaching staff at the school where I teach that they view with an enthusiasm similar to mine. I am going to continue to acquaint myself with Edmodo and have plans to actively utilize it during the upcoming school year.
Aside from having difficulties with Facebook during this class, which may have actually been a blessing in disguise, I can no longer identify myself as a lurker. Whereas I may not be as active with the personal side of social networking as some of my acquaintances, professionally I cannot imagine not networking with teachers and other educators outside of my building. The exposure to new thoughts and ideas gained from social networking has expanded my view of education and the integration of technology in the classroom.
In reviewing my blog performance throughout this course, I can definitely see a positive progression regarding social networking. EDTECH 543 introduced me a completely different perspective of social networking in the classroom. I am proposing 75/75 for my blog entries. My blog entries were written to not only to meet the rubric requirements but also, to help me better understand the positive impact social networking can have in the classroom.
As someone who has regularly taken risks in life albeit with caution, it is difficult to admit that social networking was one area I was very cautious about. EDTECH 543 has proven that I need to take those risks. I always warn my students when we try something new, there may be some learning curve but if we don’t take a chance, we never know what we might be missing out on.
Tomaszewski, J. (2012). Study suggests benefits of social media in the classroom. Education World. Retrieved from http://www.educationworld.com/a_curr/study-suggests-social-media-has-place-in-classrooms.shtml