As I continue to increase my repertoire of technology tools to use in the classroom, I often wonder about community and administrative approval of this change in teaching and learning. In my experience, there have not been many opportunities to see the increase of technology in practice so I have been unable to weigh out the pros and cons in an authentic setting. While browsing Google Scholar, I found an interesting article about the successes of this program in Taiwan which led me to ask — how far behind are our schools?
This article explores the idea of using social networking as a tool for learning, community involvement, collaboration and differentiation. In a specific school example, researchers explore these uses in a science context and record the attitudes of teachers towards these changes. They found that the use of social networking, combined with hands-on natural learning improved student success at every level of proficiency. Students were able to make connections and carry academic discussions with others all over the world at the same level. In addition to creating a community of learning, this strategy allows for students to express their multiple intelligences by documenting learning through visuals, audio, mini-blogging as well as in traditional ways. The study found that the majority of teachers were willing to try social networking despite the structural classroom change.
Although this sounds like a great idea, many educators in Canada might be apprehensive about this change — especially with the use of networks such as facebook, twitter and instagram which have received negative publicity from many teachers (in relation to privacy and job security). In addition, many parents may resist the idea of their students developing global relationships with strangers. Of even more concern, will the school’s infrastructure support the expanded use of technology? In my school, it would be a large waste of time with bandwidth issues and screening restrictions put on student access to particular sites.
If Saskatchewan schools are able to catch up to the rest of the world, this article highlights some fantastic benefits to this type of learning:
1) Increase in collaboration and globalization
2) Welcomes differentiation in modes of learning, communication and expression
3) Welcomes community involvement and participation
4) Insists on the continued importance of the natural environment, inquiry and exploration in the use of technology
To find out more — check out the article: Using Social Networking in Elementary Science Learning