Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Why we want students on Youtube

When we changed filtering policy, lots of people have been asking why we want to give students access to social networking site. They are worried that students will be off task, post dumb things on line or endanger themselves. What could possibly be worth these risks?

1. Students are already on social networking sites and they are already creating digital footprints. We need to teach them to create footprints that really show their strengths. If they can access Facebook, we can teach them how to protect their privacy. Teaching media literacy is critical responsibility for the modern teacher.

2. If students are bored and want to be using technology, the logical solution is to use the technology to promote learning not attempt to prevent them from accessing it. Technology is intimately connected with choice, which increases both motivation and potency.

3. Think about AFL classrooms. These are classrooms where students use products, conversations and observations as evidence of their learning. What holds evidence over time, shares it with authentic audience and provides opportunity for many iterations of feedback? Web 2.0 (no cape or tights or speeding bullets are needed).
4. There isn't much evidence that many students are lured or tracked more often virtually. Research says they are much more likely to be the targets of in person predators. The place where they are most often hurt online? Cyber-bullying. What does the research say can prevent it? Open dialogue in schools using social networking and cell phone examples.
In the end, we need to think about what our goal is for our high school students. I think it is education - give them the tools to learn, make good choices and represent themselves well. That means they need access and we have to teach them to use it responsibly.


  1. Thanks for putting your thoughts down in this blog. You are challenging me to think about my math classroom in a different way.

    I'm struggling to think about how to use these ideas in math though. It seems like it may fit with the new Gr 9 curriculum, so I'll need to consider this more next year. Start slow, and build up my confidence and the students' confidence. At my school, there are about 4-5 students in each of my classes who don't have a cell, or don't have internet at home. So what then? The library isn't a great option, especially when the computers are the hottest commodity at lunch-hours.

    Maybe you've seen this already, but here is an article about using Twitter in the classroom. Our school policy is "no cell phones," but what if we could use this technology that students are already familiar with and engaged in to further their learning?

  2. I think you are right that Math is a struggle. Twitter and Poll Everywhere are great tools for feedback in math, but there is the cell phone issue.

    One of the things I would recommend is having students create little how to movies on solving various types of problems. Then they need to articulate their process out loud (think metacognition), and it supports the understanding that there are mulitple ways of solving, especially if can also ask them to use estimating skills (depending on what you are doing). Screenr is a good tool for doing that online, and photostory is a good digital storytelling tool that's free. Neither requires students to shoot video, they can just use voice-over and still images.

    A friend just sent me a link to a great Math blog if you are interested.