March was like a lion for me… beginning, middle, and end. I wish there was a better excuse, but that’s the long and short of it. Conferences, prepping my portfolio for my annual review, teaching, grading, etc.
OK, enough of that.
My purpose tonight is to just capture some thinking on a presentation that Rob Rozema and I will give at the Bright Ideas Conference this weekend: Social Networking, Teacher Education, and the English Language Arts.
My main contribution to the presentation will be an annotated bibliography of sources on social networking in education. Here is what I have so far and I welcome any insights that you may have to add to this list. Feel free to comment here or jump right in and add something on the wiki:
- Resources by Educators
- Teachers Teaching Teachers: A weekly webcast that focuses on teaching writing with newer technologies, often related to social networking
- Ning in Education
- Steve Hargadon’s post about Social Networking in Education on the Infinite Thinking Machine blog
- Social Networks in Education Wiki
- Wesley Fryer’s Moving at the Speed of Creativity blog: Fryer blogs regularly about social networking in K-12 schools
- Research, Scholarship, and Policy Briefs
- danah boyd’s publications: boyd is a scholar from the University of California-Berkeley, who researches social networking
- Educause’s 7 Things You Should Know about Series: Clear and concise overviews of a number of technologies, including social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr
- Pew Internet and American Life Project
- MacArthur Foundation’s Digital Media and Learning Site
- News and Media
Also, I am trying to think about how to discuss the idea of social networking. What I have found with my experiences in using any social technology is that the teacher really is key to making it work. Be it a discussion board, a blog, a wiki, or a social network, if the teacher talks the talk about using technology, yet doesn’t walk the walk, then it is likely that the students won’t follow.
On a related note, I often wonder about our efforts as teachers to adapt technologies that students are using for their own personal purposes and then connecting it to more academic purposes. In what ways does this co-opting of the technology change the use of it, for better and for worse? For instance, in the social network Rob and I set up this semester, I decided not to make it a “requirement” for my ENG 315 class, and I noticed that very few students have been active in the network as an extra curricular activity. What if I had made it a requirement? Would obligatory postings be worthwhile for students? Would the network have grown more in an organic manner, even though I required it to be fertilized?
As I prepare to present this weekend, these thoughts continue to roll around in my head. In some ways, I don’t even know that I consider myself a proficient user of social networks, as I am in a number of Ning, Facebook, and other groups, yet rarely participate in any meaningful way. I am just wondering how the norms of social networking map on to the academic life of a university faculty member, let alone K-12 teachers and students. I know that they can (as the examples above show), but I am still struggling to make it work for my students.
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