April Showers Bring Me Back from the Blogging Drought

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:

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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1 thought on “April Showers Bring Me Back from the Blogging Drought”

  1. Troy,

    Whew! Busy man! Just a quick comment (maybe!) about requiring students to participate. For what ever reason (aside from Alfie Kohn’s theory) it seems as though the majority of students (and teachers) won’t try new things unless you make them! As a result we (those that see the value) have to nurture and guide the participation until the usefulness becomes more apparent. It is my first semester teaching at the university level during the regular school year and we are using classblogmeister for the blogging REQUIREMENT. Mainly for read, respond, generate discussion type of an activity. It is going well now…after 14 weeks. At first it seemed artificial, but now they are writing with more compassion and depth, commenting more frequently (although even then, I made commenting an “assignment” one week…) The good thing is that we have been having a running discussion about learning and intrinsic motivation that is needed to continue to learn and grow as professionals. (I teach preservice teachers.) So the requirements, which I wish weren’t necessary, have led us to a multi-dimensional discussion of teaching, learning, and the importance of discovering your own personal learning networks.

    Good Luck this weekend!

    Like

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