Tag Archives: twitter

Moving Forward With or Without Technology

In our previous discussions, we have talked about technology and its implications on education.  Educational systems, new robotic technologies, and the use of iPads are just some of the vast technological feats that can positively impact education – and such awesome new avenues for advancing education should excite all of us! But unfortunately, the reality is many of these advancements are being neglected, regulated, or are just inaccessible both worldwide and in the United Sates. Across the globe, only CNN reports that only 38% of the population has access to such technologies and many Americans simply don’t have proper resources to keep up with the technological boom.

How does this affect education – from the elementary to collegiate level? 

Regulation of Technology

Credit: http://mbsform6esl.blogspot.com Click for the pros and cons of allowing cell phones in schools!

First off, how is education impacted in school systems where teachers are disallowed from using certain technologies? On a high school level, New York City has banned students from having cell phones on campus because of concerns about distraction; the same schools have limited technology resources (like lap tops) to share throughout the entire building, so teachers are stifled in their abilities to incorporate interactive multimedia aspects to their lesson plans. Similar school, city, and county regulations disallow the use of other technologies that possess educational capabilities, not allowing educators to implement them as they would like.

In addition,a report from The Center for Technology Innovation at Brookings explains that government budget cuts to education systems have had a large impact on limiting the amount of money that can go towards upgrading the technologies used in schools. According to the report’s authors, these budgetary limitations haven’t allowed educators to take advantage of upgraded assessment technology, leaving schools unable to accurately and effectively monitor their students’ performance and leading to a missed opportunity to cut costs on testing. Because of these regulations that do not utilize upgraded technology systems, the outdated scannable scantron has become the pinnacle of assessment technology, potentially causing students to be left behind because of the extremely limited number of ways in which tests can currently be administered.

Inaccessibility of Technology

Like I said earlier, only 38% of the world has access to technology, which leaves 62% “in the dark.” While such a large technological divide has many implications, a large one is that it currently leaves many students without essential learning tools (including access to multiple viewpoints and the latest information!). However, the light is at the end of the tunnel according to a Google Executive who optimistically predicts that by 2020, the entire world will have access to these technologies. Currently, Africa is striving toward that goal, according to BBC – in 2011, Africa was the fastest growing mobile phone market in the world! This increase in cellular technology may provide the ability for these countries, cities, and villages with the resources they need to adequately educate their students, creating a brighter picture for tomorrow. Check out the following video for some insight into how quickly this technology has been growing!

But when considering the inaccessibility of technology and its impact on education, you even have to look overseas. An article posted on Slate.com tells us that 22% of families in the United States don’t have broadband capabilities in their home, meaning that even as advancements in technology keep coming, the ability to access them will remain stagnant. Many students (especially at a primary education level) may struggle to keep up in class if a majority of their work is done online and they don’t have access to broadband at home. To help prevent this gap, teachers should be conscientious of the technological limitations their students may face at home and ensure that ample time and resources can be accessed by the student.

As the digital age continues, what does the future hold? Will the digital divide be eliminated? How can technology become more accessible? Does a lack in technology use mean a lack in the educational experience? Do education and technology go hand-in-hand?

These are questions that as educators, you need to ask yourselves. It seems that many educators strive to bring the newest learning experience to the student. Is that the best learning experience?

The conversation may be two-sided. Dr. Mark Harvey teaches history at North Dakota State University, and although he does occasionally use powerpoint, he strictly enforces a no lap top or cellphone policy in his class and requires all assignments to be turned in as a paper copy. He sees this as more effective and less distracting. Is he just old-fashioned, stubborn, or is he effective?

Credit: Karenjlloyd.com

Educators, how do you incorporate technology? What are current limitations you face, and how do you overcome them?

Comment and let us know!

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Teacher! Will you be my Facebook friend?

Since so many high school and college students use social media as one of their main forms of communication, should schools too?  More specifically, should teachers use social media to connect with their students?

This topic has always sparked controversy, especially since there are typically not set standards on online teacher-student relationships.

One of the main reasons for not using social media for teachers to communicate with their students is that inappropriate behavior may be encouraged. Nancy Willard, author of “Cyber Savvy: Embracing Digital Safety and Civility,” believes that schools should establish their own online environments and use programs specifically designed for educational purposes. Willard believes that the main problem with websites like Facebook, is that they are set up primarily for socializing. “On Facebook, flirting is encouraged.” Willars said. “You are encouraged to post your relationship status and your relationship interests. That’s not appropriate for a relationship between teachers and students.”

To prevent instances like this from happening, the Huffington Post reports that over 40 primary school districts across the country have now decided to take this situation into their own hands with the approval of social media policies.

Other high schools have reportedly decided against creating a social media policy for the time being, in fear of violating student/teacher rights and because they believe it will soon become outdated anyways. Instead, they advise faculty to use their best judgment. For many, this means not accepting friend requests from students on social media websites.

Other options besides communicating via personal social networking sites include:

  • Using Twitter, only to answer questions the students may have or to facilitate group discussion
  • Using websites like Blackboard, which offers interactive options like discussion boards and instant messaging and can be downloaded as applications on smart phones
  • Using class-specific web pages or blogs, like WordPress (click to check out our course’s blog!)

For those who feel that social media sites like Facebook are necessary in order to communicate with their students, they could always consider the possibility of having two accounts. By having two separate accounts, teachers are able to still keep their personal information from students and remain professional – something important on both the high school and college level.

The Huffington Post reports that David Roush, who teaches media communications and television production at a New York high school, implements this policy and does not accept students as friends on his personal Facebook account, but instead has a separate account that he has created specifically for interacting with his students. He believes that older methods of communication, such as email, are outdated and not as effective as social media sites. By using Facebook, Roush is able to quickly reach his students. In fact, Roush used Facebook to let his students know about a summer internship, and one of his students who viewed the post applied and actually won. “If I would have emailed him, if I had tried calling him, he never would have got it,” Roush said.

Still, the idea of teachers interacting with their students via Facebook and similar social media platforms makes some people uncomfortable, mostly due to the higher level of intimacy involved in the nature of the sites. A report by an Amarillo, Texas ABC Affiliate considers these potential for inappropriate relationships to stem from these social media sites:

What do you think? Do you have any experiences or opinions on teacher-student relationships? We would love to hear your thoughts!

(If you liked this post, you may also be interested in our past posts on how social media affects our education and how social media can be used appropriately inside and outside of the classroom!)

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Social Media Appropriateness Inside and Outside of the Classroom

As we discussed in our post two week ago, social media used for classroom purposes can be incredibly convenient. Using Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube can be extremely helpful to get in touch with professors and classmates, especially since we’re on them 24/7!

Credit: edudemic.com

And, as college students, most of us are aware of the importance of our social media profiles. Whether we are trying to build our own brand, acquire an internship or career, or even impress the guy or girl sitting behind you in class, we need to be aware of what our social media profiles say about us.

The members of our group (and we’re sure most of our readers) have been told the importance of the appropriateness of our social media profiles by countless professors. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ can all be used as great tools to improve our online image, but most often, end up hurting our academic and professional credibility.

So what can we do to clean up our profiles?

Staffing Resource, a group to help focused on preparing young professionals to enter the job market, has some fantastic tips to help our fellow college students improve their presence on social networking sites –

  1. Pictures – It’s time to delete (or hide) all of those embarrassing pictures. Absolutely no party pics people… they weren’t cool
    then, and they definitely aren’t cool now. Employers are looking for responsible adults, not party girls/boys. These sloppy pictures could cost you an interview, or worse – your job! In addition, incriminating photos can seriously (and negatively) affect your academic life – Times recently reported that inappropriate and racist photographs posted after a Duke University fraternity party resulted in suspensions.

    social-media-profiles

    Credit: mediabistro.com

  2. Content – What does your bio say about you? Do you have some idiotic Jersey Shore quotes? Get rid of them! Fill your bio with things you are proud of-  accomplishments, awards, education, hobbies, anything that makes you stand out in a good way! We can all love Snooki and Jwoww, but let’s keep it off of our LinkedIn profiles.
  3. Friends – Prospective employers may look at your connections. If some of those friends happen to seem displeasing to an employer, you might too. Simply unfollow/unfriend them.
  4. Update – With so many different social media sites, it can get a little overwhelming to keep up with them all. But, it is important to update your profiles frequently. Sent a witty tweet, or share a link on Facebook to make your page more appealing and less outdated.
  5. Username – If you have a username with the number 69 in it, it’s time to let it go. Email addresses are especially prone to these obsolete parodies. Stick to your first name and last name, or some similar concoction, and you’ll be fine. E-mail addresses provided by schools are nearly always both appropriate and professional.
  6. (Frequently) Google yourself – If there’s something you don’t like, delete it from your own page, or if you don’t have access, contact the website and ask them to take it down for you. It’s as simple as that.

Now that we’ve told you what NOT to do, what you SHOULD do is simple –

  1. Be your (professional) self
  2. Be unique
  3. Appear credible

As college juniors and seniors, we have so much to lose from an incriminating tweet/post/picture/etc. These rules apply to inside and outside of the classroom. Not only can prospective employers look you up, but so can professors, fellow students, even the dean of your college. So, as fellow education bloggers, we need to recognize the importance of employment after graduation and the importance of social media for the entirety of its existence.

Social media is a beautiful thing, if used correctly.

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Social Education

It’s 7:30 a.m., your alarm just went off, and before you even think about eating breakfast, you log into your Facebook account. After you login, you notice that you have three new notifications. The first notification is from your professor, letting you know that class is canceled today – a big, sleepy smile spreads across your face. The second and third notifications are to let you know that two of your classmates recently posted in your History 320 group. You ignore the posts from your classmates and scroll down your newsfeed instead. Right away, you notice that your friend updated her status about the tough statistics exam that she has at 9:00 a.m. today. Wait a minute! You are in that statistics class and you completely forgot about that test! All of a sudden that smile is wiped off your face as you scramble out of bed and frantically look for your notes.

Sound Familiar?

If it does, then you probably belong to one of the many schools that now incorporate social media into the educational experience. In fact, an education technology study conducted by OnlineColleges.net found that 100% of universities surveyed utilize a Facebook account, 80% use a Twitter account, and 70% have a Youtube channel.

However, the study also reported that only approximately 53% of students have a smartphone, meaning that not everyone can take advantage of all that social media has to offer. To abolish this problem and even the playing field, Qualcomm’s Wireless Reach Initiative is working to provide those who cannot afford the Internet with smartphones. According to the the program, after smartphones were provided to needy students, standardized test performance increased drastically, with a 30% improvement rate!

The cause of this dramatic increase?

No longer did their learning stop when they left the classroom! By using the internet and social media, students now had the ability to communicate more easily with their peers and could access information whenever, and where ever, they wanted to.

With a greater appreciation of the positive impact that social media can have on education, many social media-esque programs have been designed with that specific purpose in mind (check out last week’s post for some great examples!). One example of a social media tool utilized here at North Dakota State University is Blackboard, a program that allows teachers to maintain grades, post information about class, and incorporate discussion boards into their courses. Now Blackboard even has an app that can be used on most smartphones, making it easier for students to have access to their educational information around the clock. In addition, social sites like RateMyProfessors.com can be utilized by students to communicate with one another about their classroom experiences, aiding in registration and course planning.

Even from our own personal experiences, we have found that social media has been a helpful tool in the advancement of our education. In fact, as a group we even use Facebook to bounce ideas back and forth on to how to increase the success of this blog!

What are your thoughts and experiences on using social media in the classroom?

We’d love to hear your opinion!

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