A guest post by Douglas McConatha, Ph.D, one of the co-creators of the WebStudy LMS.
I bn usin Twitter N my soc classes 4 a year & IMHO Twitter is Gr8 N th Classrm
I’m sure some of you are cringing RN right now.
However, when properly implemented from a social learning perspective (see Gisele’s previous post on this topic), social media and other social web tools can effectively create a richer learning experience for students and instructors alike.
Let me offer a few examples of how tools like blogs and Twitter and wikis can be used effectively and without disrupting the stability and equanimity of your classroom or the work you’ve already constructed in your LMS. First, some assumptions:
- Most students use one or more of these “tools”: Twitter, Facebook, wikis, blogs.
- The instruments for interacting with these kinds of sites are already in the hands of most (if not all) of your students.
- They will be used during your lectures and discussions, whether you permit it or not.
- These tools can be very good avenues to knowledge.
If you can relate to at least two of these assumptions, I’d say try some of these approaches outlined below.
Twitter can be a powerful presence in the classroom, particularity if you teach more than one section of the same course. I read three newspapers almost every day and each of these papers allows you to tweet articles into the twitterverse (for the uninitiated, this is the part of the new Knowledge Ecosystem where all Tweets live). So I require all my student to look for a hashtag (a keyword proceeded by #) that identifies articles I want to discuss for that day or the next. For my Social Problems course I attach #SOC370 to the article and the students can find it with a simple search of Twitter. Many use their smart phones or tablets or computers to look at the articles as we discuss and most have already read the piece. I test on these articles as well.
Blogs, discussion boards and wikis are useful in LMS systems like WebStudy for developing ideas and sharing thoughts as students begin to collaborate on projects and presentations. I’ve found this particularly effective to follow a group’s development of an idea or approach to a problem. I look at them without the students having to submit something to me but I can comment only on the ones I see problems with.
Facebook and Google+ can broaden the scope and include folks external to your course, curriculm or school. But by inserting a link into your LMS, you ease the navigation for participants and protect the privacy of the other students in the class by keeping some aspects internal to the LMS. Once in Facebook or Google + you can add additional folks to your working group (say an external mentor or advisor or an Internship supervisor) that can help advise the group. This gives the students a taste of the real world and helps them to branch out of the Academy and into places they will spend the rest of their lives as professionals. And I can tell you: they like it.
But exactly what is so attractive about LMS and social technologies to students and instructors? And how is it effective?
As Stanley Fish illustrated this very point in a recent opinion piece in the New York Times Blog space:The effect of these technologies is to transform a hitherto linear experience — a lone reader facing a stable text provided by an author who dictates the shape of reading by doling out information in a sequence he controls — into a multi-directional experience in which voices (and images) enter, interact and proliferate in ways that decenter the authority of the author who becomes just another participant.
As I see it, social learning disrupts education and creates fertile ground for the creation of a global Knowledge Ecosystem — or that space we used to call “education.”