I still remember talking to my friends in middle and high school. Teaching methods in some schools used to be as dry like an unbuttered toast and centred on rote method. As long as you could recite every important person, theories, formulae, history date and battles, laws passed, document signing, and benchmark law, you were an ace. This is a classic example of education without learning. The recitation of information without an understanding of its importance is not education. It’s an exercise in data.
For students of today, the exposure to technology is way high. They are constantly using smart phones, tablets, exposed to teaching using interactive whiteboard. For example – having trouble with your new smart phone? Ask any teenager they can give you a demo. Can’t make your interactive white board work? Chances are, one of your students can figure it out.
Young people now grow up in a world of media and socialism (world of social media). The challenge is not in introducing these technologies in school but its making sure its used responsibly. If schools shy away from this fact – then they are just further distancing themselves from the students of today. In the age of Web 2.0, why aren’t students using social media in the classroom? We already know that Twitter/Facebook is the fastest way to shift through information on breaking news stories. Blogs can be used to encourage creative writing and proper grammar skills. Sites such as Box and Dropbox allow learners and educators to share files together quickly and easily.
Sites such as Twitter and Facebook can be used to kick-start discussions in the classroom. Teachers can pull news stories from any of those sources. Students can ask questions and facilitate deeper discussion after reading something on one of the thousands of Social Media sites. Peer reviews can be instituted on writing projects. Students can locate an expert in a field they are interested in, and “shadow” them on the Web. “Geotagging” can be used to target and find information about places that are being studied. Creating a safe environment which is isolcated from unwanted distractions is the key here.
Some of the ideas on how can we better engage with our students with social media..
Constitute classroom blogs
The idea is that each class have their own blog, which is moderated by the teacher or mentor. All the blogs are authored by the students. The student who authors the most interesting essay or paper on the topic of that week will have an abstract of the analysis or report published online to the classroom blog. This will give them a huge sense of achievement and inspire the other students in the class to work harder to achieve online publication. To take this a step further, you could also add a friendly level of competition by having classes compete.
Everyone loves video, young people love video – it’s better receptive to a boring lecture inside a classroom. Videos should be being used more in school as a medium of teaching. Many schools use videos by Khan Academy to explain concepts. Videos from TEDED can be used for teacher training. A class YouTube account can be created so that, the students could watch videos related to the concepts learnt in class or re-watch the videos at home whilst doing their homework!
Teacher Twitter Accounts
There is an invisible barrier between a teacher and their students. Great teachers smash through that. All of the teachers in my life who had the biggest impact on my education and life were the ones that I felt didn’t look down on me and were both approachable and understanding. Having each teacher have their own teacher Twitter account would take a big leap into removing some of the bricks in that barrier. They could post lesson recaps, answer homework questions, or best yet, have students tweet what they’ve learned in 140 characters to the teacher account! This will allow the students to feel much more connected to their teacher and remind them that their teacher is actually a person who watches TV, sleeps and shares some similar interests, just like you do! There is something about seeing a teacher outside of school when you’re a kid….
The possibilities are, quite honestly, endless. The basic idea here is to keep your community educated and informed. The more you know and can share with your constituents, the better it is for the entire community. I’d love to hear your stories of how your school or college has been incorporating the use of social media into the curriculum.