Learners and Social Media

This week we have been exploring social media as an educational tool. Traditional education shy’s away from this idea and in many cases shuns it by banning social media site on school grounds. In the age of digital natives however we must question if this is realistic or if educators should in fact research ways that the educational environment might benefit from these social tools.

YouTube is a very useful social media site where you can create play lists and embed videos. It can be limiting because it is a video based social network however when coupled with other social networks the videos hosted on YouTube can be added to sites that are text and image based. The risk of using social media sites like YouTube or the popular face book for social networking when using it for educational purposes is the risk of distraction. Facebook for example is a social site and great if trying to promote ones political beliefs or for social movements and general public awareness campaigns. My audience is children that require less distractions, therefore a structured social site with controlled content is more appropriate. An example of this is Edmodo.com. I have created a site on Edmodo for my current target audience at https://edmodo.com/public/grade-1-3/group_id/23010019 it is of course not yet complete. This site however allows for safe interaction between students. As my daughter and her nephews and niece become older they can communicate via text in live chat real time without the distractions or risk of public display and exposure that can be found on Facebook. A few years ago I created a Facebook account for my daughter who was then 6 so she could use a game on a mobile phone.  Because the phone was only on the game I considered this “safe” I did not notice the small side area where Facebook kept “suggesting” friends based upon my daughter name and assumed age, since you have to be 13 to sign up for Facebook. The computer program assumed her name “Seraphia” meant that she was Spanish and kept suggesting Spanish teens. By the time I noticed she had some disturbing friends and images of teenage Spanish girls scantily dressed and teenage boys posting questionable photos and Spanish comments.  This is not a concern on Edmodo.com and it can be accessed by many different devises as well. Although Blogs have traditionally been text based, as our readings discussed, with new technologies weblogs like WordPress are allowing for embedded videos and media rich images. These are also a safer alternative than most social network sites like Facebook when considering a younger target audience. Facebook can be useful if trying to promote open source sharing of resources however with the homeschooling parent/teacher community.

Another challenge faced is the general classification of digital natives and digital immigrant. Digital natives can be classified as our current generation of school age or even pre-school age children, through college age children according to Marc Prensky. I agree in part. When my oldest children were growing up, now age 20 and 24, I raised them without television. They did not have access to the internet until they were 11 and 14 years old. Since that time though, they have quickly adapted to their peer group. Digital natives according to Pensky, have  “…spent  their  entire  lives  surrounded  by  and  using computers, video games, digital music players, video cams, cell phones, and all the other toys  and  tools  of  the  digital  age” (Pensky, 2001, p.1). My oldest children had a large VHS recorder they were allowed to use at ages 8 and 11, they watched VHS tapes and listened to cassette tapes most of their lives. My youngest daughter however has been exposed to more television, internet and mobile devices from the age of 6 years old. She is closer to the digital native classification. The reason for this has been class division. In the past few years technology hand me downs have become more readily available and the lack of technology in one’s life has become a social stigma most people do not want to face. I equate this to the same shame as living in a home without running water or toilet facilities or even electricity when I was growing up. It was still a common fact in our lives and in the lives of some neighbors but it was one we simply did not discuss in public.

As input devices the disposed of mobile phone we gave our daughter when she was 7 became a favorite hand held device for connecting to YouTube and for Facebook gaming. With downloadable apps she was easily entertained if not for the fact that the cheap phone only allowed for the download of one or two games and without cell phone plans the internet was limited to open Wi-Fi connections. The quick interests though shows how, with the right tool and connect ability, the digital native is very receptive to anytime anywhere learning, mobile connection devices support. My grandchildren however are a very distinct definition of digital natives. At age 3 and 4 my grandsons can use a cell phone, tablets, Wii, PlayStation, Xbox, and computer. By use I mean turn on and navigate to where they want to be to the point that my 3 year old grandson frequently video chats with me on Skype without his mother’s knowledge or permission, even when the App was closed on her device.

When it comes to cognitive apprenticeship this is most useful in my plans when considering a lost tradition in American education…. the one room school house. When we lost the one room school house we lost the benefits of inter-generational cooperation and learning among students of various ages. When older students show by example and partake in the education of younger students, the older students benefit from the transaction as much as the younger students.  Currently the Edmodo site is grades 1 through 3. This may expand in the coming year to pre-kindergarten through grade 4 and continue to evolve as my youngest progresses through her education while still integrating the younger grandchildren over the next 4 years. This being said in 4 years it will be pre-Kindergarten through grade 7. Creating activities and interactions that can be led by or exampled by the older students will be an integral part of the learning environment.  Scaffolding is a great motivational learning technique that I can implement into the learning structure when my daughter is in the same physical environment as her nephews and her niece. By explaining to her the goal that she will help teach her younger peer group, she will gain pride and additional knowledge. This will motivate her when showing her the steps in a specific project, and then reinforce the learning by allowing her to share those steps and being credited for the experience with her younger peers.  Reading is a primary example of this. My daughter is not motivated to read; however her nephews and niece love to be read to.  The activity of reading to them and the positive reinforcement of this social interaction benefit the whole group. To prepare her for success myself as her teacher would help her read a new book and practice all the words in the book until she felt secure to share the book with her fellow peers. Technology can be incorporated into this through online reading either via video creation or live streaming to overcome the barriers of distance or time. Although it was not mentioned before, Skype is a perfect social media venue for this type of learning activity.

One technique that could be explored using Edmodo.com is student question-generation (SQG) discussed in the study “Predictive Effects of the Quality of  Online Peer-Feedback Provided and Received on Primary School Students’ Quality of  Question-Generation”  This technique has “…foundations on the theories of self-regulated learning, constructivism, and self-determination, …” all of which align with my educational goals. Peer assessment not only allows for positive peer feedback and an opportunity for increased motivation to perform, it also deepens the cognitive understanding of goals associated with the projects they and their peers are asked to complete due to the fact that they are evaluating not only their work and interpretation of the goals, but the work and interpretation of their peers.  The science video, http://ed.ted.com/featured/qQzsdX2Y also reinforces the motivational benefits of using social media due to the increased feeling of reward and participation with an audience.

References

Fu-Yun Yu1, f., & Chun-Ping Wu2, c. (2016). Predictive Effects of the Quality of Online Peer-Feedback Provided and Received on Primary School Students’ Quality of Question-Generation. Journal Of Educational Technology & Society, 19(3), 234-246.

 

 

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