Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Social Media in the Classroom

This past week we were lucky enough to have John Finch (MB education) with us, giving a presentation on Social Media in the Classroom. We spent time discussing various social media tools that can be used in the classroom. After learning about how to use these various tools we also talked about the irony in Manitoba school division's policies on using these particular sites in schools. Many school divisions in Manitoba have found that the majority of students misuse sites such as Facebook. In an attempt to control this behaviour, they have blocked social media sites from students entirely. I found it very interesting how certain school divisions allow various types of social media, and other divisions disallow social media such as Facebook, Twitter, youtube etc.
I feel like school divisions should be doing everything they can to try to promote positive, community-oriented relationships with their students. For example, Pembina Trails School division has blocked social media sites such as Twitter, from the students. The irony in it, is that they actually use Twitter to give news about what is happening in their division such as news, and windchill warnings to students and staff!! Soo why are these sites blocked in the schools?
In my opinion, school divisions should not be blocking social media sites but teaching students to use these tools effectively and appropriately in creating a positive online image. As a teacher, I would like to learn what motivates my students to do the things that they do and then build off their interests to help motivate them to use classroom instruction in a constructive manner. Students everywhere seem to be glued to social media sites. Wouldn't it be nice if we could transform the use of social media into something positive and school-related?

I believe that teachers can use social media sites, such as Facebook, to inspire and encourage students to complete assignments or homework. Teachers can use Facebook for a starting point for class activities including: following news feeds, share links, educational games, follow news stories, create class groups, share multimedia and much more. A great site for ideas on integrating the use of Facebook into the classroom is:

Twitter can also be a very effective method of incorporating students into classroom activities. For example, when I was student teaching I encouraged my students to use social networking sites in a positive way. One might assume that there aren't a lot of ways to incorporate Twitter into a subject like Physical Education..but there definitely are! During one of my health units, we were concentrating on fitness and healthy lifestyle practices and I gave them links to a number of different web tools that we used, but also encouraged students to “follow” various types of fitness and health professionals such as Tosca Reno,and Lacey Stone. Twitter can also be used to help parents and other teachers “follow” what students are currently learning about in class. The following is a link to a site that will help to explain some of the other uses Twitter may have in the classroom: http://www.ideastoinspire.co.uk/twitter.htm

When you start to think about all of the different types of online social media, there really are endless possibilities to which one could incorporate these such web tools into the classroom. As teachers, all we have to do is be able to accept the concept and allow ourselves to think creatively enough..and the sky's the limit!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Web-based Learning

This past Thursday Howard Griffith (MB Ed, Web Based Learning) stopped by my Internet for Educators class at Brandon University to offer his knowledge and insight about web-based courses. Unfortunately I was unable to sit in on the presentation, but as far as I know, Griffith's presentation was very interesting and gave valuable insight into the uses of WBC (web-based courses) that are offered through the Manitoba Government website (Manitoba Education) //www.edu.gov.mb.ca/k12/dl/:.

Because I missed this presentation, I have been doing some looking around at both colleagues blogs as well as the Distance Learning resources on the MB government website, as it has proved to provide valuable information on Web-based Courses here in Manitoba.

WBC seem to be a valuable part of education, especially in rural areas that have low enrolment numbers. I believe that every student, no matter how small the town, should have equal opportunity to take necessary courses they may or may not need in order to progress into there desired careers and enter the appropriate post-secondary field of choice. As commented earlier in a colleagues blog, although WBC seems to be a giant step in the right direction, I also believe that WBC seems to be replacing the need for the presence of a teacher (of the human variety).

Web-based Learning offers flexibility for students in rural communities, as well as help to teach students organization skills, and help them become more independent. Web-based learning is a huge step in the right direction, but as a social being, I can’t help but believe that humans are designed to learn from each other. My preference for learning will likely always be from a human rather a computer, as humans often use verbal and visual cues in order to absorb new knowledge and retain information.

In the future, I plan to use a combination of web-based tools and learning as well as face-to-face (F2F) teaching in my classroom. I believe that a mix of the two will promote independent learning and thought as well as challenge student metacognition. I believe that it is important for students (especially high school students) to learn to release responsibility of learning from the teacher and start to take that responsibility on themselves – which is similar to what “the real world” will be like after they graduate from high school. Although a teacher's role in student learning is still necessary, I believe that students can only benefit from the use of web-based learning and is one step closer to helping our students become successful, independent, contributing members of today's society.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Here we go..my first BLOG POST. I was wondering when I would start keeping a blog and I am glad that Internet for Educators class at BU has initiated this.

Today I am talking about a recent presentation by a guest speaker to my Internet for Educators class, named John Evans. I found a number of different aspects of John Evans (Professional Learning Consultant, MB Education)presentation very interesting. Already I can see that I will learn a lot about the use of internet in the classroom.

I learned about various internet tools, but the presentation mostly focused on PLN's (personal learning networks). PLN's seem to be a very useful tool in the world of education as it is a way to network with other teachers around the glooobe! We all know that teaching is about sharing! Although teacher-sharing within the confines of a school can be very helpful, teacher-sharing on the global level is something that is in a whooole new ballpark. With the use of PLN's we can see how other teachers run their classroom and see what they have to share.

What is a PLN? As far as I can see, a PLN is a group of people that will heighten your learning. This group of people will likely be able to answer any questions you may have about teaching. I think teacher use of a PLN is important because it allows individuals to express themselves through the sharing of resources and opinions on teaching and education via online (global). With the use of internet tools such as twitter, blogs, wikispaces and podcasts we can become a network teacher and connect with other teachers, students and parents. I intend on exploring PLN's further as I believe that these networks may definitely contribute to the success of both teachers and students. I feel that PLN's are a huuuge step in the right direction as they not only connect teachers globally but they also work to promote using online tools which have the potential to create a paperless classroom which will in turn create a healthier, greener planet.