Sunday, February 6, 2011

Let's Talk About It...

Another added benefit to using social media in the classroom setting would be the ability to hold ongoing conversations about material outside of class. We all know that as we process information, new thoughts can come up about a text. This does not always necessarily happen while class is in session. Having a discussion forum online allows students to engage with the curriculum on their own time and at their own pace. This forum also will go a long way to increase the sense of community among class members and the teacher.

Students who may not be comfortable with sharing their ideas in class will also be given the opportunity to voice their opinions in a less threatening environment when they are allowed to post online. As the student becomes comfortable in doing that, they may begin to feel more able to do the same in the classroom as they have developed those communicative relationships with the group outside of class.

One of the drawbacks I have seen with this strategy is that the teacher must spend time teaching students how to engage in meaningful online discussions. Without guidance, students tend to post simple one sentence responses instead of really engaging their peers in deep, analytical conversation.

Because I am not comfortable with using Facebook or Twitter with students, I have utilized this same strategy but on our school web portal. I have started online discussion groups that operate similar to social media, but with a strictly academic focus instead of the social side that Facebook and Twitter offer that is not a necessity for the academic learning students are required to do.

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