Technology and Trends

Here are a couple of articles on Social Media in Education with a brief review of a Web 2.0 tool that some educators might find helpful in the classroom.

Article #1: Adult education and the social media revolution
This article is an introduction to some new ideas in the design and delivery of digitally-mediated education (DME). It is also an overview of the compatibility between the capabilities of social media software and the principles of adult education. There is a strong integration of educational theory with social software applications. The authors are strong supporters for the integration of social media within the adult education community. They provide a literature review of the implications of social media and online education with an elaboration on the different terms associated with it. Terms such as digitally mediated learning, blended learning, social software, Personal Learning Environment (PLE) and more are discussed. This article also outlines the primary principles of adult education and demonstrates how well DME aligns with them. It provides insight as to the use of social software and social networks such as Google Docs, VoiceThread and Ning within the online educational platform. Finally, it leaves the reader with a philosophical vision of DME its future impact on society.

Article #2: Social Media in Education: The Power of Facebook
This article is written by Heather Wolpert-Gawron, an award-winning writer and teacher of the year in 2004. In it, Mrs. Gawron sites two examples of how Facebook was used as an educational tool to raise public awareness regarding community issues.
The first example involves a Tucson science teacher named Brian Kievit who asked his class of eighth graders to pick a problem in their local community and solve it. The students picked Buffelgrass, a fast-growing weed that devours the natural habitat, stealing water and sucking the nutrients from the ecosystem. They decided to create a Facebook page devoted to the weed and its elimination. They posted a a rap song on YouTube and using Facebook, the students continued to update the nation on their progress. In the end, this project created a learning community of eager students working together to educate politicians, farmers, and Facebook followers. Using 21st century tools, they have become advocates for their own local community.

The second example involves the use of Facebook to create political change within the educational community.
A teacher named Anthony Cody is using Facebook to be an advocate for the larger educational community. What began as a Facebook discussion page for teachers to write their experiences, concerns, and suggestions regarding Obama’s blueprint for revising the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), soon grew into a large campaign called Teachers’ Letters to Obama. As a result of this movement, a small panel of twelve teachers representing all walks of education life from all over the country, were granted a conference call with Arne Duncan, currently the United States’ Secretary of Education. In preparation for their conference call, the group used Facebook and other Web 2.0 tools such as SurveyMonkey, Ning and Elluminate to create a list of hot topics, issues and innovative solutions to be addressed during the call.

This article shows two great examples of the power of social networking, specifically Facebook, and how it can be used as a tool, not only for personal connection, but as a tool for advocacy at every level in education.

Web 2.0 Tool – Digital Chalk
Digital Chalk is an online training software platform and learning management system (LMS) for creating and offering training courses online. It provides a comprehensive learning platform designed specifically for education. Online features include training staff, selling courses, creating courses and tests, tracking and reporting on students. I have only used the online Testing feature and I found it a little time consuming to set-up, but once done, worked well. One of the great differences between this Web 2.0 tool and others is that you only pay for the software you use, there is no monthly plan. This is great since many of my courses are offered seasonally. I am still exploring all the Digital Chalk features, but the one I have tried, required that I dedicate several days to learning, developing and personalizing the software to my school. I suggest you book adequate time (10-15-hours) to this process. However, what I liked about the company was that they offered a free 30-45 minute live demonstration with a Product Specialist to show you all its uses & benefits. Their customer service was very good. Afterwards, I felt much clearer on how I could use Digital Chalk in my school. I have already set-up two online exams that offer short answer, true & false and multiple choice options. Another feature of Digital Chalk is that its software can be played on IPhones, IPads and Tablets making it easier to reach my students. Although I haven’t explored other similar Web 2.0 tools, I like Digital Chalk and encourage you to take the live demonstration.

References
LeNoue, M., Hall, T., & Eighmy M.A. (2011). Adult education and the social media revolution. Adult Learning, (22) 2, 4-12.
http://www.edutopia.org/social-media-education-examples-facebook
http://www.digitalchalk.com

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