I have only Skyped once, and that was for my Grant Writing class with Helen last summer. However, there are so many useful applications for Skype for educators. One obvious application is Skyping with a classroom across the country or even around the globe. Having students talk real-time with other students in Nebraska, Spain, or Egypt will give them an experience that no other instruction can give them. Perhaps it could be about a topic previously studied, or a discussion about current events in that location, but it all would be relevant to instruction.
Also, another way to use Skype in the classroom is to connect with other teachers. Cooperative learning and sharing is a proven teaching method and what better way to enrich our lives and our experiences as teachers! Here is a video about teachers who have used Skype collaboratively. Another source for information on using Skype in the classroom is the Skype in the Classroom page.
There is no doubt that using Facebook has changed all of our lives. The question is how will it change education? I have had students request to be my friend, but have always declined after being warned by other teachers of horror stories about having students as friends. But now that there are security features available (like blocking certain profile information from students), it is almost necessary to have students as friends on FB. Some teachers might say, “Don’t be their friend, be their teacher.” But knowing more about my students is so important when it comes to teaching them! Knowing their likes and interests will help me to focus learning on what they are into, and help them learn.
Another reason to use FB in the classroom is to connect to other teachers and classrooms via groups. Creating group pages will help students learn in real time through instant messaging, homework assignments posted online, homework help and hints, and create collaborative learning. I enjoy our FB group because Helen makes it a forum for new technology available. I am friends with many teachers and I learn so much from just their postings and Likes. FBing over a distance can expose teachers to new ideas and new experiences. It can really enrich teaching experiences and classroom experiences.
As for my personal life, I don’t know what I would do without FB. I follow my children to keep tabs on them and make sure they aren’t posting inappropriately. I keep in touch with my college sorority sisters, and we recently FBed to surprise a fellow sister by getting her a much needed iPad for her budding new business. Here is a picture of a few of us at Homecoming last year.
Within minutes, pictures were posted on my phone of her opening her sisters’ present. It was so gratifying to know that FB was a vehicle for our chapter to band together again just like in college! I was able to attend my undergraduate Homecoming this year, and connected with people via FB on site! I found everyone I wanted to find by checking FB on my phone.
I keep up with my neighbors and my family near and far. It has definitely enriched my life and I would have been one of those people in the auditorium with Mary Schmich raising my hand saying that I LOVE FB!
Social Media Dangers
Having said that, it can be dangerous for teens and even adults. In the last school I worked in, a student was cyberbullying. We had a two hour meeting with the 4th, 5th, and 6th grades about how that is dangerous and how it can lead to damaging results. (And just a side note, all of these students were too young to officially access FB.) This was about the time the teen committed suicide over cyberbullying. Here is a link to the story. It was considered a major issue and a student was suspended because of it. Teachers should take this very seriously. Ms. Buffington stated that parents are the first line of defense against cyberbullying. If teachers hear about cyberbullying at school, they should contact parents ASAP and confront the child responsible. Many times parents are unaware of what kids are doing on FB and teachers find out first. Some teachers may say, “This is an issue that should not be addressed at school, but at home.” But cyberbullying carries over to school in many cases. The student being bullied on FB is usually being bullied at school too, and that makes it a school issue. Our responsibility to students is to keep them safe, and using FB can cause dangers that some teachers never imagined.
I have had a Twitter account for about a year now, and did not utilize it until just recently. After following several people (including my favorite actors, musicians, TV shows, and movies), I have really come to LOVE Twitter! I check my Tweets almost obsessively! I have all of my tweets sent to my phone, so I know exactly what is happening all of the time. Twitter moves so fast! I knew within minutes Saturday night that Whitney Houston had died because of Twitter, and I knew before anyone else. It was amazing. Twitter is going to change our communication because it is so fast paced. Teachers can assign homework, give homework hints, make annoucenements, and so much more using tweets. Students love it becuase of its fast paced nature. They know exactly what is going on in their worlds because of it. I think that Twitter will make information even more available to students as time goes on.
I have been looking for a permanent teaching position for four years now. The jobs just aren’t there like they used to be. I have used a myriad of techniques for acquiring a job, but none have been through social media. I have looked just about everywhere else, and am hoping that social media will land me that dream position.
Why did I not think about social media before?! After having read the links for this blog, I have a good idea of how to go about it. I have always kept my FB page appropriate due to the fact that I know that prospective employers check those sorts of things. Tweeting will be my next avenue of searching, since I am so excited about it. I am already following several job organizations, and am looking for more. I also have had a LinkedIn account for several years and haven’t utilized it to its fullest extent. I intend to link to more people in the education field and post my updated resume. Here is a video about how to use LinkedIn as a resource for finding your dream job.
Overall, social media is a blessing and a burden at the same time. Last semester, I took a full load of classes, worked two jobs, and took care of my family. My social media usage went down drastically, but I regretted not being able to use it more. Sometimes I felt that if I didn’t check my FB, I was missing something, like my purse or my wallet. Then I would realize I had forgotten to check my FB! What a strange feeling that is, being a digital immigrant and having to do something on the computer to feel “complete.” Social media to me is a way to connect with everyone I like, and to keep tabs on everyone in my life that I care about. What a wonderful world we live in today that allows us to do this!
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