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Teaching in a socially networked classroom | Curriculum | eSchoolNews.com

November 7, 2010

Teaching in a socially networked classroom | Curriculum | eSchoolNews.com.

Today’s students are always plugged in and ready to learn—so why not take advantage of this trend inside the classroom?

By William Kist

Brett Moller is head of learning and educational technologies at a private school in Queensland, Australia. He was working as a media teacher at his previous school when he used Facebook in a project with another teacher who taught religion. The religion teacher expressed a desire to use media more in his classroom, so Moller showed him Facebook. For several years, Moller had his students post their final films on Facebook. Brett connected with a group of media professionals who gave his students positive feedback about their films, all of which was done through Facebook.

“Facebook was used to connect the group members with the experts in the given fields, most of whom were professors in areas of ethics or philosophy,” Moller said.

As each group began to blog and produce podcasts about its issue, some local university professors played a crucial role. The professors, who were “keen about the project,” Moller said, began to generate some critical thinking on the site by posting some “devil’s advocate” arguments, trying to suggest, for example, that stopping slavery would mean the end of candy bars as we know them.

When I asked about security issues, Moller responded that the Facebook group was set up in a completely secure way, allowing only the students and the university professors to comment. Moller said he only had one parent complaint about the project, and when he showed her that it’s impossible for an outsider to log into the group, she was satisfied with the project’s safety. He did admit there were some challenges to this project.

“You still have to be a vigilant teacher,” he said. “At the beginning, kids were more interested in checking their own Facebook profiles.”

These are just a few examples of the possibilities and challenges of using social networking for learning. The teachers I’ve interviewed each take a different approach to the tools available to them, but they all believe passionately in what they do and in opening up a new world for themselves and their students.

 

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