Challenges in Educational Uses of Social Software

Dan Bradley

EDU 624: Social, Legal and Ethical Issues in Educational Technology

Dr. Stoloff

Review of: Teaching Crowds: Learning and Social Media

Chapter 9: Issues and Challenges in Educational Uses of Social Software

How might you plan to promote and model digital etiquette and responsible social interactions related to the use of technology and information in your classroom?

As technology becomes more accessible to students within classroom settings, new skills must be taught to students to help bring awareness to the idea of having responsible interactions with peers and strangers alike. Only a decade or two ago within a typical educational, social and academic behaviors that were being taught focused around person-to-person interactions, with the possibility of the beginning to teach email etiquette. But, as technology and its use within education has evolved and grown to encompass large tracts of students’ social and academic lives, it is becoming more and more imperative to make sure that teachers are properly preparing students to behave within online forums.

 Education: Tennessee teacher Julie Anne Culp posted this note on her Facebook page on November 18 to teach her students about internet safety. It has received more than 392,000 likes and been shared more than 30,400 times

A common technique that has been used and shared millions of times throughout social media, namely Facebook™, has been an example of a teacher holding a sign to be shared around the world, like pictured below. This example has been used numerous times to help illustrate internet safety and being extremely cognizant of what you share online, as it has the capability of traveling to millions of people around the world. Though this may not be a direct example of responsible interactions between two or more students within a blog-chain for instance, I believe showing the power the internet holds in this sense, is very important for students to see and realize. But, digital etiquette goes beyond sharing personal information; conducting appropriate and respectful dialogue between students is becoming an increasingly necessary skill as well.

All of my current students currently have 1:1 personal Chromebook access, so teaching these skills is extremely important, as students will be using their technology to collaborate, debate, and discuss with each other throughout the school year on a nearly daily basis. I have begun the school year by taking time to breakdown academic communication behaviors, focusing on speaking, listening, and feedback skills, and have had students being an online journal that will be added to at least once a week. Though the beginning of the year has been a focus on interpersonal communication behaviors, we will soon also begin to highlight and practice technological communication behaviors. I have begun to model positive communication by responding to each journal, and illustrating how to conduct communication over a tech-based source. Students will have the capabilities to work on shared documents, and projects throughout the year, and will have to become proficient in being able to communicate effectively and positively with each other in order to accomplish their tasks. It is important for students to understand and practice, that academic conversations over the internet are not always the same as more personal and social conversations they may have with one another using a different source. The idea of “context ambiguity” (p.278), as mentioned by Dron & Anderson, is extremely important in this sense. Making sure to be aware of the context and place you are engaging in a conversation in as a student makes a significant impact on how to create a positive dialogue with others. Again, holding an academic discussion verses a more informal social discussion are two separate skills, but if they begin to mix, misunderstandings can arise. The use of technology within the classroom, should always be used as an aide to a students’ education, and that the discussion and etiquette between students online should be positive and respectful to all beliefs and backgrounds.

How might you plan to address the diverse needs of all learners by using learner-centered strategies providing equitable access to appropriate digital tools and resources?

One of the great aspects of the use of technology within the classroom, is the increased availability of resources to aide in the development of all students. More classroom work is now able to be differentiated for each student better than what was traditionally possible before the inclusion of a more tech-based education. Especially with EL students in mind for example, the availability to modify their work through translation based web-sources can allow a student to learn grade appropriate, or upper-level content, in his or her native language as opposed to a lower content ability that would consistently match their English reading ability. Technological resources also significantly increase upward modifications for students who need to be challenged with more difficult work as well.

I think a great website to help illustrate the ability to address a diverse range of needs of students, is Students are able to search through many different broad topics, and even search for more specific focuses, and read an article of their choice. Within the article page, students have the ability to alter the Lexile level, and sometimes even language, in order to best match their ability. Students can also take notes and utilize close reading strategies through text-highlight ability, all accessible on the website, and even challenge themselves by testing their comprehension of the article through a reading quiz.

The truly fantastic aspect of being at a 1:1 school, is that students are all able to have access to technological resources regardless of economic standing at home. With all students having the same technological opportunity, I am now able to better personalize every student’s learning, as worksheets through an app such as Google Docs can be modified and differentiated dozens of times to best fit each and every student’s needs.