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Sunday, April 24, 2016

Google Apps

Google has made more improvements and more strides than any other app that I know in the last few years.  I can recall when Google was nothing more than a search engine!  Google has come so far and I can only imagine the what Google has in store for us.

Four years ago, my high school became a 1:1 environment. each student was provided their own Chromebook.  Four years ago, Google Drive was just getting started. We were all exploring and learning.  Now, using Google Drive has become far more common than using paper in our building. Teachers use Google Classroom as well. I used Google Classroom and enjoyed it before I found that Canvas (another Learning Management System) was better suited to my needs.  I believe we are only just beginning with Google Apps and that in a year or two it will be like we have never seen or anticipated.

I am one who enjoys learning how to use technology. I like to set time aside in the morning on the weekends to play with new apps and tools that I learn about or are recommended to me.  That way, it is considered "fun" and it's not required.  Side note - once something becomes required for work, it's no longer fun for me.  I do hear how many teachers just don't have the time to learn about new technology, and I honestly don't blame them.  I mean, who really has the time between grading papers, prepping lessons, making phone calls, doing administrative work, and who knows what else to learn about something that may or may not be useful in the classroom.  I think this is when we need to collaborate with others.  When we collaborate and share tech tools, we no longer have to go looking, we already have a synopsis of the tool or app and we just need to look into it further if we so desire.  My survey results indicated that all that took the survey would like to collaborate with others outside our district when it comes to learning about tech tools and apps.  If we collaborate with others outside our district, and even outside our state using tools such as Google Apps, the education system might get a lot further along with technology integration and 21st century skills.

Here is the survey to fill out.

The results of the survey as of 8:50pm is:
(sorry, could not get images posted here for some reason. If you click the link, 
you should be able to access the results. If not, please let me know in the comments!)

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Social Networking in Education

 outline the pros and cons associated with allowing social networking in schools. 
My mother told me of a conversation she had with my younger sisters (who happened to be 19, and 15 at the time).  

Mom: "Does anyone have a list of everyone's email?"
19 year old sister: "I have some emails, but not everyone's"
15 year old sister: "Email? Seriously Mom? Who even emails anymore?"
Mom and 19 year old sister: Stares at 15 year old sister in disbelief 

When I was in high school, Email and AOL Instant messenger was considered all the social networking tools we had.  A lot has changed in the last ten years since I graduated high school.  Social networking is a form of communication.  There are so many tools that can be used for social networking today from Facebook to Snapchat to Instagram to Twitter and Vimeo.  Our students are so used to utilizing tools such as these for communication and the latest tools are always ever-changing. To put it plainly, social networking is never going away, it's only going to evolve.  

Once administrators, teachers, and parents understand that social networking is here to stay, only then can we start to look at how it can be embedded in the curriculum.  As teachers, we are always trying to reach our students and get them engaged. In order to do that, we have to incorporate what they use, and that is social networking.  

Social networking has its pros and cons.  

Increase participation:  Students are more likely to participate in activities - especially if they are shy.
Increase collaboration: Using Google Drive to collaborate will help increase collaboration.  All students are involved in the activity instead of only one person doing all the writing
Keeps everyone aware of everything going on. This means due dates, projects, tests, etc  and even parents can be kept up to date. Students can also post questions and have the teacher respond and everyone sees the questions/answers.

Distraction:  This has to be one of the most common issues with social networking in the classroom.  Our students truly don't have the maturity to make sure social network isn't a distraction from the task at hand. 
Cyber-bullying: Since there is a "wall", some students feel they are invincible and will bully others on social networking and can do it anonymously.  Instructors will need to monitor for this consistently.
Posting inappropriate content: This can be especially true for high school students. Just the other day, I had all students work together on a Google Document  and the document was up on the Smartboard, but that didn't prevent some students from posting off-task images of MEMEs or inappropriate photographs.

We need to realize that social networking can be a valuable asset to the classroom, but at the same time understand that we need to teach our students how to use it appropriately and have a way to monitor the use of social network.  More often than not, educators, administrators, district officials do not trust students enough to allow them freedom.  More often than not, students will test the limits.  It is a matter of what we do when those students test the limits.  Do we remove social networking privileges from those students? Why should we penalize an entire student body for a handful of students who want to test the limits?