Leaving staff development day part of me was really excited as it had brought out so much positivity and enthusiasm. I spent the weekend mulling over these my thoughts as I really wanted to find a way to encourage build upon and promote this positivity. This is what I have come up with:
The college could benefit from developing a pedagogy on how Moodle, the Internet and social media can be used within the new build to develop teaching and learning.
A good focus for this would be how to motivate, engage and enthuse students to ultimately facilitate them becoming more independent learners through the inclusion of Moodle, the Internet and social media.
How a potential pedagogy and exemplar materials can be developed:
- The creation an "e Curriculum" group which meets to drive the development of Moodle. This allows us to harness some of the enthusiasm for this area and people to work in collaboration across curriculum areas rather than isolated departments.
- Regular publishing of an "e newsletter" that showcases best practice and highlights articles of interest from around the web. This could also encourage the development of "PLN"s (Personal Learning Network) amongst staff.
- A collaborative project which encourages all staff to contribute ideas. This could address an area of the curriculum all teachers teach i.e. year 1 tutorials. Teachers could be asked to contribute ideas for tutorial topics they think should be covered, and the scheme of work developed collaboratively online. "Crowd source a topic".
In the long run this path could reap a large variety of rewards:
- Build on good practice from recent staff developments
- Treat all staff as valued 'experts' with opportunities to contribute.
- All staff would become 'collaborators'
- Develop moodle into a learning environment not just a resource deposit.
- Develop a core set of lesson plans for use in tutorials, specifically with a social media/interactive slant which teachers can use, regardless of their knowledge of these areas, eventually multi-skilling staff in e-technology which may raise their confidence to apply this to their own specialisms.
To fully embrace an "e Curriculum" the institution should address our approach to the internet, especially in light of recent research and this particular Ofsted report; 'The safe use of new technologies'
The OfSTED report shows, putting blocks on multiple websites is detrimental to students long-term Internet safety; students increasingly spend their lives with an unblocked Internet in their pockets. They embrace social media as a communication and collaboration tool. The college has recently began to leverage social media's promotional opportunities, yet we see this as an inappropriate medium for students to use within the college?
This makes students view the medium as forbidden, rather than something to be embraced as part of their daily life and to build upon this cultural change. If we embrace this change it gives the college the opportunity to show students how social media can be used safely and responsibly and how they can use these tools within their own development as a learner.
Facebook has a number of educational applications in the classroom, research, sharing course content (none of these mean 'friending' students). Not only this but it is:
- No. 1 photo sharing application on the Web
- More of our students have an account than do not
- We can use it to show the true power of the web and develop student use for the positive rather than negative reasons.
Twitter has even more applications for teachers and can be used to improve sharing and motivation and even has a wide variety of classroom uses. Some of theses uses are:
- Following news
- Sharing information
- Providing a back channel to a lesson
- Broadcasting information
- Sharing objectives
- Live discussions
- Following and taking part in backchannels to events.
In the world today it is not acceptable to block websites to manage classrooms, especially with the age group which we educate; we are trying to prepare students for university and work where no such barriers exist. We should not completely lift all barriers but we need to loosen our grip of the Internet to allow teachers and students to be more spontaneous in what they do and fully exploit some of the powers of social media, allowing us to educate students how to responsibly use social media and protect themselves.
We can not lift barriers without addressing our AUP (Acceptable usage policy) for staff and students that clearly outline:
- Sanctions (possible use of white list)
- Responsibilities '
- What is 'Inappropriate
Becta in conjunction with many other agencies (including Ofsted) have guidance we could access to help us do this.
I feel if we can teach students to use technology to create, innovate, research, communicate, collaborate and learn we are preparing them for their 21st century future as none of us know what they will face.