I recently carried out a survey of my Year 8 students (2 classes) to ask them about social media and devices they use, and access online at school and at home. Most students made use of Schoology which is our school’s main student portal. Some mentioned Google classroom and the use of one note. Since the school denies access to Facebook, Twitter and most other social media sites, the students told me they were still able to find ways to access these sites at school . The home situation is far different from school, although this varies from student to student, with internet access being monitored, or no access at all for a few. The students have access to multiple devices at home, (most use a tablet, Ipad or phone at school) as well as access to social media sites like Facebook, Skype, Instagram and Snapchat, for example. Students also used a large number of Apps and most of the boys used X-box and other gaming devices.
Since being part of mind lab I have discovered life online and included online tools as part of my students learning (and my own). This part has been fun but a real learning curve for me. I am mindful that some students don’t have internet access at home so I provide them with devices to use in the classroom. We have made use of Aurasma – so students can follow up on instructions of how to do things instead of waiting for me, or they can share ‘how to’ with their peers. Schoology is ok, but is more like an electronic workbook where instructions are provided, resources, and assignments set up and submitted. Students can view a myriad of resources which have been set up by the subject teacher using this portal or others. Students enjoy Seesaw, since it is a student driven app, where I am able to sketch and draw examples for them and they can modify or change templates. Instructions are given in my voice (as well as written), so they can review what they have to do online, or whenever they need to reflect. Previous to Mindlab, when the Ipad was fairly new, my classes did access padlet which was something new at the time. Students enjoy being hands on, working collaboratively in small groups, sharing ideas and making use of online resources.
I have set up a Twitter account with my year 12 and 13 students, which is used for sharing with other schools in Auckland and overseas. The students are able to see what is happening in other places, although most of the senior students have independent access to resources, which is different from the access my year 8 students would have.
In my learning environment I feel that one of the main challenges is that of student privacy and student safety. While we are unable to post to social media sites since access is denied, it may appear that no problems occur, however, students carry their own data on devices and while it is our school policy that devices are not used within certain hours, it is not always easy to monitor. ‘Social media offers spaces for innovative teaching in classrooms. However they also pose a number of ethical dilemmas for teachers’ (Henderson et al 2014).
In terms of my own Professional development, since jumping on board with Mindlab, and joining along with my students, the learning has been incredible. There is simply a lot of stuff online. I feel more confident with using Twitter, Facebook groups and even blogging. While I am still learning myself, being a part of the VLN, ELN, PBL, N4L Pond groups provides different elements of knowledge which have helped me in my professional learning so that I can learn, share and collaborate with other teachers and my students. We also use Schoology for professional development and professional learning – a mahi ngatahi group for teachers within our working environment which enables robust discussions to be had, resources to be shared and thinking to be put into practice.
Education Council New Zealand (n.d.) Guidelines on Ethical Use of Social Media. Retrieved from https://teachersandsocialmedia.co.nz/guidelines-ethical-use-social-media
Henderson, M., Auld, G., & Johnson, N. F. (2014). Ethics of Teaching with Social Media. Paper presented at the Australian Computers in Education Conference 2014, Adelaide, SA. Retrieved from http://acec2014.acce.edu.au/sites/2014/files/attachments/HendersonAuldJohnson_EthicalDilemmas_ACEC_2014_0.pdf
Melhuish, K.(2013). Online social networking and its impact on New Zealand educators’ professional learning. Master Thesis. The University of Waikato. Retrieved on 05 May, 2015 from http://researchcommons.waikato.ac.nz/bitstream/han.