First off I would like to thank Jen Deyenberg for taking the time to provide such great insight on the topic of Communication and the Internet.
Jen discussed her own personal blog and how it served as an introduction to her students (Deyenberg, 2013). She made a great point in that our students will Google us. I know that us as university students do it often, but I wasn’t thinking about K-12 students performing a Google search to see what they could find about me. Having an online portfolio will allow students to see the different things they could look forward to in my class. As Jen said, this brings the students into the classroom before class has even begun! Jen has demonstrated how the use of blogging in the classroom can help students to begin to build relationships and connect with their classmates they will be working with throughout the year.
Jen made it very clear that the Internet is a fantastic gateway for conversation outside of the classroom (Deyenberg, 2013). Using blogs in the classroom allows students to reflect on their own learning and collaborate with others, worldwide. When I first started thinking about blogging with my classes in PSIII, my first instinct was to set it up like a discussion forum. I thought about posting research articles biweekly and having the students respond to them in the comments section. When Jen said this is how her class blogging journey began, I just smiled. Once she was comfortable with this, she developed a class blog where students could freely make their own posts, but all on one blog, a progression from the discussion forum, but still not truly authentic. What fascinated me was the fact that the students pushed Jen to giving them their own personal blogs. Students were craving the opportunity to have their own space where their own voice could be heard. I am so appreciative of hearing about Jen’s experiences as I will ensure that each of my students have their own space and own voice this fall in my high school science classes. The fact that the students were asking for their own platform so they could personalize their blogging experience evidently shows the authentic learning experience that student’s desire.
Before using blogs with my students, I will send home a release form to my students parents that both the parents and student will sign. I think it is crucial to students success to have parents onboard with what they are doing at school, this will even allow the parents to comment on their child’s blog as they will be provided with the class website, which will have all students blog addresses listed. When working with the students on their blogs, I will ensure that we work together to discuss “netiquette” and what this will exactly look like for our class blogs. I love the idea of paper blogging to get the students accustomed to writing blogs and commenting on their peer’s blogs. I also have intentions to connect with fellow PSIII Interns classes through the use of blogging! I believe that the use of blogs will be the first step to building connections for my students and I look forward to watching them grow throughout the semester.
Often using technology in the classroom is daunting for teachers and they are unsure of how to discuss topics of “netiquette” or digital citizenship. Alberta Education (2012) has composed a “Digital Citizenship Policy Development Guide” that may be helpful for teachers to read through before engaging students with technology in their classrooms. In addition to the resource compiled by Alberta Education (2012) teachers may find MediaSmarts (n.d.) a great resource to use in the classroom to engage students in activities when teaching about digital citizenship. Teachers could engage students in a jigsaw activity to have students explore the various topics presented on the website discussing digital and media literacy. Finally, the following video may also be helpful as it presents some good ideas and resources for teachers (CyberWise1, 2011).
Jen also discussed the use of Video Conferencing in the classroom (Deyenberg, 2013). In PSI we connected with the Royal Tyrrell Museum and had a great experience. I was fortunate enough to be able to engage my PSI students in a Video Conference (VC), however unfortunately it did not turn out to be the learning experience I had hoped for. This has made me weary of trying a VC again the future. This said I would love to use Skype in the classroom. I see Skype as being a way to use technology that can provide students with a more engaging experience. I found the VC to be predominately one-way delivery with very little interaction with the students. However, with Skype it can be discussed beforehand the goals of the conversation, which is key – it allows for a conversation. I would love for my students to be able to interact with another class, or professional worldwide to hear about their life experiences, work, etc. and be given the opportunity to participate in real dialogue. Students learn when they are able to ask questions and really engage in the experience.
The final Social Media tool discussed was Twitter. I am a huge proponent of Twitter, as many of my classmates have seen and commented on. I think it provides a great medium for students to engage in succinct conversation. This fall I will definitely be using Twitter as a platform to distribute my student’s blogs, and having them on Twitter to distribute their own blog and make their own connections) so that their work is exposed to as many people as possible increasing interaction and collaboration. Jen’s experience with Twitter and the connections she has made is inspiring; it shows us pre-service teachers it is possible, you just have to toss yourself out there!
I found this topic to be truly energizing. I am extremely excited to integrate technology into my classes throughout my teaching career. Technology, when implemented properly, serves as a great medium to increase learning. Jen has demonstrated several was that technology can be effectively used in the classroom to provide our students with an authentic learning experience!
Alberta Education. (2012). Digital Citizenship Policy Development Guide. Retrieved on July 10, 2013 from http://education.alberta.ca/media/6735100/digital%20citizenship%20policy%20development%20guide.pdf
CyberWise1. (2011). What is digital citizenship? Retrieved July 10, 2013 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=oCkTmZ0bF5Q
Deyenberg, J. (2013). Jen Deyenberg interview. Retrieved July 10, 2013 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=8ofSN9bVMmY
Media Smarts. (n.d.). Media smarts: Canada’s centre for digital and media literacy. Retrieved on July 10, 2013 from http://mediasmarts.ca