Below is an article written for the Legacy Magazine of the Department of Education at the University of Lethbridge during my final Internship during the Fall of 2013, you can also view the article here.
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
When Justin Bechthold enrolled in his after degree B.Ed. program at the University of Lethbridge Faculty of Education in the fall of 2012, Twitter wasn’t even on his radar, personally or professionally. Since then, it has become a hub for his professional activities.
It began with instructor, Kurtis Hewson laying a strong foundation for social media in his Curriculum and Instruction, and Assessment classes. “Kurtis modeled the use of Twitter as a formative assessment tool. I didn’t initially see the opportunities for its use in education,” says Bechthold.
But by his PSIII semester, Bechthold was well into the swing of things, asking students to demonstrate their understanding of the curriculum through a platform of their choice; Twitter, Instagram and even Vine, a mobile service that lets you capture and share short looping videos. “Kids love being on their mobile phones, so why not embrace it?”
To be clear, it’s not simply the novelty of integrating technology into education that appeals to Hewson and Bechthold, but rather the potential for unlimited learning opportunities that social media presents to everyone. Take pre-service teachers, for instance. Traditionally, they’ve been reliant on local professionals, but this is no longer the case.
Earlier this year, Hewson co-organized a “consortium” of pre-service and experienced teachers to participate in weekly online discussions over a Twitter feed. In addition to being a regular participant, Bechthold has had the opportunity to moderate two of these “chats.”
“The conversation gets started on Twitter and then when there’s more details to cover, it quickly moves to another platform, typically email,” he says. “The technology provides a nice flow for real engagement,” Bechthold explains. “Using social media as an expression of creativity and engagement, as an extention of learning is something that pre-service teachers can benefit from. Having it modeled to us is the best way to step forward and participate.”