Week 7: Social media learning resources

The Science Forum

http://www.thescienceforum.com/

This is a general forum that is open to anyone’s input. User are very active and come from all walks of life. Although my students wouldn’t be able to create their own boards, they could create their own thread and get an input of information from all over the world. According to NETS-T 3 (b), it would be a great tool for students to collaborate with one another, as well as provide an opportunity for instructors to assist. This also provides a good chance to exercise NETS-T 4 (c): by participating in the forum discussions, you can promote responsible social interaction in the online environment.

Open WetWare

http://openwetware.org/wiki/Main_Page

I love OpenWetWare, it was a great find when I was an undergraduate Biology student. This is a wiki platform for lab protocols; it is updated with the best and newest lab practices. It boasts an impressive list of links to online tools that are specific to the Biological field (such as calculators and analysis tools). Academic labs and groups are welcome to join in. This website covers many NETS standards. It is a good one for NETS-T 2(a-c) as it encourages the creation and sharing of your own lab work. It is also a good example of NETS-T 5 (a), because Open Wetware acts as a global learning community for exploring different applications of learning.

Open Leaf

http://openleaf.me/

This is a student-only networking resource for educational purposes. It only launched earlier this year. The neat thing about this site  is the way that networks are setup: you can talk to people on your own campus (I am the only student from WOU so far!), people with the same major and minor, or people sharing the same courses. This allows students to fulfill the entirety of NETS-S 2 by giving them a chance to interact and collaborate with students from multiple campuses and disciplines. It also covers NETS-T 1 (c), as this promotes collaborative learning.

Biology Beta

http://biology.stackexchange.com/

Another question and answer site specifically for Biology that is open to everyone. The cool thing about this site is that you can vote on questions and comments depending on their level of contribution to each discussion thread, so the good content ends up at the very top. Plus, discussion posts are easy to find with tags. This resource covers NETS-T 3 (c), since an instructor can answer questions and communicate with various students. That also carries over to NETS-T 5 (a), as it is a global digital resource for both students and teachers.

Reddit – r/science, r/askscience, r/biology, r/microbiology, or make your own subreddit!

http://www.reddit.com/r/science

These are subsections of the popular social site reddit. Similar to the previous resource, users vote on the best content, so that the important comments rise to the top.  The community in the science subreddits is amazing; you can ask any question and an expert is almost guaranteed to give you a thoughtful reply. Plus, students can make their own subreddits! I would love to have this in my classroom. This is a good site for NETS-T 1 (c), since it is another place for students to collaborate ideas. It also covers NETS-T 2 (d), because teachers can used the information amassed there to find better explanations for lesson concepts (I know I have!)

Blogging platforms – WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, etc.

http://wordpress.comhttp://www.blogger.comhttp://www.tumblr.com

There are several online websites that allow you to sign up for a free blog; these are just a few of them. Having your students start a blog advocates creativeness and inventiveness, thus covering NETS-T 1 (a) and NETS-S 1 (b). This also works for NETS-T 1 (c), as it promotes self reflection and student collaboration through post replies.

Collaborize classroom

http://www.collaborizeclassroom.com/

This website can help instructors build an online class or supplement a traditional class. The website provides tools for adding and sharing teaching resources, setting up conversations, and gathering data on the class, which satisfies NETS-T 2 (d). It also covers NETS-T 2 (a) as you can design an entire course here, and NETS-T 5 (b) as it spearheads the usage of an online environment for learning.

Edmodo

http://www.edmodo.com/

This social networking site is the facebook of education. Students get a secure place to collaborate, share content and form a community. Teachers get almost all the functionality of Moodle (posting grades, assignments, quizzes, polls, discussions, creating subgroups, etc.). This is a good site for NETS-T, as educators can collaborate in building knowledge with their students and colleagues. They can also moderate the discussions in Edmodo, which can cover NETS-T 4 (a) and (c) by promoting ethical use of data and proper etiquette in discussions.

Twitter

https://twitter.com/

Twitter is a networking site for sharing content in 140 characters or less. Experimenting with in-class use of twitter has encouraged students that usually would not have joined in to participate, which covers NETS-T 1 (c).  The use of a modern social tool via computer or phone to share and gather student information covers the NETS-T 3(d).

Google +

https://plus.google.com/up/search

Everyone uses google. Our WOU email is based on gmail. In Google +, you can share information and images like in twitter, but you can also join in group voice and video chat, or Google Hangouts for synchronous online sessions! This is a great example of NETS-T 3(c) and 1 (c), as you can set up video hangouts to exchange information. Google+ can be used to coordinate group projects quite effectively, makes it an excellent tool that covers NETS-S 2 (d).

Article 2: Social networking for undergraduate students

Title: Twitter as a teaching practice to enhance active and informal learning in higher education: The case of sustainable tweets

Author: Eva Kassens-Noor

Journal: Active Learning in Higher Education

Publication date: February 28, 2012

A study by sociologists at the University of Alabama examined multitasking with social activities while doing schoolwork, and discovered that using facebook and texting negatively affected student GPAs.  Educators have confiscated cell phones for years and warned students about the dangers of oversharing information in social media sites. Now, as the net generation becomes the teachers and the principals, we are beginning to see a shift in these attitudes.  Proponents of the shift offer a very simple solution: give students something to do that’s class-related on those same platforms, which then become a powerful teaching tool instead of a distraction.

President Obama tweeting

Even the president tweets!

In her study, Kassens-Noor proposes exactly that. She offered groups of students the choice of a) using twitter in an assignment as their only communication mechanism, b) doing one in-class discussion and keeping diaries, or c) writing a 5000 word essay (thankfully, no one chose the last option). The twitter group had strict criteria to meet  to get credit for the assignment (e.g., tweet daily, each answer to a tweet must add on to or refute previous data, must turn in a printout of all tweets, etc.) She found that twitter fostered communication and prolonged engagement in the learning process. The students found and shared more data than the traditional group, but they had slightly less knowledge retension. Another limitation she found was the character limit- which might have constrained critical thinking and self-reflection. Kassens-Noor ‘s study showcases several NETS standards. She inspired student learning and creativity by engaging with her students in a virtual environment, following NETS-T 1 (d).  She also adapted the learning experience to a digital tool, as described in NETS-T 2 (a). Her students demonstrated a good understanding of the technology (NETS-S 6), and used it appropriately for collaboration (NETS-S 2).

I do not have twitter at the moment, but I’m up to trying it out in my classroom. I would use it as an instant feedback tool for student-teacher communication. I think it would foster a feeling of community and openness much faster than class interaction alone. The disadvantages of using twitter really seem to depend on the content. If critical, in-depth thinking is required from the students, twitter is probably an unsuitable tool.

Reference:

Junco, R., Cotten, S. (2012). No A 4 U: The relationship between multitasking and academic performance. Computers & Education, 59(2),  pp. 505-514.

Kassens-Noor, E. (2012). Twitter as a teaching practice to enhance active and informal learning in higher education: The case of sustainable tweets. Active Learning in Higher Education, 13(1), pp. 9-21 doi: 10.1177/1469787411429190

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