The social media scene is “where it’s at” in K–12 education these days. It’s commanding the attention of technology-minded educators and school administrators of all stripes as they grapple to take advantage of social media tools and to understand and mitigate the fears and safety issues that may arise when kids and teachers use these tools. This is our main focus for the May/June 2011 issue of Internet@Schools.
In the cover feature, teacher, tech coach, and author Tim Childers builds the case both for using social networking tools and for “repositioning” them—or at least adjusting the education community’s perception of them. In Childers’ district, “There are teachers and administrators who have embraced [social networking] whole cloth, others who are hesitantly dipping a toe in the water … and those who look at you quizzically when you even say the words ‘social networking.’” He recounts how they addressed issues such as The Filter Factor and The Fear Factor with some degree of success, in part by shifting the conversation to focus on academic networking. Check out From Social Networking to Academic Networking … A Paradigm Shift.
As usual, we present a wide-ranging Tools for Learning feature, in this case titled, We’re Talking Social Media in Education. Victor Rivero comes at the subject from several angles this time. He starts with definitions, facts, and figures around the social media, to jump-start the conversation and focus in on its educational value. (“It might very well be a huge classroom distraction, but …”) There’s an extensive sampling of educators’ opinions on the topic, in the form of “quotable quotes” compiled via LinkedIn. And, of course, he then serves up a long list of social … no, let’s call them academic … media tools and resources for you to explore.
And we have a collection of reviews on … what else … even more social and academic networking products and services. Charlie Doe assesses Edublogs and Kidblog, while Sally Finley examines ePals LearningSpace.
I’d also like to point you to Johanna Riddle’s Tech Effect column this month, Playing Around With Technology. It’s another example of Johanna’s refreshing case studies of school sites where technology, creativity, and measurable learning always seem to intermix. You’ll love (I think) the student-created digital art examples provided. You’ll be moved by her assertion—backed by research—that “students pave the way to better teaching.” And if you’re like me, you’ll have fun exploring a social networking site she casually mentions: Deviant Art, the world’s largest online community of artists and art lovers.
David Hoffman , editor