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Social Media FOR Schools: Strategy, Platforms, Shareable Content

by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano, cross posted to Langwitches Blog

A previous post was focused on developing shareable content FOR schools via social media, I have taken a step back to look at the bigger picture and the different components schools need to consider and gain fluency in order to best harvest the power of social media for them.

  • awareness of the difference between social media IN schools and FOR schools
  • social media strategy for schools
  • social media platforms and tools: characteristics, capabilities, type of content suited for particular platform, image/video sizes
  • characteristics of shareable content

Download Social Media FOR Schools infographic for free (pdf)

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While social media in schools deals primarily with policies around how to use (or not use) social media in the classroom with students, social media for schools is about storytelling and getting their stakeholders (teachers, students, administrators, parents, community) to spread these stories.

social-media-for-schools_tolisano_1 social-media-for-schools_tolisano_2 social-media-for-schools_tolisano_3 social-media-for-schools_tolisano_4 social-media-for-schools_tolisano_5

Can Social Media Have a Role to Play in Managing a Successful Classroom?

by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano, cross posted to Langwitches Blog
This post is part of C.M Rubin’s monthly series in the Huffington post: The Global Search for Education: Our Top 12 Global Teacher Blogs. This month we are answering the following prompt:
Can Social Media Have a Role to Play in Managing a Successful Classroom?
As in previous posts in the series, I am examining the prompt from a semantic point of view and ask myself immediately: What do we consider ” managing a successful classroom” (and even what does it successful mean)? I also stumbled immediately over the word “CAN” and cringed when I wondered if it could say “Should” or “Must”? Semantics aside and out with an easy and short response: YES, social media can play a role in a successful classroom.
social-mediaMaybe a better question would be: Why is Social Media not playing a larger role in managing successful classrooms?
  • Social Media is one venue (of many) to LEARN… why should it not play a role in our schools?
  • Our students are gravitating (on their own) to Social Media for learning on their own terms outside of schools… why should we not take advantage of that for their learning in schools?
  • Learning for the 22nd century increasingly means being social and connected… why should we not take advantage of the platform to support that kind of social and connected learning ?
  • Social Media adds so many layers of depth to traditional learning strategies to include modern/now literacies… why would we not want to expose, facilitate and support our students in becoming literate in the area of global, network, media, information literacies and digital citizenship?
  • Communication has changed in the world around us. It is more visual, it is more concise, it is shareable, it is exponential in terms of the reach of our communication…how is this reflected in our current curriculum and pedagogies? (to quote Heidi Hayes Jacobs: “What year are we preparing our students for?”)
  • Information has changed our lives. The way we have access to it, the way we filter it, the way we consume it, the way we need to evaluate it, the way we produce it, the way we disseminate it. Social Media plays an integral part in the way information flows in our daily lives… why would we not give the learners in our classroom the opportunity to play, experiment, touch, mold, nurture, take apart, put together, create, disseminate, connect and learn to live and thrive in a world of exponential growth of information? Why are we not preparing our students with the critical skill of searching, not just information, but people trough our human networks.
  • The lines between our lives and “digital lives” are blurring at an accelerating speed, just as the difference between citizenship and “digital citizenship” is becoming hazier… why would we not embed authentic learning opportunities in our classroom to foster positive citizenship (analog and digital)?
  • The world is shrinking. Connecting, communicating and collaborating with people from around the world, due to technology, is sometimes easier than the same task involving people from the same geographic location… how can we not give our students the opportunities to broaden their geographic and cultural horizons by interacting beyond their culture, language and perspective

Take a look at some of my documentation over the past years from the trenches of Social Media in the Classroom:

Digital Storytelling: What it is… And… What it is NOT

by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano
cross posted to the Langwitches Blog

I was lucky to have shared my childhood bedroom for a few years with my grandmother, when she had come to live with us after an illness. At bedtime, she would tell me stories of her parents and three brothers and growing up in East Prussia, fleeing to the West after WW2 and the things that occupied her mind. I was hooked on storytelling. The fascination grew when technology became available and opened up possibilities that were just not possible before. I would give anything to have been able to record my grandmother’s stories and have shared them with my own children years later.

Humans are natural storytellers. It has been THE FORM of passing on knowledge from generation to generation. Storytelling existed in some shape or form in all civilizations across time. In the 21st century, which we have the luck to live in, Digital Storytelling, has opened up new horizons, inconceivable without the use of technology. Storytelling is evolving, as humans are adapting, experimenting and innovating with the use of ever changing technology, the growth of human networks and our ability to imagine new paths.

Maybe as part of a natural process, we tend to stick first to the familiar and “substitute” our task (see Ruben Puentedura’s SAMR model). Substitution is not enough to explore and experience the potential of digital storytelling.

Over the years, I have seen in classrooms and created myself many stories, that are:

  • merely substitutions to what I could/have done/told in analog ways
  • created in isolation, without any connections to a larger concept, idea or community
  • created only to be read by a teacher for a grade, without the possibilities of ever reaching a larger audience for feedback or being able to take its place as a puzzle piece of a larger picture/story

digital-storytelling-is-NOTIt is NOT about the tools… it is about the skills [bctt tweet=”Digital Storytelling is NOT about the Tools, but about the Skills”]
Digital storytelling is not about how to use VoiceThread or iMovie. It is not about the ability to create an MP3 recording and adding it to an XML file, so people can subscribe to our podcast channel. Digital storytelling is about different types of skills we are developing in the process, such as:

  • writing, speaking, communication skills
  • oral fluency
  • information literacy
  • visual literacy
  • media literacy
  • language skills
  • auditory skills
  • drama Skills
  • presentation skills
  • listening skills
  • publishing skills

Examples:

It is NOT about creating media… it is about creating meaning [bctt tweet=”Digital Storytelling is NOT about creating media, but about creating meaning”]
Smartphones and other mobile devices have made the ease of filming, recording or taking images easy, available anytime & anywhere as well as relatively economical compared to earlier times. The amount of media that is being created and uploaded per minute is exponentially growing and mind blowing. Although there is value in contributing your perspective to a larger pool, the emphasis of the stories we share through different media is about creating meaning and about making that meaning visible to others, not about the act of creating the media itself.

Examples:

 

[audio:http://langwitches.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/2nd-Purim.mp3|titles=2nd-Purim]

It is NOT only about telling a story… it is about contributing and collaborating with others [bctt tweet=”Digital Storytelling is NOT only about telling a story, it is about contributing and collaborating with others”]
Digital storytelling is not only about telling the story, but tapping into the potential of being a contributing perspective, example, unique experience to a much larger story. The question grows from “How can I tell my story?” to “How does my story fit in and add value to the stories of others?”. How do we create a much larger story comprised of individual stories?

Example:

    • Sherlock Holmes and the Internet of Things (Thank you to Alan Levine for the project link)
      “Sherlock Holmes & the Internet of Things is an ongoing prototype developed and run by the Columbia University Digital Storytelling Lab that explores new forms and functions of story. Designed to be an open R&D space that experiments with shifts in authorship and ownership of stories, the massive collaboration also uses a detective narrative to examine the policy and ethical issues surrounding the Internet of Things. The goal of Sherlock Holmes & the Internet of Things is to build a massive connected crime scene consisting of smart storytelling objects.”
    • Twitter Storytelling
      Learning how to create “Snippet Stories”,use simultaneous narrators and fractured storyline, co-telling by using #hashtags, sharing with your network and adding value to other people’s learning
      Ron_Gould_on_Twitter____Time_travel_works___the_note_read___However_you_can_only_travel_to_the_past_and_one-way___I_recognized_my_own_handwriting_and_felt_a_chill__
    • Collaborative Storybook: Florida Explorers

It is NOT about telling an isolated story… it is about sharing and connecting experiences and perspectives to a community [bctt tweet=”Digital Storytelling is NOT about telling an isolated story… it is about sharing & connecting experiences & perspectives to a community”]
It is a powerful realization that we all have something valuable to share with others. Digital storytelling takes that isolated story, living in our thoughts, potentially shared with people we know or meet face to face and connects it with a much larger community.

Examples:

  • 7Billion Others
    In 2003, after The Earth seen from the Sky, Yann Arthus-Bertrand, with Sybille d’Orgeval and Baptiste Rouget-Luchaire, launched the 7 billion Others project. 6,000 interviews were filmed in 84 countries by about twenty directors who went in search of the Others. From a Brazilian fisherman to a Chinese shopkeeper, from a German performer to an Afghan farmer, all answered the same questions about their fears, dreams, ordeals, hopes: What have you learnt from your parents? What do you want to pass on to your children? What difficult circumstances have you been through? What does love mean to you?
  • Looking For Stories (Thank you to Alan Levine for the project link)
    “Looking for Stories” is an online documentary web serie where Joan Planas (filmmaker) document stories from people and places around the world using video, photography and articles. We don’t judge the stories. We show them respectfully just as they are, trying to gain a better understanding of the world we live in.
  • Extend Learning

[bctt tweet=”Digital Storytelling is NOT only about the transfer of knowledge… it is about the amplification of our voices”]
While the transfer of knowledge has always been a primary reason for storytelling, the importance of the amplification, the reach of our voices is what makes digital storytelling transformational
Through social media, our potential connections, collaboration and dissemination paths can reach exponential levels. The reach of our voices is about the amount of people our stories are capable of touching. We have moved from an audience of one or a few in a face to face environment to a global audience through synchronous and asynchronous tools.
Even young children (with the help of parents or teachers) can find their voice and be heard! Traditional limitations of age, physical handicaps, financial limitations preventing traveling or a lack of social network connections in the physical world, don’t have to limit someone’s voice any longer.

Examples:

  • Kristallnacht- Night of the Broken Glass: By taking a story written down by my grandfather:
    • translating it into English
    • adding a visual dimension with images
    • an auditory layer by adding my voice and music
    • publishing it to a digital platform and
    • strategically sharing it publicly, I was able to amplify my grandfather’s story/experience and voice past his lifetime.

 

It is NOT about substituting analog stories… it is about transforming stories [bctt tweet=”#DigitalStorytelling is NOT about substituting analog stories… it is about transforming stories “]
Taking an analog story, which is written in text form on a physical piece of paper, told with printed visual material or with a voice to someone sitting in the same room as the storyteller and digitizing it with the help of tech tools does not take advantage of the full potential of digital storytelling. If we are truly looking to transform what stories are and can be in the digital world, we need to look beyond recording a story from a piece of paper or animating our photos from a field trip into a music video. We could dip into the world of transmedia storytelling and look how audience participation, seamless movement between different media can propel a story forward, engage the audience on multiple layers and change the storytelling process altogether.

Examples:

  • Inanimate Alice (Transmedia Storytelling)
    Inanimate Alice is an interactive multimodal fiction, a born-digital novel relating the experiences of Alice and her imaginary digital friend, Brad. The series is written and directed by Kate Pullinger and developed by digital artists Chris Joseph and Andrew Campbell from an original idea by series producer Ian Harper. Episode 1 was released in late 2005. There have been five consecutive episodes created to date with a sixth in production, from a planned story arc embracing a total of 10 episodes spanning Alice’s life from age 8 through to her mid-twenties. The viewer experiences a combination of text, sound and imagery and interacts with the story at key points.

Digital storytelling is NOT just a story told/created/published on a digital platform. What are your experiences and examples in creating new forms of storytelling with digital tools?