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.

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What will be the most significant classroom innovation in the next 10 years?

by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano, Globally Connected Learning Consultant
cross posted to the Langwitches Blog

What a catching blog post title. It might have caught your attention because of the keywords “the most significant” and “innovations” and a promise of a prediction to guide you into the future. Taking into consideration that devices, such as the iPhone, which changed an entire culture of anytime and anywhere connectedness, information flow, participation, creators, producers and learners, did not exist 10 years ago, I am venturing out to say that there is no accurate answer for what will be “significant” 10 years from today. I will disappoint you if you were looking for short, easy to follow instructions. Especially in education, planning for a “moving target” leaves us anxious, eager and willing to give our ear to anyone who promises us guidelines for that future we so desperately are looking for.

Taking a look at the definition of innovation in Wikipedia, I can only give you my best educated guess when we are looking for “a new idea, device or process” that “can be viewed as the application of better solutions” that meets “new requirements, inarticulated needs, or existing market needs.”

innovationMy vote for the most significant classroom innovation is the process of being able to learn how to learn. That process falls under the category of “existing market needs”, with a steadily increasing rate of importance in the years to come. This would be my best guess when working with so many unknown variables which are undoubtedly awaiting us. Possessing the ability of learning how to learn, will give us as teachers and our students the ability to grow in a world of continuously and exponentially increasing rate of change.

Learning how to learn embeds the notion of self-directeness and self-motivation as a learner. The view of seeing oneself as a life-long learner with a growth mindset, defined by Carol Dweck as “ intelligence that can be developed, which leads to a desire to learn” is inherent to the process of learning how to learn.

We are looking at becoming fluent in a work- and learnflow as a process to be able to flourish in a world with ever changing tools, platforms, networks and external innovations that will have a significant impact in the world of education.

  • Learning how to learn will include knowing how to find filter, find, evaluate, categorize, store, remix and create information… no matter how much information is available or in what format, media or language it is available.
  • Learning how to learn will mean how to work and learn with (not just about) people at a global scale… no matter how far the geographic distance, time zones, cultural and language differences.
  • Learning how to learn will mean to be able to understand the differences and purpose of a variety of platforms and being able to harness the power of these networks… no matter the type of existing platforms, the need to migrate to new platforms or the necessity of fluently being able to switch between platforms for specific purposes.
  • Learning how to learn will mean to adapt to new forms of media… no matter if this means letting go of nostalgic attachments or customary workflows of routine ways of reading, writing and communicating.

Although we don’t know exactly how the world will look like in 10 years, what “new requirements, inarticulated needs, or existing market needs” it will have, we do know that it will be different than our world today. The only way to prepare for that world is to possess the ability to adapt to change, have a growth mindset and be prepared to continue learning.

Minecraft: Research Product

Earlier this week, a member of my digital network, Brent Coley ( @brentcoley ), shared the following tweet where a student created a Minecraft video that represented a virtual tour of Mission San Diego de Alcala (Wikipedia link):

 

 

Link to video outside of tweet.

 

I was absolutely blown away by what this 4th grader created and I thought it was a good representation of what a research project product that wasn’t a paper looked like.  I’ve previously blogged about Infographics as a research product and I advocate vociferously for digital product replacement thinking when I work with teachers. If the outcome is building knowledge and demonstrating that students can both investigate a topic and learn from it, whoever said that research had to result in a paper?

 

The research standards in the Common Core are usually just the three writing standards associated with Research to Build and Present Knowledge. However, I always lump writing standard six in there as well, as it deals with how writing can be presented in a digital format/presentation. I want to share the fourth-grade-specific Common Core writing standards here, standard seven from the Research Standards, and standard six from the Production and Distribution of Writing section:

 

W.4.7. Conduct short research projects that build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic.

 

W.4.6. With some guidance and support from adults, use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others; demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to type a minimum of one page in a single sitting.

 

As you read through the rest of this blog post (and hopefully after you’ve viewed the video), read with these standards as lenses. Ask yourself, “did this student meet the standard?” “Did this student provide evidence of what they know and are able to do within the confines of this standard?”

 

In my book, Digital Learning Strategies: How Do I Assign and Assess 21st Century Work?, I describe several questions to ask when assigning digital student work:

  1. What is the learning objective?
  2. Is the instructional task worthy of a digital upgrade? Will using digital tools enhance the learning? If so, in what ways?
  3. Will the digital tools increase or decrease the cognitive rigor of the task? What additional skills might have to be considered in order to engage this upgrade?
  4. Does the digital upgrade involve collaboration, communication, creative problem solving, and/or creative thinking?
  5. Are sufficient digital tools available and do all students have access to them?
  6. Are the students involved in some of the decision-making? How much are the students contributing to the design, process, or product?

 

I wanted to blog about this student’s Minecraft project through the lens of these six considerations, annotating what this fourth grader was able to accomplish.

 

 

  • What is the learning objective?

 

      • The learning objective here was to learn about the Mission San Diego de Alcala. This student had to learn the layout, information about the different areas, and be able to speculate about the people that lived there.
      • This student also had to learn specific information about the founder of the Mission, Father Junipero Serra, as he both introduces the video and then explains several of the artifacts contained within the video.

 

  • Is the instructional task worthy of a digital upgrade? Will using digital tools enhance the learning? If so, in what ways?

 

      • In this case, I believe the learning was enhanced exponentially. Besides the research to build knowledge about the mission, this student had to do a brick by brick recreation to create the video.
      • In the comments section of the video, the student’s father includes information about the student having to develop his own system for creating the texture of the tiles on the roof.
      • This obviously had to be tightly scripted for both production and the narration, so the writing definitely occurred at some point. Everything in the video though is beyond the writing…beyond the end point of the traditional research product.
      • In terms of worth? You tell me. Was this digital upgrade a worthy replacement?

 

  • Will the digital tools increase or decrease the cognitive rigor of the task?

 

      • The traditional version of this research would have resulted in a paper, most likely, perhaps a diorama or detailed schematic drawing. In this case, using Minecraft, the detail involved demanded a time-intensive process that resulted in a very professional product. The decisions this student made to develop the detailed depiction all involved discernment and critical thinking in some way. Big time rigor here.
      • Additionally, the student used multiple digital tools to get to the final product: Minecraft to create the representation, an audio tool to record the narration, and a screen-capturing tool to record the video. All of these individually would raise the thinking level of the task because they all represent learning that is above and beyond the expectation of the standard and the traditional version of the research. Together, they represent problem solving nirvana.
    • Does the digital upgrade involve collaboration, communication, creative problem solving, and/or creative thinking?
      • I get the sense from the comments on the Youtube page that the student engaged in some conversation with his dad to create the video, though I don’t see specific evidence of collaboration or communication.
      • As for creative problem solving, the student’s father references an issue with the roof tiles that the student had to discover a solution too, but the entire video also represents a finished product that is the end product of trial and error thinking. If you’ve ever been in Minecraft, you know that you have to try stuff out and see if it works. Once you discover what works, you build, literally, on it.
      • In terms of creative thinking, there’s so much here. From decisions about the design and interactive elements, to details about Father Serra’s artifacts, to the layout and navigation of the Mission for the viewer of the video, this student had a lot on his plate to think about. The finished product demonstrates extremely high levels of thinking and decision making.

 

  • Are sufficient digital tools available and do all students have access to them?

 

    • This I don’t know. I’m not privy to the project’s parameters or to the population of students that were assigned this project and their access to / equity within digital tools or connected access points.
    • I do know that this student seems to be fairly comfortable creating within the digital realm, which suggests an early affinity / comfort with digital tools at a young age that allows him to demonstrate learning at this level even in the fourth grade.
    • Based on the comments from dad, I’m speculating that this student has no issues with computer / internet access and that it is just a part of his world.
  • Are the students involved in some of the decision-making? How much are the students contributing to the design, process, or product?
    • Again, since I don’t know anything about what was assigned, I don’t know how much the students contributed to the design of the project.
    • Even if the design of the Mission and its subsequent creation within the Minecraft system was with the help of his father, note that the standard (#6) advocates for “guidance and support from adults.”

 

In the book, I also recommend some questions to ask when assessing student work, two of which revolve around how students are reflecting on what they are creating and how they are attributing their source material, both of which are important components of research.

 

In this case, there is little evidence of either. I was hoping to learn from where the student found his information. (And I was secretly hoping to discover that he used multiple verified sources.) I was also hoping to learn why he chose to use Minecraft to create his product versus other available web tools. Perhaps eventually this could be added to the Youtube comments. If I were the teacher, I might ask for this as a separate component of the task.

 

All in all, though, I must say, that this effort is serendipitous. I’m struck by both the level of quality and the apparent level of learning of this student. I hope that those reading this are understanding that this is what a 21st Century demonstration of learning looks like. This is what is possible when we relinquish the limits of traditional practice. This is what is possible when we begin orbiting the boxes that we’ve asked students to think outside of for decades. This is 21st Century Learning.

 

Kudos to this kid and his dad. What they created was future-forward and just plain awesome. I subscribed to their Youtube channel. I can’t wait to see what they will do next!

Follow Mike On Twitter: @fisher1000

Mike’s Website: Digigogy.com

Digital Learning Strategies: How Do I Assign and Assess 21st Century Work?

A Reflection on TEDTalk21: Creating a dynamic and joyful environment

cross-posted from Just Start for Kids and Schools

Golden light of evening over Torrey PinesGuest Post By: Craig Gastauer

Natural learning experiences are generated by observation and questioning.  As individuals share their different perspectives, each of us begin to make meaning of these experiences and deepen our understanding of the world.

Hiking on the cliffs above the the Pacific Ocean with my nine year old son creates for us a safe space to explore the world.  Questions abound as we come across animals, plants, rock strata, and even the wonderful variety of people we encounter.  And as a science teacher I may have an idea of much of what we come across, I hear from the nine year old perspective new questions and thoughts that may have never occurred to me.  There are no texts or assignments forcing students down a path that the teacher wants the student to focus.  Instead, the child’s questioning and wonderment lead the discussions and the ideas to explore.  The generated excitement even invites those people passing by to add their understanding and questions.  Learning opened through the initial questions and new insight allowed us to look at the experience in new ways:

  • Why are all the organisms under plants or why are the animals a certain color?
  • What eats what?
  • Why there are more insects than lizards?
  • Why do the birds circle above?
  • Why?  Why?  Why?

The TEDTalk21 invitation to remember a safe learning space reminded me of how a simple hike led to an natural and engaging learning experience in which my 9 year old has developed a new understanding of the world in which he lives.  But it has also opened a new learning experience for myself.  Seeing the child’s excitement and the additional different perspectives brought into the experience has led me to wonder:

  • How can this excitement and natural engagement become the learning norm in my classroom?
  • How can these natural interactions be replicated to invite in others through new formats using digital literacy so that everyone can impact their own creative learning process?

Actively participating with the Lead21 team in learning how to actively engage learning through the use of technology to replicate this system has opened a new world.

 Why are so many of us using technology as a replacement of the ribbon based typewriter instead of the social environment that could help learning flourish?  

Setting up something as simple as a student blog opens the door to the natural learning cycle.  Asking students to publish their learning, followed by others positively promoting different perspectives or inquiries, provides students an opportunity to re-engage with all these ideas to deepen their understanding.  The static learning experience transforms into a dynamic space that strengthens them as resilient learners.

For teachers, this promotes deeper learning of the content, but also of three essential components to becoming engaged, life-long learners.  We can help them learn to self-regulate, self-motivate and self-evaluate their learning process and products. As teachers, we need to:

  • Promote and actively engage students in asking where they are in their learning process
  • Ask what strategies they have employed and how they have worked
  • Ask what their engagement is trying to achieve
  • Ask what their next steps need to be in order achieve their goal

We can never create a destination to where every student wants to go to, but our students can. By opening up the learning experience to a more natural, collaborative, self directed way, students can take charge of and build their own meaningful learning process.

Reflection question (would love to see your comments below):

How do you set up the use of technology to incorporate the natural learning cycle in order to help students deepen meaning making and become more independent learners?

Craig is a high school biology teacher in Northern San Diego County.

First Experiences with Google Glass at School

by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano

Cross posted to Langwitches Blog

selfie

In December, I received a Google Invite to become a Google Glass Explorer. I was not given much time to accept the hefty price tag or let the Google invite expire. In the name of education and my passion for thinking and exploring new ways to transform teaching and learning, I accepted…. (still not sure how I feel about …)

On Monday, I took my Google Glass for the first time to school. We had a pre-service workshop planned (we just returned to school after the summer break here in the Southern Hemisphere) and I wanted to test if I could use the device to document the workshop to

  • capture moments of discussion
  • record what the presenters shared
  • share what participants contributed to the conversation

Google Glass- Reflection Workshop from langwitches on Vimeo.

Here are a few thoughts after the first week:

  • I am overwhelmed ( …too much stimuli)
  • Not as intuitive as I thought it would be…  (I feel like a student driver having to pause, before I step on the clutch>shift into gear>push the gas pedal> slowly let go of the clutch… while at the same time look in all the mirrors and forward to steer where I need to go)
  • My fluency is missing. (…yes… that one… the one that I am so used to having with my smartphone, iPad and laptop…so used to it in fact that I usually don’t think about it anymore… I feel illiterate…)
  • Tickling behind the ear from speaker that vibrates the bone behind my ear… (…It is a weird feeling…)
  • battery life…(…used to battery lasting all day+ with my other devices…) need to build in breaks during the day to recharge..
  • Unit gets hot when using too much (especially recording video and googling)
  • Long, curly and unruly hair that constantly tangles in front of the camera is a problem in terms of recording,  tapping and swiping. (… not cutting my hair or wearing a pony tail is not an option…)
  • I was not prepared for the attention and the varied reactions the device evoked in people. (… I am admitting that the varied emotions from colleagues and students have hit me almost like a brick… from super excited to curious, not interested to (not openly) negative and almost hostile emotions. Again, NOT all of the reactions were verbal or bodily clues, but more (strong) waves of emotions directed in my direction… Never quite experienced or was aware of something similar…
  • Feeling on the spot when recording… self conscious… what do I say? How does my voice sound?
  • I am definitely in the Substitution stage, when looking at using Google Glass through the lens of the SAMR model.

Many colleagues wanted to see what I was seeing and were eager to try the Google Glass on. The easiest instruction, I was able to give, as I could not see what they were seeing on the screen was:

  • When you see the time… say “OK Glass”, then “take a picture”.
  • Swipe down… then tap on Glass again and swipe forward to see the last images taken.

So far, I was not able to screencast from Google Glass to my iPhone via wifi (it continuous to show me the black screen with the instructions, even though glass and iPhone are on the same network. It is simply too much multitasking to handle Glass, turn off wifi, then turn on bluetooth, then connect iPhone and Glass to be able to demonstrate screencast on the spot…)

It was interesting (also for me) to later see the images the testers had taken..

tall-perspective

(tall perspective… this is how I look to a tall person…I was not aware that the ceiling could look so threatening… 🙂

guest-shot

(test shot from someone that is more of my height)

Google Glass test

Curious colleagues having a go at wearing Google Glass.

photo 3

photo 4

Here is a selfie to show how I am managing using my reading glasses at the same time as Google Glass. Not the best solution, but it seems to work for now….

first-looks

google-glass-paparazzi

Students were lining up after class asking to wear Google Glass in order to give it a try. Most of them had heard of Google Glass. It spread like wild fire throughout our Middle School.  There were a lot of  “cool” and “wow”. It wasn’t long before Paparazzi also arrived wanting to take a picture of Google Glass as evidence of having seen one.

Do you remember the first email you sent? The first email you received? Remember having to dial in to check your email and not being able to use the phone line while you were online?

vignette

Above is a vignette image taken with Google Glass. I was sitting with a new students, helping  set up her school laptop. I received a vibration sound behind my ear and looked up from the computer screen at the Glass screen to see that my mother had emailed me an article from the La Nación (Argentinean Newspaper) about how wearing Google Glass could get me into legal problems. The irony of the moment was not lost on me. 🙂

google-explorer

I am not the only explorer at our school. A High School student, Bruno, is also a committed user. I felt a sort of camaraderie, as both of us are on the forefront by experimenting and walking a fine line.  What is acceptable in a school environment regarding wearable technology and what is not? Bruno has been wearing Glass routinely during the day, showing a much higher fluency and adaptation. He inspired me to make sure that I was only going to find out how Glass was going to transform my work, if I wore it consistently. It reminded me of ” The best camera you will ever have, is the one that you have with you” that pushed my iPhone into the number one position to be followed by my SLR camera.

While my focus of using Google Glass to “explore new worlds” in terms of teaching and learning, Bruno is focused of finding innovative ways to transform and “make his life easier”.  His point of view is that of an app developer.

Just as I experienced a myriad of reactions when wearing Glass, a student wearing Google Glass, a technology that all of us (administrators, teachers and peers) are not familiar with, inevitably will bring up anxieties, disruption and fear.

Bruno is dealing with setting the example at our school. What will this mean when more and more students start having these powerful devices and will  that mean in terms of teacher/student relationship, student learning, curriculum, assessment practices, what do we consider cheating, how do we deal with multitasking, distractions, inappropriate use of the technology, etc.?

I believe Bruno is aware that he is setting the example and is taking on the responsibility.  Our school administrators and teachers are recognizing the need to start the conversation now! WHAT DOES THIS TECHNOLOGY MEAN IN OUR EDUCATIONAL SPACES? They are also recognizing that Bruno is an integral part of that conversation to craft a policy that does not BAN and BLOCK, but encourages exploration and innovation.

I am looking forward to being part of that conversation…

School policy regarding wearable technology were not the only discussion that were sparked by the simple appearance of Google Glass on campus. I have had super interesting conversation about

  • the meaning of wearable technology and what does that mean for our future?
  • we wondered if in 10 years, we will laugh about how “silly” we/I looked with such a “big” device on our/my head (same type of feeling when we think of the size of our first cell phones or the big air conditioned rooms that held a computer…)
  • Image in Public Domain

    Image in Public Domain

  • Freely giving away our private data (GPS location? What do we see at the moment? What words are we googling? etc.) I am not saying that we are not already doing this with other devices, but wearable devices have the purpose of making it even more “natural” and instantaneous to do all these tasks and transmitting and sending them. (… I have to admit I am increasingly more uncomfortable when Google ( or other companies), by default, takes the choice of NOT wanting to share or collect data away from me…
  • What about Google Glass etiquette? When is it appropriate? When is it inappropriate? What about in an educational environment? What about in public spaces? (… I am very conscious of etiquette… I know I am walking a fine line as soon as I wear Google Glass… I want to be able to gain the trust of colleagues and students… that I will not take images nor film without making sure that they are aware of the device being on and a “no questions asked” policy if someone feels uncomfortable…)
  • How can we use such a “disruptive” device to transform (re-define) what we teach and learn?

I was able to take Google glass into a Science classroom (with permission from the teacher ,of course) and take photos and videos of the students conducting a lab. Google Glass is such a novelty though that students were interested in Glass rather than their lab… most of them begging to wear them…I was very conscious of NOT wanting to disrupt the class (…. will need to make sure that students have a chance to look at them, ask questions and wear them… before I go into the next classroom)

science

Google Glass- Science from langwitches on Vimeo.

I also wanted to test out wearing Google Glass while driving… yes,  I can hear all of you yelling at me from afar. I literally have a 2 minute drive to school… I left a little extra early for even less traffic… and as you will be able to tell from the video, I am a VERY safe driver… looking several times right/left/right/left and one more time, before turning at an intersection…

Google Glass- Way to Work from langwitches on Vimeo.