October 29, 2007

Social Learning…it has to happen but what will it look like?

This post was last updated on December 12th, 2011 at 03:17 pm

A local principal told me today she had to suspend 20 students from computer privileges for inappropriate use of school computers. Primarily Facebook. Specifically some of these students were engaging with bullying others socializing. She also suggested most of these student’s parents do not understand the implications of their actions, let alone what facebook is or does.

While my initial reaction was to suggest alternate ways to handle the socializing, the bullying of course raises another issue. She did ask our IT guys to considering blocking Facebook. He was not prepared to make that call. We discussed it later and would certainly like to pursue educational opportunities.

I quickly fired up a tweet and received this responses(for those that do not understand twitter, it only allows 140 characters, thus the IMspeak) :

  • Clay Burell cburell @shareski I’d be interested to read a post about that. If they violate AUP, how is it different from any other misbehavior?
  • Durff Durff @shareski I would revoke until they had passed bullying curriculum and parental meeting…then when they graduate from tha
  • K Christopherson kwhobbes @shareski get them to explore the effects of bullying – do some interviews with people bullied, look at bullying in the media, seek out info
  • K Christopherson kwhobbes @shareski work with them on the issue – on their own time. As for the socializing, isn’t that WHY most kids come to school?
  • Cathy Nelson cathyjo @shareski where else but at school in safe env can kids learn to use FB & MS SN sites. Banning not the anser IMHO. Thy’ll jst do it @ hme.
  •  Alec Couros courosa @shareski: Bullying is against the law in jurisdictions, so let the law deal with, at the same time, let’s educate them, design a program.
  • Brian Grenier briangrenier @shareski Take away their Math books! No that doesn’t make sense either. Have them create and post a digital anti-bullying ad.
  • lucychili lucychili @shareski the medium is not the message/problem
  • Barbara duckie @shareski teachable moment -can they regain their privileges?I’m not to concerned about the social part just the bully part
  • Pamela Livingston plivings @shareski – bullying .and. socialize – these 2 things should be separate and have separate responses imo
  • Heather mctoonish @shareski If it was just to socialize I would argue that that could be a part of learning. The bullying part changes everything IMO

All great responses and once again, the value of the network is evident. (For those still not convinced twitter has merit, how else would you get this type of response so fast? Grant it, these are bursts of support but still they are helpful to me) Definitely these are 2 separate issues and honestly I didn’t get all the details so I’m not sure how the students were dealt with individually. The information given by the principal was limited as this was not the intent of our conversation. But I’m trying to develop a response to this for future reference.

The cyberbullying one for me is almost the easier one to deal with. Part education, part consequence, part responsibility. This may involve the law as Alec suggests but certainly requires a well thought out response. The socialization one is the tough one. As Kelly writes, that’s why they come to school. I’ve talked with our administrators and teachers about social learning and its importance. I’m sure most don’t consider the use of tools like IM and Facebook to be a part of formal social learning. The problem is the lines between personal, professional and educational socialization is blurring. Twitter for example, combines the personal and the professional as well as any tool. Even bloggers get personal from time to time and that’s a good thing. Good teachers have always understood this but today we are more compelled to figure this out. I remember spending classtime talking about their personal issues be it sports, or the current event of the day that impacted them. I also recognized that as students worked together, they would engage in conversation not directly related to the work they were doing. And yes, they got off track and had to be drawn back to focus on the task at hand. But I could never think I could eliminate their efforts to socialize.

We have to consider how to provide learning environments where students can learn and socialize at the same time. As we move to a more personalized learning model it only makes sense. How we do this and how we help teachers get comfortable with this is a challenging task. Obviously, many are not ready to shift to personalized learning. But if we continue to ban these tools be it via filtering or simply classroom rules, we perpetuate the notion of irrelevant learning.

What does a learning environment look like where students can use things like IM or Facebook or text messaging in both an educational and social context?


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