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Social media; employing tools that will change your schools

Social media; employing tools that will change your schools
Patrick Larkin, principal from MA

This session was promoting the use of social networking tools to communicate with parents, students and community. Principal Patrick Larkin has taken the approach that because everyone is using them, that schools should as well. Here are some highlights…

Digital Citizenship
How can we teach digital citizenship if we don’t allow students to use the tools? These are real world communications tools and we need to prepare kids for the real world. We should engage students and parent in discussions about how to use the tools safely rather than block the tools completely.

Administrators need to use social networks
Social networking tools such as Twitter and Facebook allow schools to shape the message. Schools can create the news that they wish to share, and present it in such a way that the message is delivered the way they want it to be.

How I feel about these arguments?
I think that the basic arguments (using current technologies to improve communication) are sound. We should be making sure that we use technologies that are relevant, and that allow us to share with the community the great learning that is occurring in our schools. I’m all for getting more information out to parents, and shaping our message.

I do worry that this session glossed over the potential issues associated with social networking sites. The approach seemed to be, “we haven’t had any problems yet, so we will keep using it until something happens.”  I think that we should focus on the goal (ex. increasing communication with parents) and then evaluate our technology resource options to achieve the right balance between effectiveness, ease of use, potential risk and liability.  It may be that we do want to use some social networking tools, but that we do not want to use all of them.


Google Reader- now this is pretty cool. I sometimes forget about different resources that I check out, like, but then lose track of in the wave of new resources constantly coming out. Google Reader is one worth remembering. Google Reader is a web news aggregator, which basically means that you identify sites or subjects that are of interest to you, and Google Reader will crawl all over the web to find the articles and bring them together for you in one place.

This is a way to place your bookmarks in the cloud, and then share them with others. Similar to Delicious. This was suggested as a way for technology committees to build and then share links to resources for teachers.

Aside from the usual information about Twitter for creating powerful Personal Learning Networks, there was some discussion around the weekly content sessions that take place on Twitter. Once a week, at the same day/time, there will be a question posed to everyone following a particular hashtag (social studies, english, etc), and from there the conversation takes off.

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