Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Edmodo, Twitter, and Web 2.0

Last week I found out about, and signed my students up for, Edmodo; basically Twitter for teachers and their students. (FYI, I am on Twitter as well... feel free to follow me!) It took me a little while to get the hang of it, but now that I'm catching on, I'm really enjoying it and finding it far more useful than I thought. I can send just about anything to my students and/or to the groups I set up within it. Best of all, it's extraordinarily safe: students need a code just to sign up to use it... very nice.

Along those same lines, students in the UK are now going to be required to be technologically literate by the time they leave the primary grades. The new requirements include the ability to utilize not just basic skills but also skills with social networking, blogging, podcasts, Twitter, and so forth. I'm only vaguely surprised to see these skills being formally incorporated into school curricula; not too long ago we had a rather interesting (read: vaguely heated) conversation around the idea that as English teachers our job had moved from the traditional role to more of that of a communications teacher, and as such, we were to accomplish three tasks: teach our students to read well, communicate effectively, and to think. After the initial eyebrow raising, at least some of my colleagues began to see the logic in this... and then the conversation turned to technology. Why is it so many teachers have such an intensely phobic reaction to the incorporation of technology in the classroom? There are times when I wonder how on earth I was able to get anything done before the advent of the digital age.

And yet, there certainly are risks to the uses and abuses of technology; it's not the panacea to learning as this Irish student was so effectively able to demonstrate. Like anything, technology is a tool, one that we should be using effectively instead of allowing it to use us. It's easy to get lazy about this: I see it in both students and teachers all the time. Using technology effectively takes work; it's not for the faint of heart, yet it is here and as Will Richardson so eloquently put it in this blog entry, it is crucial that our students become fluent in the language and be able to truly communicate their ideas effectively in a variety of mediums (and media). Are the days of reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn over? Hardly. But what is over are the days when we could complacently expect our students to read literature and spit back what we asked them to memorize facts and information on a paper test. It's time for our students to really be able to show us what they've learned and are learning, and it's time for us as professionals to be open to the possibilities.

1 comment:

  1. Good review of Edmodo! And great link to the Guardian article. I hope we get standards in place like that soon! Love the blog!