School + Facebook = ? (Coetail 1.4)

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In Shaping Tech for the Classroom, Marc Prensky writes about “doing new things in new ways.” This concept is both incredibly simple and ridiculously complicated.

I’ve been thinking about the idea of new things in new ways a great deal since the EARCOS Weekend Workshop: The Networked Educator. During one of Chris Betcher‘s sessions at YIS on Monday 19 September, a colleague recommended a TED talk by Stefana Broadbent entitled How the Internet enables intimacy.

As a high school and undergraduate student, I never really questioned the underlying power structures at work within educational institutions. I followed the rules and did what I was told. This made me, of course, an ideal student for which I was rewarded with high grades. Ultimately, my willingness to play by the rules led to my wanting to become a teacher… and then I became one.

As a counselor working in international schools two decades later, I have developed a different perspective on school. I want the students in our school to be learners and athletes and artists and musicians and global citizens and community-builders; I see it as our responsibility to help them become the best (whole) person they can be. As a person who sometimes has a bad day, I believe it’s totally okay that students have bad days. I am also surprisingly okay with the idea of students spending a bit of their school day being social whether those interactions are in person (which students have always done) or via texting, Facebook or calling their mom or dad for a pep talk. Obviously, there would need to be some rules to help students make good decisions about their use of social networking technology; anyone who has ever worked with teenagers is nodding their head right now. But, ultimately, granting students more dignity and freedom with regards to responsible social networking at school seems like a very good goal for 21st century learning.

For me, that would constitute doing a new thing in a new way.

{P.S. I use Facebook at school every day to connect with the students with whom I have worked… and to connect those students to the students at YIS. Sometimes I even post an update.}


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