Social Networking in the Classroom
This week in class we have been discussing the inclusion of social networking technologies into the learning environment to provide students the opportunity for greater connection between one another and those outside the classroom. In Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works, many types of technology were discussed, ranging from Google Docs and Microsoft Publisher to Sid Meyer’s Civilization series of PC games and WebQuest design. Technologies such as these can have a profound effect on students. The 21st century student, at least in my school community, is incredibly tech savvy. Whenever I incorporate technology into a lesson, whether a PowerPoint presentation with video and audio or the development of a classroom wiki page about Shakespeare, student engagement is dramatically increased along with group cooperation. Since my students are so technologically sophisticated, the incorporation of technologies that they are generally familiar with, but used academically, can greatly increase their cooperative learning and overall understanding of the subject being discussed.
I have always strived to create a classroom that is student-centered and engaging to each individual. The tools described in the reading allow me to not only engage my students with technology but provide an avenue for them to learn cooperatively and socially. Since the primary foundation of social learning theory is that students and people create knowledge through the exposure of multiple cultures and various environments, by placing technological tools into the hands of students that can connect them to diverse ideas and peoples, my students will have a greater opportunity to develop and retain knowledge. Similar to the experience my students will have when they graduate high school and move on to college (a new environment populated by diverse peoples with unique life experiences learning together collaboratively) the inclusion of technologies that give my students that opportunity in middle school and throughout their high school careers will better prepare them for the further advanced education and help them to better retain the knowledge gained during their time with me.
Overall, I personally find social networking technologies to be the wave of the future for education and every other fact of our lives. As I grew up in the formative years of the social networking world (instant messaging, facebook, MySpace, etc) I have seen first hand how they can assist in an individual’s education. I know that my students will benefit greatly from these technological tools presented and that I will become a better educator as I strive to develop lessons that use these tools as a way to help my students achieve success.