A few weeks ago as I stubbornly avoided being proactive about the ton of University assessments we’ve all been slowly sinking under I was watching some daytime TV show (It might have been The Circle?) and Charlotte Dawson was talking about Twitter trolls & how angry she was at their abuse towards one of her Twitter followers. She said something along the lines of “They can abuse me all they want but not my followers” (don’t quote me!). Not long after this Dawson attempted suicide creating a lot of media attention, in the process added fuel to the fire of debate surrounding the issue of cyber bullying in social media.
Then this morning I woke up & saw that Rugby League player Robbie Farah was calling for Julia Gillard to tighten social media laws after someone ‘trolled’ his Twitter page, making rude remarks about his late mother. Farah claimed that “the laws are piss weak and people should be accountable for their comments”.
If adults who are used to the social eye are not unable to escape the detrimental affect of cyber bullying, how are adolescent students who are naturally more inclined to bullying, supposed to avoid it? I think before any teacher uses social media in the classroom they should take a good look at some of the government resources on the subject that were the basis of some of this weeks topic. One particular website I found especially useful was the NSW Government’s Digital Citizens Website. I’m not going to get into huge detail because this is just a blog post but as I’m about to discuss a couple ways I want to use Twitter in the classroom, I think it’s a vital issue to discuss with the students prior to classroom use of Twitter. Furthermore I think teachers should have structured plan to monitor and deal with any cyber bullying that may occur. Anyway – onwards!
I watched this YouTube Video on a program called DigMe in the United States about how Twitter is being used in a high school English class to engage students. The teacher running the class said something along the lines of “the students use social media to communicate outside of the classroom so it only makes sense to get them to use it to communicate inside the classroom”. As we know some kids are in our classrooms ready to learn, engaged, excited…but some aren’t. I want to work in disadvantaged areas so for me, using social media and ICT to try and encourage student participation in the classroom is a tool that will form an integral part of my teachers toolkit.
History is one of those subjects that is a heck of a lot more fun when the students in the class are engaged and communicating with one another & with the teacher. It’s also a subject that really opens itself up to great discussions & debates. Giving students (and I mean all students here, not just the ones who are confident enough to be involved in a traditional hand raising/speak out loud classroom) the ability to become involved with the direction of the class is one of the QT Framework qualities of student-direction and lets be honest, who doesn’t like knowing they have a voice if they want to use it?
I found this awesome website about the uses for Twitter & from number 38 until 54, the “uses for Twitter” are specifically related to educational uses. My favourite use is actually number 25 – “Keep your tweets under 140 characters. Twitter already forces you to be succinct, but you should keep things under the limit for a reason: when you shorten your tweets, it leaves room for others to chime in and retweet”. In history students are encouraged to be succinct because they only have a limited amount of words to use and being clear and to the point shows a deep understanding of the topic. A way I might use this is to pose a question to the students and get them to give a one sentence “tweet” answering it.
I’m going to leave the blog post here for today, but personally I know that for me Twitter has it’s pro’s and its con’s. It’s use in the classroom could greatly enhance learning but only if there is a system in place to ensure students behave respectfully through it. I don’t see why this cannot happen, teachers have found ways to create respectful classrooms face-face so the internet should be no different – we just have to figure out what works!