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Reading at Edina High School

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of reading to 10th Grade Language Arts classes at Edina High School. Since they are all blogging, I decided to read a blog post that I thought would be of interest to them.
I chose a recent post by Doug "Blue Skunk" Johnson, titled Facebook-An Educational Resource? In the post, Doug explains his philosophy regarding blocking sites for student access and the things he will be sharing with principals in his district about social networking sites like Facebook.

I talked to the students a bit about our filter, and why we block sites like Youtube. Since our network sees a 10th grade student the same way it sees a 1st grader, and Youtube has content that may not be appropriate for 1st graders, it needs to be blocked. (I won't go into the question of whether Youtube has educationally appropriate content, or whether our network should be reconfigured to differentiate between 1st and 10th graders...)

After reading Doug's post, I asked them if they felt that access to Facebook would enhance their learning or be a distraction. Of the 180 students who I asked, 9 felt it would enhance their learning. They were also able to specifically give examples of how it would help, such as groups for each class, collaboration, one stop shopping (So they didn't have to also log in to Edline for assignments).

The remaining students either had no opinion, felt it would be a distraction, or didn't want teachers "spoiling their world".

In any event, it provided for some lively discussion!


DRS said…
While I agree it usually takes the form of a distraction and likely isn't the best space for learning, the argument I'd make from a philosophical standpoint is that the blurring of lines between social and learning is increasing. Twitter being a prime example. Ideas flow from intensely cerebral to completely frivolous. Trying to separate and compartmentalize this is futile in my opinion.
In the same way we wouldn't students from talking about their weekend during certain times,(before the bell, in the halls, as part of a class discussion) I don't think we should necessarily take that opportunity away by blocking facebook.

My real point here isn't too debate whether or not you should or shouldn't block facebook. My point is the blurring of spaces is only going to increase. Most days I find it hard to distinguish playful banter from learning. Too often they intersect and I think we need to pay more attention to how that can happen in schools.
Unknown said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said…
Given I too blur my comments on Twitter from frivolous to "more frivolous", I see your point. I've tried to make twitter more "social learning" and Facebook "just social" but sometimes post educational ideas on Facebook as well.
Back in November, one of my colleagues in a Community of Practice made this comment: "We grew up learning how to use computers for work, and now we are learning to play. Our students grew up learning how to play and now are learning to use them for work."

People in the room thought it was spot on. Then, later that day, you posted a few thoughts on the article called Unlearning How to Teach. "play is not the anti-thesis of work. The sooner we figure this out, the sooner we can get on with critical learning" and this, "The opposite of play is depression. (Sutton-Smith)"

I threw that comment out in a discussion board, but I'm still waiting for a response!
I think my visit last year opened my eyes a bit to the potential of student/teacher interaction in social networks. I'd like to see if it can happen in a "walled garden" like Mahara.
DRS said…
We grew up learning how to use computers for work, and now we are learning to play. Our students grew up learning how to play and now are learning to use them for work." That's a great line. I'm going to use it.

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