I spend quite a bit of time on Twitter and weblog social media curating and discussing people’s ideas, trialing my own, and thinking about how social media is used in education. Not just schools, but also higher education and academia. There are many advocates for the usefulness of education technology (search #edtech). In fact many wonder why there would even be educators still out there that don’t use social media.
This is beginning to worry me.
It has been worrying me for some time, in fact. Maybe the 140 characters is a real problem. Maybe, imperative language is more concise?
What many of the converts to the online world of Twitter-professional-learning and personal blogging (including myself) don’t mention in their 140 characters is that social media will not save education. Coding is not the second coming. In fact edtech talk often ignores some of the real issues in education such as accessibility. For example, how can you flip a classroom and insist on online learning when many students’ families can’t afford personal internet access? School and public libraries’ free-wifi only goes so far, especially when children are taking on adult responsibilities in their homework time.
Questions about how Big Data can help students learn more effectively also concern me. The students that most require attention paid to their learning needs might not be online outside of classroom hours to have their usage tracked. Will this thought process continue to widen the gap?
Not so long ago, I tried to run a Twitter chat on how people were using edtech to enhance inclusivity in their classrooms. Maybe it was ill-timed but there was a resounding silence on the Twitter-sphere. One academic engaged and shared a useful resource about high possibility classrooms, but that was it. Maybe it was a bad day, but it didn’t stop me thinking along these lines, that’s for sure.
It is important for educators to remember that edtech are tools. The SETT model, is a nice, well established model of inclusive education that can be applied to technology in the classroom.
- Students first (the students should always be first). Do they need the technology? Will it address their current needs? Can their families afford the mandatory requirements like an iPad?
- Environment. Is the learning environment suitable for online access? Is it suitable outside the classroom for ALL your students?
- Task. Will the task be enhanced by the use of technology? Not just engaging and fun, but will it mine the depths of their critical and creative thinking in a way a pencil cannot?
- Tool. Which tool will be the most appropriate for all students in the class to access the learning? Does one student lack home internet access? If so, then can you problem solve their access appropriately and reasonably? If not then you should review Australian Human Rights‘ access to education considerations before asking students to do their homework online.
If you answered “No” to any of these points then maybe you need to rethink whether edtech is the best solution for engaging your students.
I use social media and blogging because I have found that it works for me. I am happy to model it’s use as an option for learning, just not mandate it (though there are powers that be that do the mandating for me through platforms such as Blackboard and Turnitin). I don’t use anything else because nothing has resonated. It’s not that I haven’t experimented widely. It may also be that I lack access to an Apple (case-in-point).
Maybe I haven’t found it yet. Maybe there is a whole raft of online educators talking about how they are using technology to reduce the poverty and literacy gap. I would love to hear from you.