Hot Topic: Social Networking

Through David Warlick's blog, I read the National School Board Association's report on Creating and Connecting (pdf). In the interest of full disclosure, I have not read the entire report quite yet - but I did skim to read the highlights. And the first line of the summary of the report over at Tech Blorge certainly catches the eye:

"The internet isn't as dangerous as people think, and teachers should let students use social networks at school."

In the words of a recent car commercial: Duh!!

Now - I am the first to admit that I am a relative newbie to this entire social networking thing. I don't have a FaceBook or MySpace account - mostly because I am old (or at least feel like it) and because I maintain several blogs. I network and connect through those. I also am concentrating on tools that I think I can help teachers translate into practice - ones that are worth their time learning. I have to confess - I just don't get the Twitter craze. Who cares what I am doing RIGHT NOW?

And while I find the report (at least at first glance) helpful - I still need to email districts sites that I would like unblocked before I can do the tech workshops they request. And we still run into glitches and very upset IT guys when I ask for teachers to be able to register and use the sites. And teachers still say this is great but if the districts block the site, why would I bother?

I am also struggling with the best way to present these new tools to teachers. The ones who are relatively tech savvy and who can see the big picture catch on pretty quick. I am inspired by the teachers like the one I posted about on Writing Frameworks who can pick up the ball and run.

But I also need to reach those who struggle with the technology and might not have the courage to stray from the traditional. To admit that we are now teaching in a very different world from that which taught us. How do I slow it down and make it more comfortable for them?

I had some success this week in working with teachers on using tags. Even the one person in the room who admitted he was there "for the course hours" was collecting sites and tagging them. As the workshop progressed and they learned to network and subscribe and send links - I think the teachers could see the power of the tech tool. One small step for teachers, one giant step for students. Of course, Diigo was blocked because I did not seek prior permission but I was able to share one of my marked sites and I am pretty sure at least one of the teachers is already doin' the Diigo!

Blogging in the afternoon didn't go as smoothly - but it really never does. And in my own workspace, after setting up a Google Group for my team, one member got blocked in the course of the day. I'll be making yet another IT phone call soon! But I am choosing not to dwell on the steps backward and want to celebrate the baby steps forward. I had an AMAZING Skype chat with Fellows from Communities For Learning last night as we struggled with sending a large file and with our Google Group.

So as David Warlick says, "getting it is only step one." Now we all have to use it!

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