#Change11 #CCK12 What problems are we facing with the use of social media and technology in classroom setting?

I read Josh response here with interests, and would like to respond based on my understanding and experience with wicked problems.

I am particularly impressed with the comments here:

” let’s continue to opt our kids out of the 21st century and submit them to disruption-free technologies designed to reinforce and support 19th-century teaching practice in ways that are entirely irrelevant to our learners’ future and are intended to prevent their autonomy.”

Graham further pointed out the seemingly benefits of using interactive whiteboards, student response systems, virtual learning environments and other technologies where we congratulate ourselves on digitising their learning experiences, and that we could maintain our role of the teacher as factory worker rather than liberating them to practise the art of teaching.

What is the problem here? Is it a wicked problem?

We don’t seem to have the answers to these questions and challenges.  I don’t think we have quite understood the fundamental causes of each of those issues yet, mainly because they are all paradoxically inter-related, where the factors causing the problems are not linearly related, but super-imposed upon each others – the wicked problems.

The wicked problems and social complexity provides some clues.

Here I think the problem lies with the assumptions that technology provides solutions to wicked problems – like huge loss of interests in education, drop-outs etc.

Let’s teach kids how to consume computing in the form of ICT. After all, they’ll never get a job if all they know is how to shoot and edit a video, upload to YouTube and then virally distribute it around their social networks. Heaven forbid that they won’t know how to craft a letter if all they know how to do is to write and publish a blog. Having all those facts you’re expected to memorise and regurgitate at your fingertips will make you lazy and distracted. And while we want them to collaborate with their fellow learners, never – repeat, never – should they be allowed to do it in an examination room or anywhere we can’t see it.

Here in the pros and cons of using social media in the classroom:

The pros include: Educational Tool, Enhance Student Engagement, Improve Communication Among Students and Teachers, Preparing Students for Successful Employment

The cons include: Social Media can be a Distraction, Cyberbullying, Discouraging Face-to-Face Communication.

If we are to reflect on the above pros and cons, it seems that social media could both be an affordance and hindrance to learning and education, when applied in a classroom setting.

Relating to Josh comments:

Technological Understanding of the Teachers – There are differences in understanding of technology as I have shared here.  Teachers would need to gain a better understanding of the changes happening around their education and learning environment through conversation and interaction with other colleagues or educators in the networks and communities.  If teachers are scared that there would be retributions, they can share anonymously – otherwise there is an impression of problems that can’t be solved which may be false, as suggested by Nicola.

Faced with the challenges and difficulties at this uncertain time, what are the options to embrace those changes?

1. Experiment and try innovative and novel approaches, like

(a) what Sebastian Thrun and Salman Khan are doing?

(b) what George Siemens, Stephen Downes, and Dave Cormier are working on – the MOOCs such as The Change11 and the Connectivism and Connective Knowledge CCK12?  Or what Alec Couros and David Wiley have been teaching with their influential courses?

(c) what others have been working on in networked learning such as Cloudworksnew initiatives in the future of education and online learning?

Ability to filter out the decent content online – Josh says: “The amount of useless videos online is astounding, and if we enable ICT in all schools, we can have that issue as well.” Would we need to learn how to curate and source valuable educational resources? Here George shares his views in the conversation (second video) on the challenges in dealing with information overload:

1. Start to reduce intake of information.

2. Start to make better use of information filter, through the Twitter, technology and learning networks, etc.

3. Acceptance that information overload is an issue and start to reflect on how one should tackle these challenges in our schools.

Here I have shared the use of networks and social media platforms as ways to share our views and learning, so we could critique on the concepts behind through critical inquiry, with PLE/PLN as filters to the information, and creation of artifacts for sharing of information and knowledge, leading to on-going discourse with Web 2.0 tools.

Student maturity – Josh says: “The internet is a dangerous place.” “All it would take for one student to mistakenly download something to ruin the whole credibility of a school policy on ICT use. Cyberbullying is a huge issue, and while ICT can be used as a benefit for students, it can also lead to disaster (the recent suicide of Victorian girl Sheniz Erkan, for example).  

I agree that this could be a huge challenge to educators to allow students to work “against” the school authority.

There has been numerous researches and posts indicating the merits and risks associated with social media used in classroom teaching.

“The positive effects of social networking sites in education are profound. According to a study conducted by the University of Minnesota on student use of social media, students who are already engaging in social networking could benefit from incorporating it into curriculum.”

Though sexual predators are often cited as the primary concern, Amanda Lenhart with the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project, explained, in an article for the Houston Chronicle, that this is less of risk than it is made out to be.

“Mostly kids at risk already have a bunch of social and emotional problems in their lives. These kids are the ones who might engage in risky behaviors, seek out sex talk online and knowingly meet people who are older.”

According to the article, “Peer-to-peer harassment and bullying are much more common threats to online youngsters,” which is a concern both online and off.

Both Federal and state legislation has been proposed to curb the use of social networking in schools, which has incited controversy over the legality of such legislation. Critics believe that regulating online activity is a violation of first amendment rights.

May be it depends on the context of education and learning, the learning environment, needs of the educators AND the learners, and the instructional design.

Photo: From Zaid’s post.

Do you want LMS: spending more, closed interaction, limited conversation teacher/learners or PLE: free, open with conversation & interaction?  Is that the problem?


5 thoughts on “#Change11 #CCK12 What problems are we facing with the use of social media and technology in classroom setting?

  1. Look, in the end, it really comes down to three options:

    Have ICT fully integrated into the education system. In itself, that can cause significant cost problems (damages, constant replacement, etc). The first point that comes to mind is the financial cost, first and foremost. After that, we can continue down this path.

    The crucial problems with ICT and related technologies is security. Clearly, hacking groups aren’t going to be likely to throw an attack on a school, but the idea of a sex offender who knows more about technology than an expert? That worries me.

    There are good reasons for the Internet to be lawless, that’s been seen with the recent protests against SOPA/PIPA. On that note, though, we must be careful. Very, very, very careful.

    The issues around ICT and the Internet do present us with a powerful tool, and a dangerous weapon. We can see that the Internet has been used as a weapon before (Stuxnet and the Iranian weapons program, for example), but for some wonderful projects (Wikipedia, Khan Academy, my new blog, for example, encourage collaborative tools and group work, which can be amazing, but have obvious problems).

    We must be wary of the Internet this century, and be very careful about the steps we take to safeguard both ourselves and other individuals.

    Thank you for valuing my points, by the way, it’s appreciated. 🙂

  2. Hi Josh,
    Thanks for your valuable insights. I shared your concerns. You mentioned that Internet to be lawless, that’s been seen with the recent protests against SOPA/PIPA. I think there are many implicit rules and laws behind internet, just that these are so complicated that we might not have realized that when learning with the webs and networks. I don’t think SOPA/PIPA would solve the problem though. Also, we never know what sort of retributions there might be when some people break those “rules” and “laws” in accordance to SOPA/PIPA, but surely that could lead to a return back to strict governance and control over internet. This may further lead to an overall decline of engagement of people (educators and learners in particular) on the webs or networks, in fear of the penalties and threats of imprisonment if there are copyright infringements. Numerous social media may close down – including FB, Youtube which might be undesirable. I do think we want to ensure that greed and commercialization (with monopoly) would not become a hindrance to internet development and open education and sharing (i.e. the democratization of learning). So, yes, we need to open share and critique on the issues, but we should also reflect on how we could leverage the affordance to our advantage, rather than worrying too much about those risks. We could even involve our colleagues and students to co-develop solutions in tackling those challenges.

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