One of the neat things about technology today, is that if we aren’t able to attend a conference or take part in a certain class, there are often ways to get a taste from others who attended and freely share what they’ve learned and their opinions through their blogs, twitter feeds, or websites. True, it’s not the same as attending in person, but the information is out there. Last week, it was fun to follow a few who attended the ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) conference in Denver.
One of the themes that emerged was that social networks were here to stay, and like with any new technology, it can be used productively or as we’ve seen in the news with cyber bullying, have negative effects as well. Rather than banning these schools (kids will find always find a way), the important thing is to teach kids how to use this technology responsibly (which includes when to shut it off).
I’ve always thought Facebook would be a great way to communicate with parents, but sometimes the information I want to share with friends and family is not the same information I want to share with parents and students – and vice versa. Well, Moodle has been around for a few years and many schools swear by it. Now there’s Schoology. Their about page reads:
Schoology provides an enterprise level learning management system and configurable social network. Instructors and students can easily create, share, and manage academic material through a social networking interface.
By incorporating learning management tools into a social environment, Schoology provides a means for teachers, students, parents, and administrators to seamlessly communicate and collaborate on academic issues.
Like Moodle it’s free and looks very promising, if you want to do it the easy way. Moodle is completely open source, whereas Schoology makes its money by selling add-ons like branding and support packages. If your school had a dedicated IT person, Moodle would probably make the most sense.
Elementary schools seem to be the last to venture into new technologies, but at the rate technology continues, it’s impossible to keep up. Maybe we won’t all have to understand how it all works, but we should be able to know enough to use it. Social Networks are also supposed to help make professional learning more efficient. There is a great article in the May issue of Ed. Leadership titled: “Professional Learning 2.0: Moodle. Wikis. Twitter. Ning. It’s a whole new way of talking about professional learning.” (Here’s the link if you’re a subscriber to the journal).
One thing to note about conference bloggers too was how many of them like teachpaperless were quick to point out warnings. Like some companies trying to sell ‘new’ technologies such as the Promethean ActivExpression. Claiming to be a “most important” advance in education, and using devices that look like early 90s cell phones, teachpaperless mentions that the available technology has been around since 2007, is free, and is called … Twitter.
I guess I better get on that twitter account.