Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Teachers Need to Become Social Networking Experts

I tweeted the below message this morning after having a conversation with my junior high math teacher. She had been sick yesterday and looked pretty pale today. She had planned on students working in the lab today testing, but most had finished the day before. Since she was obviously not feeling good, I volunteered to put something on my blog that the students finished with the testing could do. After asking her what she was covering, probability, I did what any 2.0 teacher would do, I went to Twitter for help.

Within a few minutes I started receiving suggestions from my network.

Obviously, covering for another teacher is not an unusual occurrence, we have all done that. What makes this more unique is that the people that helped the math teacher out did not even know her. Several of the wonderful teachers that responded haven't even had a lengthy conversation with me. They just saw a need and filled it.

This is obviously a positive pln story, but it really is much more. This is really a small hint of what we will soon see in education. Teachers need to evolve to being social networking experts. Students will look to us for our ability to link them to what they want (need) to learn. We will no longer be expected to be experts in content or tools. We will need to be experts in creating paths from learners to knowledge.

I have a new job this year. I have three hours a day to help facilitate technology into our school. While I have been teaching teachers (and students) tools, I find that the best learning experiences come from connecting students and teachers to sources they can learn from.

We have had several experiences this year that have made for some great experiences for my students and for others. Dear Kia: Voicethread and Video helps recount a wonderful teachable moment that started with simple question by a student commenting on a child's blog (something I consider to be incredibly transformative for my students). Mrs. Baker and Mrs. Whittier Skype Meeting recounts two classes sharing culture using Skype. Mrs. Whittier's Spanish class wanted to know what school was like in Mexico and we have students that have attended school in Mexico. In How to Speak Chuukese Part 1 we took a problem, a small population of students that spoke only Chuukese, and decided to create some videos to help others that may have the same problem.

What made these experiences possible was the connections I have made through blogging, commenting on blogs, and Twitter. I created no content but simply connected my students to learning opportunities. You better start making connections too if you want your students to have these opportunities.

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