Monday, July 27, 2009

Social Networking for K-12 Education

Teachers in K-12 education face a tough road in using social networking Web 2.0 tools. All schools are required by federal law to use a web filter to "prevent bad things" from being accessed by students. Since not all schools in the United States use the same web filter, teachers who want to deploy social networking tools need to have a dialog with both their technology staff and administrative staff. On the administration side teachers need to have approval to begin using these new web sites and communication tools. Having the school leaders and board of education on the teacher's side is important if something would "go wrong." If there are no board policies in publishing to social network sites, help create one. Being proactive helps gain support rather than defending against a lawsuit!

Bring up the discussion at your technology committee meeting to get the feedback of other teachers and school personnel. This help the technology staff see the demand and requests for using new tools. Many social tools are able to be installed to local servers and can help stop possible web filter blockage. The technology staff can also help in developing a school or district-wide social network site like on or a WordPress for blogs.

Look for tools that are designed for education use. Many people know and use for microblogging. This site is not friendly for education use and requires locking the account down to prevent undesirable followers. Instead try out for microblogging which is designed for educational use. There are also more features such as link sharing, calendar events, file sharing, sending out assignments, and creating groups. To join a code is used and having an email address is optional which means parents and students only need web access to view the information but an email if helpful for notifications.

So remember, don't wait to join the Web 2.0 Social Networking age, get your school staff involved and keep everyone in the loop. Get support and go for it! Give your IT staff a heads up and be willing to be a test pilot for the school. About all keep your school life separated from your personal life. This would mean use only your school email for social networks relating to school and even create a separate Facebook account if you want to use that with parents and students. All email and data at school is archived and can be used in any lawsuit or sunshine request.

Have fun and get social!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Back on the Conference Speaking Circuit!

I was excited to be accepted to present at my first conference as a doctoral student. I will present on the use of Free and Open Source Source Software at The 2009 Annual Meeting of the Mid-Western Educational Research Association (MWERA) will be held in St Louis, MO on October 14-17, 2009.

I have presented at many state and regional technology conferences in Ohio when I worked for Garaway Local Schools and I am getting back into being a presenter.

If you have some good topics to discuss or you are interested in discussing please feel free to post a comment.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Teaching Social Networking Tools

I was team teaching a social network class with a colleague of mine and it is interesting to poll the class to see how many use a few social network tools and others have never heard of the tools. This seems to be common that it is getting harder to keep up with changing and emerging technologies. The raw number of applications available compared to just 5 or 10 years ago. I was researching the supporting tools for Twitter which is a very simple microblogging tool and there seems to be hundreds! I am excited to see when Google Wave is released to see if this will help gather all the social tools into one portal similar to how I use iGoogle to manage and push news and information to my web browser.

Check out information about Google Wave