Social Chaos

The first five days of class have come and gone and I am already behind the schedule I created for myself. Thankfully, I was able to give the students their network accounts so I would not have to log 30 computers in everyday. The next task was to setup the students with their Edmodo accounts. Once this was accomplished chaos ensued. All kinds of personal messages started flying all over the site. One student complained he could not send his friend a message after being told students could not send messages to other individual students. When one student did the 21st Century version of dipping a girl's pigtails into an inkwell by calling her names on the site I knew something had to be done.

I quickly imposed a no personal message rule. Edmodo is to only be used for class business only. The reason I gave was I wanted students to learn to think about what they were about to post and whether it would get them into trouble. Some students thought I was joking and kept posting. This started the rounds of parent phone calls that went out after school for a couple of days. The way students acted online got me to thinking about how those who are allowed to have a Facebook or other social network account have been behaving online until now. For some students this was their introduction to social networking. I have concluded teachers need to engage students in a social network such as Edmodo to help teach students to look at whether to post what is on the screen. 

While this idea of students and teachers networking might frighten some and run counter to what I have said in the past. However, students need to learn how to act in a closed environment that sites like Edmodo or Schoology can provide. The good news is almost all of my students love using Edmodo. What are your thoughts? Have I gone overboard about the messages or should I continue to keep the messages out of our site? Should it be up to schools to train students how to act on social networks? I would be interested to hear what you have to say.

Thoughts From SCETV Summer Workshop

This past week I had the pleasure of attending South Carolina Educational Television's Summer Technology Workshop for teachers. Donna Thompson and Debbie Jarrett kept me busy by having me conduct sessions on Digital Portfolios, Social Media in the Classroom, and Using Mobile Phones in the Classroom. It was a great time and it seemed everyone got something useful as they had a great time. Here are some of my thoughts of my time in Columbia.

Edmodo: The more I use Edmodo, the more I like it and can't wait to use it in the classroom. Participants who used it signed up with little trouble. Edmodo allowed everyone to share and collaborate during the session at a level I have never seen. Hopefully, this will work for students too and I will keep you posted on how this works out.

MightyMeeting: Although I planned to only use this app in my sessions on Mobile Phones, I quickly uploaded my other two presentations. It was nice to be able to roam around the room and control the presentation from my iPhone. MightyMeeting allows you to do just that. Also, you may invite others to join in by providing your Room ID number. This allows presentations to be given over distances when used with voice communications such as Skype. A chat room provides a place for back channel discussions which can the iPhone app allows participation. 

Using mobile devices such as phones, iPods, and iPads in the classroom is coming sooner than I thought. Augmented Reality and QR Codes have led me to this conclusion. Tongues started wagging when I covered these topics. Guess what? I was only scratching the surface with what I shared on the possibilities of what mobile devices can do.


After giving presentations on using social networks in education there is still a need to promote cybersafety to education professionals.

It is always to gather with friends and professionals who share the same passion I have regarding education technology. A group of us gather for dinner at the Carolina Ale House. During the gathering, Chris Craft proposed we try something I have read about, an unconference. The idea is intriguing and I think it would be worthy of continued study so it can be tried to see how this would work. The gatherings allow educators to gather for unplanned, unstructured discussions on whatever topics individuals wish to lead discussions on. Participants just pick and choose what they want to participate in.

Livescribe: I keep finding more uses for using my Livescribe Pulse smartpen. This time I used the pen to take notes on my research as I prepared for my presentations. All I had to do was sync my pen to my computer and run Myscript for Livescribe to get text that I copied and pasted into PowerPoint. This became a big time saver.

Finally, South Carolina Educational Television is a valuable for teachers. Imagine trying to teach without OnePlace, Streamline, ITV, and other media resources available to enrich your lessons. Also, SCETV is one of the few networks that provide experts to help work with groups on a variety of topics at no cost. Also, SCETV provides teacher technology workshops in March and July each year. These valuable services and more are at risk of being cut due to budget cutting mood of the South Carolina Legislature. Please contact your legislators often to tell them how much you value SCETV. If you do not know who your legislators are you can find out here. Also, consider either becoming a supporter of SCETV with a financial contribution or volunteer your expertise at a technology workshop. 


Raising the Bar

Yesterday, I conducted a session on on Creating Digital Portfolios for the Beaufort County School District's Summer Institute. For the first time I did a technology training session for the BCSD that was targeted to teachers intermediate skills. Participants really worked hard on creating real digital portfolios.

I set up a series of activities for participants using a blog, PBWiki, and Edmodo. The session started with me showing a wiki page with a series of instructions on what needed to be setup (blog, wiki, and student Edmodo account). I would have a brief discussion then participants were given an activity to complete. After completing the activity, we would go over their work. Occasionally I would have to show how to do something such as embed a video into a wiki page.

It excited me that most of the participants we able to set up their accounts and do their activities with little or no assistance needed. There were a few who considered themselves as new to technology and had a harder time. These participants were either assigned a peer-tutor or helped by me.

Just about all of the feedback after the session was positive. One beginner told me later that she was pushed out of her comfort zone but too much and she liked it. She went on to explain she realizes she needs to learn more on how to integrate technology into her classes and yesterday was a positive first step. This feedback excited me a tells me it is Time to raise that bar.