Sunday, February 27, 2011

Glendale Community College Collaboration

My first online collaboration in Second Life took place this week with a student from Glendale Community college. I was mildly nervous going into this collaboration because I wasn't sure if I was comfortable enough navigating around Second Life. But this collaboration was actually a good one to start out with because most of the "behind-the-scenes" work was already done, which allowed me to focus on preparing for the conversation. 

The conversation that I had with my partner was an interesting one. I knew that there were issues of gender in education but I had never sat down with someone and talked about them in-depth. My partner asked me a lot of questions pertaining to stereotypical gender behavior in students that I've worked with. It was when I was answering his question that I realized that many times when I witnessed children playing, the girls were playing house or were a princess that needed rescuing while the boys played sports or they were soldiers. I had never given thought to how children play in terms of societal gender roles. The big question that really got me thinking was when he asked me if I felt I interacted better with one gender over another, which is something I haven't thought of. As a future teacher, I wanted to believe that I got along with all my students equally but as we continued talking, I realized that I identified more with girls because I "spoke their language." It was good to come to this realization before I enter the classroom because I know that I'll have to be conscious about building relationships with all my students and not the ones I feel more comfortable with. 

In the end, the conversation between my partner and I was mutually beneficial. I got to see how gender played a role in interactions between myself and my students, my students and each other and student learning. My partner was able to take his theories of gender and bias and put them in a classroom perspective. 

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Battle Over Social Networking

Does social networking have a place in the classroom? This question has been at the center of the heated debate over the use of social networking in the classroom. Some believe that social networking should be welcomed into the classroom with open arms while there are others that believe that it should be banned and never heard from again. Which way best serves our students?  

I think that a classroom that fails to utilize social networking fails to adequately prepare 21st century learners and citizens. Social networking doesn't look like it's disappearing any time soon. In fact, with each passing year, it is becoming more and more ingrained in our society. When used correctly, social media teaches students about communities, respect, organizing groups and working with others. Teachers can get students to see the value of social networking besides talking to friends and posting pictures. Not only that, but it opens up the classroom beyond its four walls. It allows students to collaborate with students around the world, which can bring learning to life. As teachers, we should be encouraging students to leverage online tools to improve and refine their learning. Banning social media teaches our students that they cannot be trusted on the Internet when they should be learning to create and appropriately manage their online identities. 

Social networking should be welcomed into the classroom but it needs to be done carefully. Before engaging social media, teachers should take an opportunity to talk to their students about what is and isn't appropriate behavior in online communities. They should also stress the permanence of anything they post online by reminding them that what they post is a reflection of themselves. It is the teacher's job to model for students how to act professionally on social networking sites. To that end, teachers can make online behavior part of their grade for any assignments involving social media. If students can learn social networking in the safe environment of the classroom, they can go on and use it responsibly in the years to come.


Welcome to my blog! This blog was created for EDT 502- Emerging Technology and Global Collaboration that I am taking at West Chester University. My hope is that this blog will become a place of learning and sharing. I am not currently a teacher but I am part of a professional learning network on Twitter, which gives me the opportunity to learn how teachers are using technology in their classroom and to talk with them about the success and challenges that they're having. As I continue to learn and collaborate more, I will share my experiences in this blog.