Socializing and Collaborating

Check out my article on socializing and collaborating with social media.

Social and Collaborative Media: Tools and Strategies for the Educator

After reviewing the podcast, “Social Media and Education” created by Dr. Sarah Robbins-Bell ( and the book, “The Wisdom of the Crowds” by James Surowiecki ( I believe that social media collaboration falls into two categories: for the student and for the teacher.  For each group of users social media enhances the learning process.  Before this new type of communication people thought that learning could only happen in a classroom setting by a selected “expert”.  “Most of us lack the ability—and the desire—to make sophisticated cost-benefit calculations.  Instead of insisting on the best possible decision, we will often accept one that seems good enough” (Surowiecki XIV).   However, with new resources such as Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and Wiki pages everyone has the power of education.

For the student social media is a resource to gain knowledge and insight on any topic at any level.  This new technology allows students from all over the nation and the world to collaborate on similar interests and studies.  This learning does not always happen in the classroom.  For many students using resources on the web at their discretion allows them to become experts on topics of their choice, ones that may not be refereed to or discussed in class.  

Social Media is also a great tool at connecting and meeting new people.  Students are no longer held back by the number of students in their class, school or community.  Using sites such as Twitter and Diigo students can meet other students, creating friendship and connections.  These sites create an opportunity for a conversation.  Instead of being taught in the lecture format students can now benefit from a two-way conversation with not only their teacher, but with other students as well. “Diversity and independence are important because the best collective decisions are the product of disagreement and contest, not consensus and compromise” (Surowiecki XIX)  For example, when students are studying a particular culture or society students will have the ability to research and make connections directly with the source or place, instead on just looking at pictures in a book.

In addition to collaborating and communicating these sites also provide students the opportunity to become publishers of their work and knowledge.  By conducting their own research they can explore a topic, hence making it their own.  Using programs such as Facebook or Flickr students can now publish or post their findings and products for all to see.  In fact, this is now a great way for students to secure jobs and internships based on their work speaking for itself.  With all these opportunities for self-directed education it is apparent that teachers must change their techniques as well.

Teachers are now redefining their role in the educational system.  It is important for teachers to realize that they are no longer the gatekeepers of information.  With all the social media resources available to their students, teachers must not try control knowledge, but rather encourage student to explore and discover information for themselves.  Instead of just teaching the information, teachers must now teach the skills necessary for students to be successful in a social media world.  Among these new skills is the awareness that it is their right as global citizens for students to access information and share it with the world.            

Another important fact to remember as an educator using social media is that it is OK not be an expert at everything.  By turning over power to the students to teach what they know everyone in the class can benefit, even the teacher.  This is precisely the point that James Surowiecki makes in his book “The Wisdom of the Crowd”.  In this book the idea that the more minds being consulted the more options and knowledge will be presented.  ““The argument for this book is that chasing the expert is a mistake, and a costly one at that.  We should stop hunting and ask the crowd (which, of course, includes geniuses as well as everyone else) instead” (Surowiecki XV).  By empowering students to learn all they can and share their knowledge schools will be creating life long learners that never stop researching, questioning and publishing.  This will eventually create a community where, if knowledge is power, every member will be equipped to become very influential on the world around them.

Teachers can also become students of social media.  Each site mentioned above that aid in student collaboration and communication can be applied to teachers.  Using sites such as Flickr and Shelfari teachers can post questions, comments, and research that their colleagues can review and provide feedback on.  For example, as an art teacher I could post my lessons or projects on a site like Diigo and other teachers could post suggestions and questions that may make my lesson stronger and more meaningful.    

Finally, these online tools can enhance learning for students who sometimes seem distracted or bored.  For these students, the ones that stare aimlessly out into space, social media tools provide an opportunity for enrichment.  ‘By giving them a task, such as researching a topic for the class you are taking a passive learner and making them active.  Now they do not have time to stay uninvolved, they are busy contributing to the class’ (Social Media and Education).It is in this way that social media tools not only help create better learners, but better teachers as well.   

For all the positives social media provides there are still some areas that can cause issues in the classroom.  It is important to remember that social media sites are meant to enhance, not take the place of teaching.  In order for students to use these resources effectively they must be taught how to use them.  By modeling it first teachers can provide a great introduction to the resource and how it can be used.  Then it is time for students to practice.  Let them experiment with each tool, encouraging exploration on each site.  Only if a student is comfortable with the tool will he or she use it.  It is also important to teach students to be responsible learners.  The quote “With great power comes great responsibility” from Superman says it all.  Have knowledge is having power; one must be taught how to gain it, use it, and then share it with the world.  This process does take time; however, in the end students will have skills that will make them successful throughout their lives.   

Overall, my opinion on social media has changed.  Before this assignment I was convinced that these tools were meant for only personal reflection, not educational value.   I can now see the benefit to proving these opportunities for my students.  For example, as an art teacher, using a site like Flickr would be a great resource for students to publish their artwork and even conduct a virtual critique of the classes work.  In this program other students and I could evaluate and comment on a students work, making it stronger.  By allowing students to provide feedback they now feel connected to the work of art and the artist is provided with many great suggestions.  In addition to Flickr I am interested in exploring and incorporating other sites such as Shelfari, Diigo and creating my own art blog that is accessible to students.  I am excited to begin using many of these great resources.



Check out my Screencast:

Flickr Pics with Notes

Here you will find three great friends enjoys a trip to the Inner Harbor in Baltimore this past summer:

Aviary Screen Capture

This is a screen capture about the tips and ideas for artists, illustrators and authors.  This screen capture is from Peter H. Reynold’s website (author of “The Dot” and “Ish”).

Tell a Story in 5 Frames with Flickr

Enjoy this story about two bored spouses and one glass of water.

“Man, am I thirsty.”

This tool could easily be incorporated into the art room in demonstrating new art  mediums, tool or techniques for my students.  For example I could have a Flickr set that walks the class through how to create a wet on wet technique in watercolor.  The possibilities are endless!

Blog Reflections

Blog Reflections

These library and classroom blogs offer a great resource to both students and teachers.  It provides a one stop shop for anyone interested in obtaining, reviewing, or finding out more about books, assignments, topics, or activities around school.  I think that this type of blog would be beneficial for teacher and students to not only search for their favorite texts, but also as a place where they can post reviews, connections or comments on topics or books.  By having the students and especially the staff take an active role in the school’s library/classroom blogs they will not only familiarize themselves more with the process of blogging, but by posting they will also be more likely to use the blog as a continual resource.  The cross-curricular connections will help teacher make more efficient lessons and will provide students with more efficient tools to be successful in the classroom. 

As much as I see the merit of professional blogs, I still have to say that creating a personal one does not interest me.  I very much enjoy the connection that a face to face (or voice to voice) conversations allows and sometimes have difficulty really having in-depth connections online.  I can use it as a professional tool, but I don’t believe that this method of communication will take a very large role in my personal life.

Classroom Blogs Visited

Classroom Blogs Visited

Kindergarten Tales:

This blog focuses on the kindergarten classroom.  This sites takes in interactive look into the daily happenings of the class and includes audio, video, and written posts about important activities.  This blog communicates with parents on past/upcoming events while also providing links to resources that might be helpful tools for at home growth.

Middle School Math:

This middle school math blog is a is a resource that students use by posting entries about their class throughout the year.  Students have several categories or math topics they can choose from in which they will create their own question and then answer it.  This blog is set up to encourage collaborative learning and self-reflection by allowing students to familiarize themselves with a topic and post questions and answers that someone else in their class may be able to use towards finding their own solutions.

AP Lit Blog:

This high school blog focuses on an AP Lit class.  In this blog the teacher posts an assignment, a summer reading activity, in which students must reply by posting a review of the book.  Students will later use this book as an independent study.  By posting their initial feelings towards a book they are brainstorming possible themes and topics that will prompt them to be better prepared for the project ahead.

Library Blogs Visited

These are some of the blogs I visited that focused primarily of libraries.

Paris High School Library:

This library blog allows high school students to virtually search their school’s library and media capabilities.  On this blog students can look up books (by subject, title, or author), click on reading links (including teacher/parent reading lists and recommendations), and even look at the computer lab schedule.  Students are also given the opportunity to critique their own selection of books through links to their own personal blogs.

Virtual Cheesecloth:

This blog is more librarian ran, and includes her favorite picture books, reviews of new texts, and current events happening in the literature world.  This blog allows students and teachers to search for authors, titles or subjects that interest them while viewing the latest podcasts, articles, and webcasts that involve the SLM community.

UNI Book Blog:

This blog is used as a reference tool for students and teachers.  It includes online databases, as well as online catalogs of books.  In this site there are a variety of tools that can make choosing a book easier and more productive.  For example you can read reviews of books, search recommended reads be category, or even ask a librarian a question.

Wiki Page

This is the link to my wikipage, which is full of fun interesting wikis used in classrooms and libraries.

Pagecast Sharing

These are some of the pagecasts that I have been watching.  Most are about the things I find most interesting…food, gossip, and art.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!  Also if you want to check out my own Pagecast page…here is the info:

Art and Culture


Bravo’s Top Chef

Illustrating and Cartooning

Celebrity Gossip

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