User Generated Education

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Student Reflections from a Social Networked Learning Course

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Last year, I developed a course for the Educational Technology Masters Program at Boise State University entitled the Social Networked Learner.  Most of the students in this graduate course are classroom teachers.  This course explored collaborative and emergent pedagogies, tools, and theory related to the use of social networks in learning environments. Participants gain hands-on experience with a variety social networking tools, create their own personal learning networks, and have an opportunity to develop a MOOC-inspired course for their learners. I described it in detail in Educators as Social Networked Learners.

This post describes some of their reactions and reflections of the course.  As their final project, the students were asked to reflect on their course learning considering questions such as:

  • Which types of social networks did you find most useful in your learning process? What were some of the strongest relationships you built and how were they built?
  • What was the most valuable aspect of the course? What made it valuable?
  • How have your own teaching practices or thoughts about teaching been impacted by what you have learned or accomplished in this course?
  • How have your grown professionally?

(Sidebar:  I have always built class and course reflections into my courses.  During my face-to-face classes, students are asked to reflect on each class session.  For both my face-to-face and online course, students are requested to write a final reflection on what they learned and how they plan to use the course materials.  Not only does it provide a method for deeper integration of course concepts by the students, it provides me, as the instructor, with valuable, deep feedback.  It is also in line with my belief that all educators can be action researchers).

The themes that emerged were:

  • The students generally appreciated and found valuable using Facebook for Groups as our class page.
  • Some students valued using Twitter for professional development.
  • Tweet Chats and Backchanneling during webinars proved distracting, difficult for some students.
  • Several students are making plans to incorporate social networking into their own classrooms.

The students generally appreciated and found valuable using Facebook our class page.

Facebook provided a way for me to build relationships and share with my peers in a quick and easy way. I liked being able to engage in Facebook for personal reasons and quickly check my professional connections at the same time. This enabled me to multitask which I appreciated. The more I replied or commented on posts, the greater impact in learning and building relationships occurred Hannah

I found Facebook to be the most useful as far as posting assignments and being able to make comments on my PLN’s projects, assignments, etc.  Also, being able to tag assignments with classmate’s names was a nice feature with Facebook,   Casey

The most useful social network in my learning process was Facebook because it was so easy to use.  I like the opportunity to give and receive feedback through comments.  Most of all it provided one place to link to other student work and discuss our projects on a personal platform. Ilene

Facebook was one of the main platforms that we worked with in this class and it was also the site that I found most useful. We were able to collaborate through Facebook chat easily and it is an efficient tool for posting projects and getting feedback. Annie

I actually really enjoy the class Facebook page. I felt like posting my assignment to this page and receive feedback was an excellent way for me to learn from my peers. I also really liked that I could see every classmate’s posts and read and understand their interpretation on an assignment on an easy to read platform. Jenni

Some students valued the use Twitter for professional development.

I had a strong dislike of Twitter before I took this class, and learning how to utilize Twitter for educational purposes really helped me to see the benefit behind Twitter and all in has to offer. I especially liked the Twitter chats, which I had no idea even existed. I will absolutely be using Twitter chats in the future. I have already gained some valuable resources from others through the Twitter chats and hope to continue this. Jenni

Twitter was the tool that I had not used very much prior to taking this course. It has always been very much a side dish in my social media meal. However, that tool has now become a main course for me. I find myself learning more from that tool than the others. I have grown professionally by becoming a consumer and contributor to Twitter. I think that I am building my professional brand by tweeting things that other users find valuable. Dennis

Well, I’d say that my thoughts were reinvigorated. I always knew Twitter was an amazing PD tool, but now I am re-reminded of that. I also knew that collaborative teaching is the best teaching, and now I am reminded of how to best collaborate across the globe. Cate

Using social media tools for professional development was a new and positive experience for me. I think it is amazing and motivating to find passionate educators engaged in discussion on a weekly basis in Twitter chats and live webinars. The accessibility of these tools and discussions makes them very useful and practical for professional development. I plan to continue my involvement in the chats and hopefully locate more live webinars that are applicable to my teaching setting and interests. In addition, I hope to share these tools with my fellow peers and introduce them the opportunities that are available for growth and knowledge sharing. Hanna

Tweet Chats and Backchanneling during webinars proved distracting, difficult for some students.

I was disappointed with the live twitter chats. Even though I took a typing class in high school, I still felt like I couldn’t keep up.  It was hard to juggle answering questions, tweeting back to individuals and groups, and engaging in side conversations. Casey

The Tweetchats I found had no benefit for me.  They were poorly managed and usually were of groups of people who already had established a relationship so they talked off subject and independent of the topic. Ilene

Several are making plans to incorporate social networking into their school environments.

I really want to use Twitter and Wikis in my classroom. This is a large impact on my teaching practices because I felt like there was absolutely no place for Twitter in the classroom before I took this class. However, I foresee myself using the Twitter chats and having students posts links to their work. Jenni

Before this class, I had a lot of concerns about using social networks in the elementary classroom. I was worried about all of the possible negative reactions and consequences. In fact, I was so nervous about using them that I did not even open my mind to it. I chose to take this class so that I could get some of these questions I had answered. From my experience in this class, I realized that there are many other options that I could use with my students that I could have complete control of. Annie

I plan on implementing the use of twitter chats in the school for teachers and students. There is so much real-time information available and I feel it is an excellent resource. Dana

I’m hoping to encourage my administration to allow teachers to complete PD via social media as long as we can each document that we did something valuable.  I found the twitter live chats to be a valuable place to find resources. Scott

I fear I am going to be unpopular pushing the use of social media in my district, but, after taking this class, I see that it must start with those few of us that see the benefit and push for change. Ilene

I think Hannah provided the most significant comment I read:

I am continually being affirmed of the importance of the teacher to play the role of facilitator in education. Students need to be given more freedom to explore their interests and passions – – I see social media tools providing one way for students to do this.

As a closing piece, here are some of the graphs from the Likert Scale that introduced the survey.  It provides some good overall information, but I find the qualitative, as shared above, to be much more beneficial in exploring the key learning of students in the course.

2013-08-11_07162013-08-11_0720

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Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

August 11, 2013 at 2:39 pm

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