Social media used to transform traditional education

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Ann Michaelsen, a teacher at Sandvika High School, Norway, has ditched the whiteboard, exercise books and textbooks for tablets and social media. As a pioneer for technology in the classroom, Michaelsen was invited to the Bett Show 2014 (world’s biggest education technology show) to share her innovative ideas.

One of her methods includes teaching each of her students, in her English class, how to create a blog; here they are able to display their work which is open for comments from others and allows her to mark their work online.

Michaelsen told Bett that,

“Social media is first and foremost a place to get connected – we do it every single day outside school or work, sometimes in work. Most people would encourage connections – school seems to be the last place where that is allowed. It’s almost restricted.

I don’t use textbooks at all because I think that limits how you teach. I post something on the front of my blog and tell my students: ‘this is what we’re going to do today’.”

This method is aimed to create a digitally rich environment where the pupils can drive their own learning, keeping classrooms constantly online allows students to be creative and make their own discoveries.

Haakon Bakker, a 17-year-old student at Sandvika, said that “It’s been really exciting because we can read, comment and exchange information with students in other countries”.

Other popular social network sites are also a key aspect of Michaelsen’s class. For example, instructions and updates are provided through a Facebook group page, and Twitter is used for inspiration from other teachers and students from around the world.

Micheaelsen commented, “Teachers are sharing interesting, innovative thoughts. There are people from the US, South Africa and New Zealand on my feed, I can ask people around the world for help”.

The class also makes use of Skype, allowing them to contact pupils in Lesotho, China and the US. Haakon explained how they “use it to ask them about cultural differences and how different their lives are”.

The digital learning methods used by Michaelsen are possible through the school’s one-on-one policy where each student is provided with a tablet.

Jim Watson, a UK teacher believes that the availability of the resources required for these teaching methods in a long way off in the UK; however more and more schools are embracing technology in the classroom. He also commented on the need for an attitude change,

“Everyone is scared. For 15 years teachers have been saying ‘put your phone away’ in class – now it’s ‘get them out’.”

Janet Crompton, a primary schools teacher at Leckhampton School in Cheltenham, explained how technological advancements can be daunting for teachers,

“Individual teachers don’t need to be totally up to date but they do need to be open and willing to new ideas.”

Michaelsen added,

“If teachers don’t know how to do this sort of thing then nothing will change. If students don’t know how to do this then they’ll be as conservative as the teachers about it.”

One-on-one device policies in schools are becoming increasing popular all over the world, the digital classroom and learning initiatives are slowly becoming the norm.

Source: BBC News

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