Prompted by a recent twitter chat for #ukedchat which examined social media in the classroom, I began to think about just how relevant this is for our Primary schools.
It all starts with the curriculum…
Interestingly, in Key Stage 1, we are asked to cover this:
communicate safely and respectfully online, keeping personal information private, and recognise common uses of information technology beyond school
Communicate safely and respectfully online
Seems straightforward, part of e-safety and online bullying. I have been developing a scheme of work for internet safety here – lots of this can be covered within schools PSHE curriculum.
Keeping personal information private
This is an area that will need some work, and the development of social media that children may access makes this all the more important. It can be taught, rote style, as in 'rules', but modelling this with a school account, and teaching them how to make comments can be much more powerful.
Recognise the use of information technology beyond school
A tough one. There is no doubt that any access to technology is modelling this, however we have little control over what they can access at home and beyond. Also, we need to have access to this in our classroom, which is often easier said than done!
The key Stage 2 curriculum involves a little more:
understand computer networks including the internet; how they can provide multiple services, such as the world-wide web; and the opportunities they offer for communication and collaboration
describe how internet search engines find and store data; use search engines effectively; be discerning in evaluating digital content; respect individuals and intellectual property; use technology responsibly, securely and safely
Here we have the notion of 'communication and collaboration' and the idea of 'using technology responsibly' – again modelling the use of social media seems to be key.
Do you ask your pupils to contribute online? Do the classes have shared blogs that they use?
Do you model how you find information? Ask the pupils what they use?
So what, practically can we do in the classroom for these 'social' elements of the computing curriculum and should it include recognised Social Media? I think the key here is that the staff and school have to model how these technologies can be used. If the school team are reluctant, begin by trialling an open 'showcase' type blog (best work blog for example) – or investigate some of the 'education blog' services. Piloting a school twitter account, or a facebook account for linking with authors, for example, can also be useful.
Some sharing element can also be useful, for example a school Scratch account, where the children can view others' work and comment on it.
Technical support will be needed, particularly if you are finding sites blocked. See my Digital Strategy ideas for more.
There are some key questions we need to consider here:
- Is it okay to set homework which involved an online element?
- How much prior knowledge to parents have? How explicit should home/school agreements be?
- How much can we expect from teachers? Should updating a homework blog really be part of our PPA expectations?
Note, it is no longer about using a computer programme to complete work, but more about the 'connected' – can we expect our children to have internet access at home?
Ideas to get started…
The type of Social Media that we use can have an impact too, I recently used the school twitter account to ask Astronauts questions about the ISS. The children contributed these questions to a Padlet on their blog and I tweeted them. Undoubtedly a great use of social media, giving a learning experience they wouldn't otherwise have, and learning how it can be used responsibly.
I've used class blogs built on blogger, which the children can leave comments on. We teach them how to leave them, but stress the e-safety aspect continously. It's really important that any issues are dealt with immediately, a responsible adult needs to monitor the comments.
There are plenty of services which offer a closed VLE type of experience, if privacy is a concern, consider trialling one of these. They have their downsides, but many schools still make use of them.