Friday, November 13, 2009

Purdue University in the Hotseat

I recently came across this article about social networking, specifically Twitter, at Purdue University. (This one, too.) Seems that their IT people have developed their own social networking program called "Hotseat." The students in the classes are able to send out questions, comments, and so forth via this program, and from what I can tell, it also posts to their Facebook and Twitter accounts.

This has some very interesting possibilities within the classroom. I would likely use Edmodo for my classes since it is more secure and controlled, and it would take a good bit of training and reinforcement, but I can see where this might work. As I am delivering the lesson, students could post their comments and questions on the Edmodo account, which would be displayed on a separate screen. The students could then answer each other's questions, posting links and whatnot related to the class discussion.

Of course, this would take some training and practice, particularly with my younger students since the temptation for "What up?" and other non-related and therefore inappropriate messages might be too great. Perhaps if/when I roll this out, I would start with my TOK class, then moving down to the sophomores, either not using it with the freshmen or waiting until perhaps fourth quarter to introduced them to it.

Which brings me to my struggle this year. With the new district policy around pacing, I am supposed to be pretty much doing the same thing as the other classes in the building (aside from TOK, which is unique to IB). At least at first glance, this precludes the use of blogs and other technology in the classroom which is a huge disservice to my students. As Will Richardson has observed, those who aren't publishing (online) aren't a part of the conversation. We saw the use and power of technology in the last federal election cycle and in the protests over the election in Iran; if our students do not know how to utilize those and other 21st century tools, they will not be able to be active citizens in their own democracy. While this may sound like hyperbole, it isn't. It's simple fact. I'm seriously worried.

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