Friday, 24 May 2013

MITA reflections

I was lucky to be selected last year to be a part of the Manaiakalani Innovative Teachers Academy (MITA) is in it's inaugural year. This was to allow teachers to find something they were interested in following up and doing some research on this topic, with several paid days leave a year to do so. All of the recipients work is listed on this site.

My research has been to focus on the use of social networks as a means to communicate with students. I have specifically selected to work with Google + as it is accessible at school, is moving forward and does not come with the drawbacks of Facebook. Twitter was not giving enough scope for really sharing ideas about learning, and Edmodo was a little too 'educational' and also required a log in that always seems to be an issue for our students.

My plan now is to set up all of my classes with Google + accounts; to talk them through how we are going to use these accounts and also having communities to have a place to all communicate together.
I am going to gauge student views on the use of this type of social media at the end of this term and again hopefully a couple of times a term. I want to be able to 'talk' to students in a place that is not necessarily email as students are not very good at checking this, whereas Google + can be accessed independently of email. It is not always easy taking on new ideas in class as it is usually easier to stick with the status quo, but I want to move forward; these tools are there, they need to be used as they are going to become more and more prolific in the lives of our students. I hope too, that I can post exam questions that students can then develop answers to, in preparation for their external exams; something our students always struggle with as a result of language barriers and subject-specific knowledge.

Another nice thing about Google + is accessibility I can just as easily check my Google + feed on my Android phone as on a pc or laptop, plus of course I can get the notifications fed into my Gmail account as well if I want to.

My next real step in this project (as well as student account creation) is to find some way of creating tangible evidence about how the students are using Google + as a means of communication. It is possible it will be difficult to evidence any physical changes in student communication behaviour, although actually getting a response to something could be an indicator! Watch this space.