The possibilities of Social Media…
Alice’s Wonderland links well to Social Media for me. Being a new user, exploring this area finds me surrounded with innovative, strange and exciting virtual communities that seem a bit nonsensical. As an inquiry learner, I am working on my growth-mindset about the possibilities of using social media as a re-search tool.
Alice: This is impossible.
Mad Hatter: Only if you believe it is.
These digital tools or sources allow users to create, share and interchange information and ideas in virtual, connected systems around the world. They are available for downloading onto computers, phones and digital devices such as i-pads, readily accessible for viewing and sharing. The pathways available for me to explore are plentiful yet a little overwhelming so I will narrow my focus to begin with a few to continue my journey.
So, what social media will I investigate?
Wikipedia’s list of active social networking websites displays the huge variety of social media available and the staggering number of registered users in each. These sources provide another avenue to uncover new information about a variety of topics and issues trending in education worldwide with relatively easy search and sharing systems for users. I will explore Twitter, Pinterest and Blogs to explore my inquiry questions.
How can student voice and choice be used to enhance student learning in Primary classroom settings?
Twitter is an online source for social networking where users read and send messages of up to 140 characters in a message known as a “tweet”. A # symbol, known as a “hashtag”, is used before the key word or phrase to search for tweets on your chosen topic of interest. Search terms and phrases are categorised allowing readers to trace threads of conversations and trends with popular hash tagged words. A Twitter Help Centre is available to help with queries and common questions.
To search, you follow terms or topics of interest and browse tweets to link to new people using those terms or specific people you follow using their @username account. Advance searches allow you to narrow the search to include a number of terms and exclude others as well as filtering for positive comments and ‘re-tweets’. I began with the term “inquiry” and looked at tweets for related tags including collaborative learning, inquiry-based learning and student engagement. I used the advanced search tab at the top to join the terms inquiry AND “student voice” and ticked searches for positive tweets in English language.
Since joining Twitter, I have found that following figures of authority on inquiry learning and organisations promoting inquiry learning and student voice have linked articles for me to browse in my home page which are often relevant to my needs.
Searches often linked to #inquiryed and Edutopia blogs around inquiry learning with interesting articles to read on enhancing student voice in classroom settings. I began asking myself how student centred my own classroom was after reading one of their articles by Rebecca Alber (2015), How Student Centered is Your Classroom?
As I specifically wanted to look for links to student voice in education, I then began a search with #student voice. This gave me tweets to follow which led to finding some practical classroom ideas to make student voice visible and a you tube video reminding teachers to listen to and respect student voice.
- Links you to current links, twitter followers and users worldwide
- Quick and easy search results for blogs, photos or videos of your topic of interest
- Can follow sources of authority or authors on your topic area
- Search quickly to share ideas and resources or see news about your topic
- Not as easy to find scholarly articles and it can take time browsing for relevant articles as information is sorted through the hashtag term
- So many things to view and link to can distract you away from search topic focus
Pinterest is a social media networking and curation tool that lets you “visually bookmark” or “pin” images of interest from the internet to “boards” to create interest topic areas that you curate. I can “repin” images from other Pinterest boards to my own creating interest driven topic pages. Using images instead of URLs mean it looks aesthetically appealing. A drop down menu allows you to select Education as a topic. You can also type words or phrases into the search window and related terms appear in a drop down menu for your to select from. There is a Pinterest Help Centre which is useful for new users.
I began with “inquiry learning” and added from the suggested category tiles of “Middle School” and then “Primary”. Pinterest provided me with a drop down menu of related terms for Inquiry learning to chose from such as “Inquiry based learning” and which I also selected to further refine my search for browsing. I added the term “assessment” and did find some links to education sites with relevant articles although it look some time to scan down through the resources available. I also added “student voice” to inquiry learning and found a good resource for reducing teacher talk in classrooms and enabling rooms to be more student centered. There was a drop down menu from the top right of the screen allowing me to choose the larger category of “Education” but the pins and boards were not specific enough for efficient searching. I did not find the searching process effective as I could not use Boolean terms or operators as in other searches.
I had already set up my own Inquiry Learning board when joining Pinterest so was able to quickly bookmark the pins or boards directly onto it. Sources were mainly from teachers and schools and practical in nature rather than scholarly journal articles or research papers.
- Pins and boards I liked whilst browsing could be pinned directly to my own topic board on Inquiry Learning for reading thoroughly later
- Suggested search areas and sub categories based on your initial search terms
- Many pages were based on American terms and curriculum
- Resources were predominantly teacher generated as worksheets, kits and poster resources which goes against student voice in student created work and instructional charts co-constructed with students (in inquiry learning classrooms)
- I found it difficult to refine your search as it broke search phrases into single words and didn’t seem to use Boolean terms or operators
A “blog”, the abbreviation of “weblog” is a discussion and information sharing website on the world wide web. Conversational styled journal entries or “posts” share information or ideas with others online in reverse chronological order. Comments and links can be used to make the blog interactive for the viewer and information often focused around a particular topic. WordPress.com has an Introduction to blogging page which is helpful when learning about blogs.
The quickest way for me to find relevant blogs for my search topics was to use a RSS (Rich Site Summary) search engine. I chose Instant RSS Search by ctrlq.org as they claim to “help you discover the most popular feeds on the web around your favorite topics”. Typing “inquiry learning” into the search bar produced a range of relevant blogs to begin my searching with. I also looked for “student voice in learning” and “student voice in assessment”.
Many relevant blogs were added to my Pinterest boards on Inquiry Learning and Student Voice and I was able to subscribe to other blogs will now email me updates directly. I have realised a whole world of resources waiting to be accessed and stored all around my topics of interest and inquiry questions. I have linked a thought provoking resource from my blog search with some practical steps for increasing student voice in the classroom setting below:
- Can use RSS search engines to find relevant blogs quickly and easily
- Information is interactive with hyperlinks to related information in a variety of forms
- Favourite blogs can be linked to your email account with current information on your interest area sent to you
- Huge amount of material to choose from can be overwhelming
- Some blogs can be out of date and not regularly updated
Perhaps Social Media, even though I originally though it didn’t suit me, has now allowed me to see a new and efficient way of staying up to date with current topics around learning in Education. In allowing myself to be curious and explore new re-search options, I have realised that I have found some valuable sources of information. Just like Alice, I need to wake up and leave Wonderland and it’s world of infinite possibilities (until another time…) and use the potential of my imagination to curate my discoveries so that I too can be “much more muchier”and reflect on my central question.
How can student voice be utilised in Primary inquiry classrooms to enhance learning?
How can student voice be encouraged?