What do you think of when you hear the words social networking? For many, including myself, our minds automatically travel to thoughts of Facebook and Twitter. With the overload of memes of anthropomorphized cats and recipe sharing on Facebook and the 140 character limit of Twitter we would not necessarily think of these applications as having any sort of educational benefit or role. We look at these sites as places to socialize, places to meet up with friends (people we have an interest in) and share whatever makes us happy, makes us wonder, makes us think of the other person, not as places to meet based on our shared interest in a particular subject (Richardson, 2010). Yet, they and many other such applications certainly have that opportunity.
Schooltube is one such application. Schooltube, like YouTube, allows people to create and upload videos for viewing by others. The difference here is that it is the teacher and students of a particular class who are creating and uploading the videos for that particular class. Schooltube allows the teacher to upload a video of the day’s lecture so that students can see it before class, where students would be spending their time in learning activities rather than listening to lecture, or so that absent students can watch and not be lost when they come back to class. This allows the teacher to create a flipped classroom where students learn by doing in the classroom and getting lecture and information before class at times and in ways convenient to them. Schooltube also allows students to share videos with their classes. These can be collaborative interactive homework assignments or ones they find elsewhere that help them understand the material. I find that Schooltube has a great deal to offer adult education from the flipped classroom concept to the connected learning occurring by engaging students in topics and through applications of interest to them (Ito, 2013). So many students are lost when they lose interest or have no way to connect to other with those interests.
Edmodo offers a space for students and teachers to come together around a subject even when they are separated by distance. Like Facebook and Twitter, it allows the class group, as set up by the teacher, to comment and post about whatever the subject might be. Like Twitter, the class can easily “follow” a topic, post, comment or any other subject they might find interesting to follow. It creates a sense of learning through fun again. Everyone feels connected, engaged and excited about learning and everyone can communicate easily and efficiently in a space that is familiar and comfortable, bringing the bricks and mortar classroom into the digital sphere. It also has many features that are similar Blackboard which will be familiar to any students who have taken online classes almost anywhere. These include a calendar that the teacher puts up and the ability to turn in assignments on the Edmodo site rather than being forced to turn them in during class.
The ability that both of the applications has to at least partially flip the class so that class time can be used in engaging and active learning makes them interesting and useful options in any learning setting. Although I am somewhat shy and introverted, I would definitely use Schooltube to create and upload lecture videos so that more of my class time can be spent engaged in active learning through deeper discussion or role play. I would also allow my students to use Schooltube as a way to engage in and communicate their pleasure and knowledge in what interests them whether it be about the subject we are learning in class or any other. Any time we can engage students in their interests and allow them to share those interests is a time where we build bridges and connections with others rather than push people away and create division. With Edmodo, I would create another place where the learning and engagement can continue after the class period is over or before it even begins helping students maintain and build their interest. I would also take advantage of the ability to use Edmodo for students to turn in assignments and ask advice on those assignments. The more time I can spend in class actively engaging in the material with my students, the more time we have to grow as a learning community with shared interests and goals which is just as vital in building bridges to today’s learners as giving space to their individual interests. It is after all all about connection.
Ito, Mizuko, Kris Gutiérrez, Sonia Livingstone, Bill Penuel, Jean
Rhodes, Katie Salen, Juliet Schor, Julian Sefton-Green, S. Craig
Watkins. 2013. Connected Learning: An Agenda for Research and
Design. Irvine, CA: Digital Media and Learning Research Hub.
Richardson, W. (2010). Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.