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A weblog designed to share Geography resources with students and colleagues

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Sending words around the world - a response to using social media in teaching #tmayr

Categories: Geography General, Other

I attended a teachmeet event recently. It was my first time at one. There were a range of speakers from a variety of different backgrounds. I learned some new things, remembered some old things and got to meet some people in the flesh for the first time, make new contacts and catch up with some old ones. One of the things which became clear early in the evening was the fact that social media is slowly finding its way into classrooms. There were presentations talking about using youtube channels, facebook and the compere, Bill Boyd, was vocal in promoting the value of building networks through these means, especially twitter. It was almost inevitable, then, that twitter would find its way into a presentation too. It's too flexible a tool not to be of use to the teaching profession. Stuart Hepburn of the UWS was explaining how it had been used to communicate with students in an interesting and novel way. For further education institutes, I think this has great potential, but during the presentation in the twitter backchannel at #tmayr , I commented that educators were perhaps missing a trick in not using it to create connections for their classrooms. Last week, in our S1 class taught by my colleague, Mr Marshall, there was a perfect example of what I meant,
Al Humphreys and an S2 class of last year at St Ninians had chatted live while Al was with the Catlin Arctic Survey. Through both Al and Jamie Buchanan Dunlop (on this years trip), we were able to do the same again through a dedicated Marr geography twitter account. The class were studying environmental issues and the scientists were studying one of the most fragile environments on earth. Despite a small hiccup, the communication was instant, encouraged curiosity in the students and gave them a real experience of the geography that they are learning about. Please take a look at our twitter account for the detail. The students are now working on an arctic climate survival exercise based on their responses. It is one of a number of link ups which have facilitated, I would hope, not just deeper understanding but a better appreciation of the subject and the students experiences within it. From using farmers as a sounding board for questions at the start of a standard grade, sourcing questions from around the world for students to respond to on volcanoes to bringing other educators into our class discussions on place, there are a world of ways to use twitter to improve your classroom.


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