2015 PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovator

2015 PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovator

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Learning is Social: Using Social Tools in Blackboard

"Get out your phone or tablet, take a picture of the quote you'd like to use, and send it to me with an explanation."

"What?  This my PHONE.  I use my phone to text my friends or take pictures of stuff I like.  I DON'T use it for school stuff."

I have this conversation with my students more times than I can count.  Even though I have an open BYOD policy in my classroom, and I encourage my students to use their phones to research and share information, the students are very reluctant to use a tool (the phone) that they consider purely social for academic purposes.  Today in the Social Learning session, led by Terry Patterson, Melissa Stange, and Francesca Monaco, I heard a statement that validated my struggle with getting students to use their phones for my class.  Francesca Monaco said that students want to network with their classmates, but they want a strict separation between their academic networks and their social networks.  I get very nervous when I think about students connecting online in a social network because of a requirement from my class because the minute a student posts to Facebook, Twitter, or Google + (yeah, that might happen) on behalf of my class, I feel responsible for what happens next.  I can't control those interactions, and I can't fully protect my students.  Students want to connect; what should I do?

This is where Blackboard Social Learning comes in.  Students and faculty post profiles in the tool, and they can use the search function to find groups that share their interests and concerns.  The tool offers profiles, walls (on which to post information), spaces for collaboration, and messaging, and the best part is that it is protected because you can monitor the interactions, something that would be very difficult to do in Facebook or Twitter.  Check out the video for more info:


Clay Shirky talked about using technology to make connections with the world around us, and I think the Social Learning Tool is a good way to teach students how to make and use these connections responsibly.



BbWorld Blogger 2013


Stephani Itibrout

Blended Learning Rhetoric and Composition


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