- When does the Internet help your learning? When does it distract from good learning for you?
- How might your answers to these questions be similar to or different from the answers your students might give?
- How might you support your students in using the Internet as their own personal learning space?
The internet is a wonderful place, full of new ideas and new connections! It is also an amazing procrastination helper. I utilize Boolean search, websites, RSS feeds, and my social and professional networks to expand my learning. I do tend to keep my professional and personal networks separate. I use Twitter, RSS feeds, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+ and Edmodo for my professional learning networks. Facebook I use primarily for my personal network, although there is some crossover. (I manage my gym’s social networking presence, so I’m on Facebook quite a bit because of that position.)
Typically, the internet serves as a distractor when I decide to check Facebook or Pinterest for “just a minute” before beginning my work. A half hour later, I’m usually still perusing links that people posted on Facebook rather than working on the assigned task. For me, I have to “ban myself” from Facebook until I’ve completed that task. Otherwise, I go off on tangents and it takes me twice as long to complete the original task. It can also help immensely, as I can pose questions to my learning networks and leverage the knowledge and experience of hundreds of educators, rather than relying solely on my knowledge. When I have the opportunity, I feel like I learn the most when I am able to take part in the real-time conversations through #edchat or #sschat or #edtech.
If this question was posed to my students, I think that their answers would be different from mine. Most of them also agree that Facebook can be distracting, but few of them have fully utilized their social networks as learning networks. In part, this is due to their perception of social networking, but also due to district filtering policies. Students cannot access Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etcetera while at school. All social networking apps are blocked in our district, which leads students to believe that networking and learning are separate. When I started using Edmodo with my students, many of them began to leverage our “group” on Edmodo as part of their learning network. They would post questions about homework or project assignments to the group, and often these questions would be answered before I even had a chance to reply. This network is still not ideal, because students cannot connect with other students on an individual basis.
I can support my students in using the Internet for their personal learning by continuing to model and demonstrate effective ways to use the Internet for learning. I can model how I use my networks for learning, model and teach effective ways to research using online resources. I can continue to teach and discuss digital citizenship as well. Hopefully, the conversation will continue in our district and we will be able to change the current ban on social networking apps(for students).