Blogging and Twitter
When I was teaching at Orewa College we introduced Twitter and blogging to our learners. I began using Twitter with the intention of it being a back channel to ask questions in class. However, my learners were a little immature and were soon making silly comments about each other so I had to press pause and reflect on how to proceed. I put a stop to the in class use of Twitter as I was concerned about it getting out of hand and becoming a cyber-bullying issue. Blogging was introduced soon after and we realised that it would be a great way of publishing learning that could be shared with families, both local and overseas. An integral part of blogging is commenting on blog posts so our learners needed guidance on how to do this positively. Often learners are not aware that they are cyber-bullying as they think that ‘everyone does it’. It was important to teach them that this was not normal or responsible behaviour.
The Code of Ethics for Certified Teachers explains that we should:
Teach and model those positive values which are widely accepted in society and encourage learners to apply them and critically appreciate their significance.
I realised that my learners would not be prepared for participating in a mature manner online if I did not teach them how to behave appropriately. I used the following slide show to teach them Netiquette. By explicitly teaching netiquette we were able to teach positive values that are good, not only for blogging, but for life in general.
As a teacher, my responsibilities at Orewa College included:
Maintaining a high standard of behaviour in the class, so that all students can access the Internet and use their devices safely and to the best advantage educationally.
After teaching Netiquette, I saw an improvement in the online behaviour of my learners. Their interaction on twitter became more positive and the comments on their classmates’ blogs were in the form of a ‘compliment sandwich’. My learners enjoyed giving and receiving comments and the conversations created.
Blogging and the whanau
Some parents questioned the use of social media and we were able to explain the value of publishing learning on line. Our learners made more effort in creating quality posts when they knew they would possibly have a global audience. Reflecting on their learning was another valuable reason to blog and being able to comment positively and give feedback on each others’ blogs was also a positive. Many parents did not realise how social media could be used to enhance learning.
We explained that Netiquette was taught as we were aware of our responsibility to “teach and model positive values” and to “maintain a high standard of behaviour in the class…” It was important to have the conversation with parents and to explain our reasons for doing this as they often did not understand the value of this style of social learning. Once they heard our reasons and saw their child’s blog they were mostly happy about it.
When we had our parent evenings I was able to ask the parents whether they had seen their child’s blog or not. Most of the time they hadn’t so I was able to show them and then explain what learning had taken place. Every parent I spoke to loved seeing their child’s blog and was very positive about it.
1. Code of ethics for certified teachers (n.d.) Retrieved from https://educationcouncil.org.nz/content/code-of-ethics-certificated-teachers-0
2. Responsible Use (2011) Retieved from http://www.orewa.school.nz/uploaded/file/downloads/Responsible%20Use%20ICT%20Devices1.pdf