ISTE Standard 2: Communication and collaboration
It has become apparent through my internship placement how value face-to-face class time is to educators. There are high expectations to teach content, prepare students for the next level and reach desired learning targets. With these certain expectations for progression, time allocated for communication and collaboration can be minimal. That being said, it is important that students develop these vital skills. Fortunately, technology presents opportunities for students to continue conversations outside of the classroom and practice useful skills that align with education and the relevance of technology in today’s society.
My mentor teacher and I currently utilize and integrate the online platform Schoology. We use Schoology for students to interact with one another and assists in the development of ISTE Standard 2. According to “Blogging in the 21st Century,” Lampinen (2013) states, “Benefits extend beyond the classroom. Introverted students tend to share more online than they do in person; blogging is an invaluable way for me to get to know them better as people and students.” This pedagogical approach allows students who may be hesitant to share in class to express themselves through writing. Though our format varies from the free response model, students develop writing, collaborative and communication skills. Students answer guided questions about the current text we are studying and respond to each other to create open dialogue channels. This is comparable to the course format students may experience in higher education, similar to this class. This also allows us to evaluate students’ analytical skills in smaller sample sizes rather than depending on formal essays. Schoology has a layout similar to Facebook, which I believe students find accessible and easy to navigate. Students partake in collaboration, which before these platforms became available, was hard to enhance outside the classroom.
Although Schoology is useful for collaboration, students typically do not check Schoology unless they are working on blog posts. It is for this reason that I wanted to find additional online resources that would increase teacher-student communication outside the classroom through a professional and convenient digital platform. I recently heard students mention, and praise, other teachers at my internship placement who use Remind. I explored the Remind web site and learned about some of the useful tools it has to offer. First off, the program allows teachers to send messages to students and parents without exchanging personal information. This is always my number one concern with communication outside of the classroom, and Remind is designed for teachers to maintain the highest level of professionalism. I considered making Remind optional for students who would appreciate reminders regarding assignments.
In addition, I explored Celly, which is a technology similar to Remind, but offers additional features. Celly maintains the same level of privacy and layout, but seems to have additional tools that Remind lacks. For example, teachers can send polls to get instant feedback. One aspect of Celly that I found particularly interesting was the capability to have “open chat with parents or fellow educators.” For students who are struggling across several classes, teachers and parents could collaborate periodically regarding progress and concerns. This “open chat” seems more conversational than email, which I believe can feel impersonal to some parents.
Finally, I looked at all these methods through the lens of constructivism, which I believe is essential in an English classroom. In “The Nature of Knowledge and the Implications of Teaching” by Bates (2015), he states, “Social constructivists believe that this process works best through discussion and social interaction, allowing us to test and challenge our own understandings with those of others.” This reaffirms our utilization of Schoology for facilitating dialogue outside of class. In contrast, I presented the idea of incorporating Remind or Celly to our sixth-period class. Students instinctively jumped at the idea of having text messages sent to them daily with reminders for assignments. As we discussed the different options, I started to shift my stance on the incorporation of such technologies. I view my responsibility as an educator to challenge students and prepare them for the next academic level. Sending daily reminders for assignments is not equipping students with needed organizational skills. Students must be responsible for their own learning and by removing that accountability, in my eyes, does them an injustice as developing young adults. On the other hand, the exploration of these reminder systems was important; I have decided to leave the responsibility of education in the hands of students. This module has confirmed my confidence in the use of Schoology and prompts my commitment to continually look for opportunities to increase its role in our class.
Below is the layout for Schoology:
Bates, A. W. (n.d.). The nature of knowledge and the implications for teaching. In Teaching in a digital age (2). Retrieved from http://opentextbc.ca/teachinginadigitalage
Lampinen, M. (2013). Blogging in the 21st-century classroom. Edutopia. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/blogging-in-21st-century-classroom-