Enhancing Learning through Social Educational Networks

The other day, a teacher asked me how Edmodo could be “engaging” for students. My response at the time was less than eloquent, so I decided tits hare my thoughts blog-style. I feel so strongly that many (if not most) students can not only learn more deeply but be motivated to reach (if not exceed) their individual potential when online platforms are used effectively. But how? How does a teacher, new to social learning networks use one effectively? Below are some suggestions:

If they care about it, they are more likely to learn it. Ask your students to periodically write posts about topics and activities that appeal to them personally. For example, if a students describes himself as an “amateur song writer”, including the option to demonstrate learning through music will not only be motivating but will allow you insight into his learning that would not be revealed by the traditional bubble sheet or BCR. As you create assignments and activities, browse through the posts to gather topics for assignments and assessment ideas.

To maintain the belief that we can effectively motivate student learning by assigning a worksheet to complete is to fool oneself. Our kids choose to surround themselves with multimedia for entertainment, social interaction, as well as for learning. Use your online space to allow students to experience content in a more realistic (and desirable) way. Exposing students to learning opportunities that include visual, auditory, and linguistic media allows them to engage in deeper learning. Opportunities to examine topics through a combination of pictures, video, music, interactive websites and/or text leads to higher level analysis and deeper understanding by appealing to multiple intelligences and learning styles.

Creation and sharing of multimedia characterize students’ social interaction, entertainment and leisure time. Inspire success by allowing students various opportunities to create pictures, songs, video, websites etc. as demonstrations of their learning. Edmodo offers a safe educational platform where students can upload and share their creations to show what they know. Students struggling with content should choose the type of product they feel most comfortable creating to ensure that their trouble mastering content is not confused with difficulty creating the product. Design assignments to allow students to express their individual depth of understanding, not limited by traditional assessment methods where correct responses are pre-determined. Given the opportunity to express their learning in a more open-ended manner, students’ individual needs will be revealed and insight into how to help students forge ahead can be discovered.

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