Controlled Social Networking for Student Collaboration

Above is my keynote presentation from eTech’s first Technology Spring Institute.  There’s no audio in the Slideboom deck.  They did video tape the presentation and will have it on iTunes with the audio.  If you saw the presentation, the concepts should come back to you quickly as you go through the slides. 

Delicious tag: http://delicious.com/atrusty/2010tsi

Technical notes: This was the first presentation I did using the beta of PowerPoint 2010.  For the first time my videos worked without any special tricks when I uploaded the PPTX file to Slideboom.  A great new feature in PPT2010 is video cropping.  I did this on all the videos, but Slideboom didn’t know how to handle it.  So you’ll see each video in its entirety.  The JFK video at the end also plays twice.  In my original deck, only the second one played.

For Discussion

I started this presentation with an attention grabbing video.  At first I was afraid of upsetting some of the attendees by the graphic nature of the video, but I thought the overall idea would add good perspective to the whole presentation.  You may have heard the story of a community who rescued three orphaned seals.  The community raised these seals from pups, nurtured them and sheltered them from the dangers of the outside world.  When the seals were old enough, the whole community celebrated their return to the wild by going down to the beach and having a “graduation party” of sorts.  That should help you understand the first video.

I wanted to establish a little perspective concerning social networking as it relates to other dangers faced by students.  You’ll see some news articles about teens killed in Facebook linked activities.  A few students were killed last year because they became too involved with the wrong people while using social networking.  This was trumpeted as a national tragedy and the responsible social networking sites were blamed.  Yet, when twenty students die in school bus related accidents in one year (that’s the national average), the NTSB proclaims school buses as one of the safest ways to travel.  800 teens died last year while driving to or from school.  EIGHT-HUNDRED!  That’s more than four for ever day of school.  Do we see a national push to get our high school students from behind the wheel and back on the bus?

We waste a lot of effort trying to keep our students off social networking sites instead of educating them on the proper use of these sites.  Take a look at the 21st century skills listed on slide number 121.  Many of these critical skills can only be mastered by using social networking tools.

In the end, I offered several, free tools which could be used to begin to educate our students about social networking without exposing them to the outside world.  These open source applications can be added to any school server and give students a chance to use services similar to Facebook, Delicious, Twitter and Flickr.  Using these resources in a “walled garden”, students could be introduced to social networking without the worry of unknown dangers lurking just off the shore.

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3 Responses to Controlled Social Networking for Student Collaboration

  1. Ryan Collins says:

    I meant to ask you what you used, since the transitions didn’t seem like ppt and I knew you weren’t using Keynote. :-)

    Great presentation too!

  2. John Rundag says:

    Wonderful presentation! In my district, we block Facebook and many sites that are comparable. I wish we could teach the students to use these sites responsibly, however we are experiencing cuts at this time. One of our technology teachers at the high school is retiring and it doesn’t look like the position will be filled. We are looking at ways that we can educate both the students and parents on social networking.

  3. Alvin Trusty says:

    With budgets cuts, it is more difficult to role out something completely new. Fortunately you can get started without buying additional software. There were several sessions at the TSI highlighting some of the free tools out there.

    Getting the parents involved adds some complexity. It is easy to firewall a private social network from the outside world, but when you permit parents to connect, you have to come up with a secure way of doing it. We give parents access to things like online grades, so it’s certainly do-able.

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