Monday, November 28, 2011

Embracing Social Technology

In the article 3 Ways Educators Are Embracing Social Technology, a description of the uses of three social technologies are explored in the context of classroom application. The use of Skype, Mobile Phones, and Twitter in the classroom provides a few examples of how Educators can effectively utilize social technologies.

Take a few moments to answer a few of the following questions in a comment to this blog post.


  • The article states that “budget cuts have caused ballooning class sizes,” thus Educators have attempted to utilize technology to engage students. Is this an effective approach?
  •  How can Educators and Universities effectively use technology with such a vast range of devices?
  •  Is there an expectation that all students be familiar with and have access to technology. Is this assumption correct or should there be steps to combat technology issues (Student Technology Support)?
  •  How should Educators deal with “distracting technologies”? Is incorporating technology an effective way to eliminate the distraction?
  • What are your opinions on the way Educators used the three technologies? (Skype, Mobile Phones, Twitter)
  • Are there different approaches or technologies that would have been more effective in these situations?
  • How can other social software be integrated into a classroom?


  1. The use of technology in the classroom as it is discusses in the article does assume that all students are familiar with the technologies discussed and have access to them. I do not think access is a problem particularly if the software being used is freely available online, as Skype and Twitter are. Familiarity with the software might be more of an issue although this could be addressed fairly easily with some training and preparation on the students' part.

    In response to the concern about distracting technologies, I would argue that some technologies are naturally more distracting than others, by virtue of pop-ups images or sounds. However, technology truly becomes distracting when students allow themselves to be distracted. If social software were used as a tool in the classroom, students would need to be aware of their responsibilities to use the software solely for the purpose of learning.

  2. 1. I believe it is an effective approach to engage students because today we rely on the Internet for means of communication and information. By using this technology, educators are meeting students where they are comfortable.
    2. Incorporating technology can be distracting but by incorporating technology and monitoring its use can be an effective way of using it in the classroom. Students will always find a way to be distracted.
    3. Social software can be implemented into a classroom by using it to get results from students by using surveys, blogs, distributing mass information, and allowing use of Internet for research.

  3. -Utilizing technology to engage students definitely can be an effective approach, especially with large groups. However, it may not always be the most effective approach. For instance, using technology in a large group may cause some students to lose interest and feel disconnected.
    -I think educators and universities can effectively use technology by making sure that all devices can be used together. When all the options are interconnected, students might have a more well-rounded experience.
    -There is such an expectation here at DePauw, but there shouldn't be expectations at other colleges where students may not have the same opportunities. There should always be some kind of place where students can go to learn more about technology. If students are willing to take the initiative to learn more, they should have access to technology education.
    -It's really tough (and almost impossible, in my opinion) to combat distracting technologies. A good way to do this is to limit the options students have to become distracted. For instance, blocking Facebook and similar sites, while bothersome for students, is often effective.
    -Using Skype to develop foreign language skills is an excellent idea. I actually wish I had done something similar in my own Spanish classes! I wasn't as impressed with educators' uses of mobile phones and Twitter though, because in my opinion they don't allow for as much detail or thorough responses.
    -In these situations, especially in the cases of Twitter and mobile phones, having a class discussion would have been more effective. So much more can be added to the conversation when facial expressions and gestures are considered.
    -Something I think would be effective is combining the use of social media with interpersonal communication. For instance, a class could have a discussion...then later that night, students could have the chance to post online about how they thought the conversation went, and anything else they wanted to say but didn't have the chance.

  4. 1. I would say that with the given circumstances, this is an effective approach. Budget cuts are inevitable with economic changes, and there is little that can be done about them. Money can't just magically appear to solve these problems. Using social technology to work as effectively as possible is making the best of a bad situation.
    2. I would say that using a range of devices isn't difficult at all. All that is required is for an account to be made for something and for regular posts to be sent out through the devices.
    5. Skype is definitely the most effective of these three, and I've used it before. I still am in contact with a friend in costa rica who was learning english as I was learning spanish, and its been a great experience. Mobile phones i disagree with. I think that although they may have technologies that can aid students, their potential for distraction and to simply move to games rather than doing work is too high for them to be effective learning instruments. Twitter im really ambivalent to. I had a teacher use it, but in all honesty there was no reason for him to not just post what he wanted to say in a text document. I also found that you cannot communicate complex ideas in 140 characters, meaning it was limited in its use.

  5. I think the new advancements in social software are great tools for reaching students of larger class sizes. By having information and forums accessible online, Educators are working to ensure that all students are being reached and their questions are being asked. Another great thing about technology is that many of the sites used in classrooms are free so it benefits both students and the university.
    Technology is a tool that has a wide range of uses. These uses can be utilized effectively by universities, but it can also lead to misuse my students. I think by narrowing the range of outlets a university uses could help in preventing students from abusing the programs. I think it is best for Educators to avoid major social networking sites like facebook because it does provide so much temptation for students. Blogging sites and other discussion based programs can provide a more focused environment for students to participate in. I don't see the variety of devices as the main issue for Educators. The more ways a student can access the material, the better. I think it is the variety of programs available that will cause the most distress. There are some programs that should remain strictly for social uses because trying to combine social and educational in one site may become too confusing. I think it's important for their to be a division between the two worlds.

  6. The use of technology in the classroom is long overdue. The article had discussed how some schools are issuing a school-wide ban on cell phone usage. This ban is a distraction from learning, as students will inevitably use the technology anyway, and a step away from a new approach to learning. The ability to use Skype in a foreign language class is a huge step beyond the textbook and into practicality. There are more uses for many technologies that we have access to, we just have to find the proper way to use them to inspire students.