In my introduction post, I mentioned some social networking issues I'm having as an education professor and was intrigued and excited by the responses. It was suggested by Anne, that I create a New Discussion about the topic, so here goes...

I'm a college professor that teaches future teachers how to integrate technology. For a couple years, I've been teaching my students the awesome world of Blogs, Wikis, and other 2.0-related technologies, not just how to use them, but how to integrate them effectively as a teacher. However, even though they are digital natives of social networking, my students don't seem to recognize the educational implications. They don't see it, and the effective integration typically has never been modeled for them, (and I'm pretty sure I'm not helping very much). In addition, trying to take "I'm a student" thinking individuals and convert them into "I'm a teacher" thinking individuals in regards to social networking in education has been a battle that I seem to lose more often than I win.

Having said that, I'm looking for ways, places, sites, etc., that can lead me to better, more effective methods of teaching future teachers how to integrate social networking. I'm looking for ways to, at the very least, model the effective uses. This site, along with Ning in Education and others, may just be the place, the way, the site, for which I've been searching.

What do you think about pre-service teachers' skills and knowledge regarding social networking, as well as pre-service education on the same topic? I would love to read your comments, suggestions, and experiences.

 ~ John

Tags: pd, pedagogy, socialnetworking

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Hi John,

I teach the same group and actually teach my course in ning. I have the students use the tool as our classroom space and have them find a ning site in their content area to share with the class. Students have to evaluate the level at which the use of the tool (let's say to teach math) is effective. Researching effective teaching uses of ning seems to help. students can find various samples of pages etc.

I also have them build a wiki portfolio to share with each other to build upon a unit plan--each student has to contribute a lesson to the portfolio that helps meet the ISTE standards (big project). They post their units in a wiki-portfolio I integrate into ning.

I agree that while they understand how to use the tools, they just don't think critically about the implications if such tools in the classroom. I try to address this by making the students think about the problems with ning in terms of teaching, parents, the administraton, etc.

If you are teaching this summer--or if anyone who has been posting, perhaps we can build a shared site for our students to talk about teaching etc. a community of pre-service teachers.

what do you think?
I would love to to look at your course ning.
Here is a link to my website and course site as well as student website portfolios. These are all pre-service teachers.
course site:
Click on Student website to access the portfolio website.
Hi John,
I'd like to share a few ideas here although I've never taught pre-service teachers.
1. First I'll share. I have presented to pre-service teachers before and I have some links I'd like to share.
This includes my 'The Rant, I Can't, the Elephant and the Ant' presentation I did to pre-service teachers and my newest addition to these links, Cindy Quach's look at effectively using collaboration tools.
2. On the topic of collaboration, I think most of these 'digital natives' we talk about are very good at connecting to socialize and communicate with their peers, but not to collaborate and learn.
3. Digital collaboration is not intuitive and collaboration roles are context and purpose driven, not general in nature. Thus, learning intentions, purpose and expectations for collaboration need to be explicit or the contributor's role in sharing and contributing isn't clear. If these things aren't clear, then how do I as a contributor add meaningful value?
4. 'Ownership' is key. I had a ning network for Grade 10 Planning and it was teacher-driven until I opened up the forum for them to generate some topics, suddenly the site came alive. The topics varied from important issues, to favourite hockey teams, to a lively debate on whether 'boys are better than girls'... but what happened after that was that the students started sharing more on each other's blogs and class discussions.
With student teachers, I would think that generating the content of the site would be as important, or perhaps more important than with any other group since, as mentioned here many times, you want them to see themselves as teachers.
Hope this helps!

I had the pleasure of attending your presentations and BLC last summer. I learned a ton from you. I would love to schedule you to do a video conference with my summer class if at all possible. If you are interested, let me know and we will figure out what works. (Kansas State University)
I hope to see you at BLC again this year:-)
I'll contact you and perhaps we can make something work for this summer... it would be an honour!
I've been to your course site a few times:
What an amazing resource for ALL teachers.
Unfortunately, will not be at BLC this summer. I am so bummed!! Budget problems and no money for travel this year at KSU!! Since you have been in, any suggestions for anything I should add!! Always looking for ways to improve it. It is just a one hours class, but next fall have succeeded in getting it moved to a two hour time slot, so will double the face time with my students. I am looking forward to that for sure!! I am hoping some of the BLC sessions will be streamed or at least available after the conference.
I think this discussion group might even consider holding an online meeting on this topic--maybe for I love to help you drill down on this topic!
I think that is a delightful idea, would love to be involved and help!!
I ended up writing a post about this. I've added the additional ideas below so there is no need to go to the post itself. Thanks for making me think and contributing to my learning!


Reflecting now, I think my last point is incorrect:

We want ALL learners to see themselves as teachers and contributors to the learning… content creators.

A google document is a collaborative tool, but I’ve been a contributor to many such documents where others have not, and I have also been a non-contributor on a few. Putting a class on a google document does not necessarily make the process collaborative: It can create a group of contributors, participants, editors, and lurkers, but should we call that collaboration in any meaningful way, just because there is the potential for collaboration? What is the intent, purpose and expectations for the learners and contributors?How are they accountable for their contributions?

Things have changed and we need to change to. As I said in my comment on Cindy Quach’s post:

You said it well, “Most writing that is published electronically is, by nature, works in progress.”…A work in progress that can be collaborated on, linked to, added to, and elaborated on. What I really like about the differences in your three examples is that the roles of the contributors vary, and inadvertently you are teaching your students to understand that they can meaningfully contribute with and to others in different ways. A necessary skill in a new world of literacy and technology.

On a related topic, how important is the process in collaboration? I think the quality of the collaboration can be just as important as the quality of the finished product of that collaboration… but often the expectations for how to meaningfully participate/contribute/collaborate aren’t clearly defined, and seldom assessed. If we want to see, and teach, meaningful collaboration then we have to know what it is that we want to see, and clearly define that for our students.

If you know of any assignments or projects that clearly define the collaboration process, and/or assess that process, then please share them with me.
Hi John,
The light switched on when I did my distance Computer Science degree. Yes, well it was a WebCT framework - but there I had to pick up my assignments, post my assignments, but most usefully of all, we had to participate in the bulletin boards/discussions etc. So I discovered the value of an on-line community (mostly task based) and was keen to see affordable platforms that could be used. Over the last two years, I've used a Ning with my Senior College students - and they've had to participate, by posting an assignment draft as a blog, and commenting (usefully) on at least three colleagues' drafts.
Nearly all completed the required contributions, most posted more, becasue they got involved in the others' projects. I think the only solution to geting them to use such structures is to get them to use such structures. (The draconian "you can't satisfactorily complete this unit without - (eg) building a Wiki on Web 2.0 mathematics tools - resources, tutorials and reviews." Post a reading, and require comments/discussion/evaluation contribution of additional readings/research/experience. etc.)

For me, I'd seen the possibilities (because I had to) - even with WebCT. I'd trialled some virtual meeting software with my computer class (didn't work well) But when I was connected to Ning - thanks Will Richardson, Steve Hargadon and Connie Weber - I was ready to implement because I had the platform to do it.

So, in case I'm not clear - make your students use these tools educationally. Mine very quickly made the jump from the social networking dimension to collaborative work. (What I'm still not good at is being a very assiduous presence, who rewards responses with rapid replies! Typical in my paper world too, if you must know!)

Hope this helps!
Last fall, my content area reading students collaborated with students at Arizona State University via a Wiki. I wanted my students to see the potential of using Web 2.0 tools instructionally, so I set one up [in about 5 minutes] and we all learned about it together. Each group of students had a field placement component of the class, and both professors required four reflections on their experiences in the fiels, guided by the same questions. Students posted their reflections on the Wiki and were required to respond to a student from the other university - due dates for postings and replys were collaboratively set by the students at ASU and Clemson [CU]. CU students posted an assessment they had created and ASU students provided feedback on them; ASU students posted lesson plans and CU students provided feedback on the lesson plans. It was a great experience - but we were all learners in the effort.

When I say we learned together, I mean just that. When the CU students posted their strategic content literacy assessments, they didn't adhere to the naming convention I requried for their digitally uploaded work, and because they used the same file names the files began to overwrite one another. It was chaos for about a day or so - but it also pointed out the importance of having unique names for their files.

That's a long way to say I think you'd be ahead of the game if you actually used the Web 2.0 tools in your own teaching. I keep a blog [] that students can comment on - it serves as a "model" for their own reflections, which were kept online on the Wiki. Since you probably have a situation close to mine [I have students in my course from a wide variety of majors] you might have them create a Wiki or a Ning for a particular content area - they could create a resource to use with their own students one day, so it would outlive your own course.

Hi John

I have just read your discussion thread and found the issues you are having are interesting. I am a pre-service teacher currently in my final year of my undergraduate degree. I am located in Queensland, Australia and study through the University of Queensland (USQ). I might also mention that I am considered a mature age student (I don't consider myself that mature) therefore I am a "digital immigrant" and realise that I need to work hard to keep up to date with the digital natives.

What I have found intriguing about the comments that have been posted so far is that with your younger students that you are teaching it was discussed that they are unable to to see the value of integrating social networking tools into their classrooms. Is this due (as mentioned in an earlier part of the thread) to them being digital natives? Do they regard the tools not as tools but as integral to their lives?

I have found that students at USQ mature age and younger all are very willing to try to include all types of integration of new technologies into their professional experience classrooms. There is a government backed "digital revolution for schools" currently being rolled out by a relatively new government, therefore there is a renewed enthusiasm by schools and educators for new technologies and new ideas. Students also realise the need in Australian schools to integrate technology into the classroom and that the current genration are the ones that will use these technologies to live and work. However, the technological hardware in schools is lacking somewhat, hence the initiative from the government.

I look forward to reading more on this discussion and any comments anyone has.

Good luck




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