Monday 2 April 2012


Sunday morning was the night after the Show and Tell on the Saturday night (a whole post on that to follow at a later date) but the lure of Jose Picardo talking about social media in education was strong enough to see a full house at an early hour on the second day of the conference.

José started off by pointing out that the new tecnologies being used in some classrooms is comparable to reaction of society with the advent of post boxes, pencils, etc The same can be said re the use of internet and it isn’t going anywhere. Yet in this day and age, many teachers are pedagogically unconvinced of the benefits of the internet.

The first point to bear in mind is that our pupils still need to be taught how to use the technologies. Bear in mind that it is perfectly alright to learn along with your students, points out José. Do not be friends with your pupils on Facebook as you are exposing yourself and them to unacceptable risk. However it is good to have school and/or departmental pages.

José moved on to talk about "the people formerly known as the audience" As teachers, we need to bear in mind that they have editing suites in their pockets and that we do them a disservice if we ban mobile phones, given that we are then abandoning them to their own fate. The benefits of using the pupils' mobiles, etc, are that these are free tools for the school so there is no financial investment. As José asks, were we that different when we were young? Same behaviour, different tools...

In Jose's school, phones are allowed, with 6th years hooking into the school wifi on their own devices. The school recognises that there is a need to avoid inappropriate behaviour of course but that pupils are more likely to be bullied in the school corridor or on the bus. By banning mobile phones, schools are ensuring that pupils use them on their own without guidance and without rules of practice.

As a profession, teachers themselves not always good at using social networking appropriately but we are learning as we go. José comments that we are not too far from considering social media as normal in education, and teaching is evolving to catch up with learning

A key question is if we should we teach ICT in schools or if it should be embedded in the curriculum through other subjects? There is a new skill set coming up and currently pupils are having to learn by themselves. José is not advocating giving up on all that is going on in your classroom, by any means. Social media can be used to knock down the school walls and bridge the gap between home and school. Yes, there is a lot of inappropriate material on the net but they are fully exposed to that at home so by ignoring that, we are sticking our fingers in our ears.
Possibilities include:
• Learning on demand eg VLEs
• Voki was never designed for education but has been used for that purpose
• Blog
• Comments on peer assessment
• Blog on trip
• Flickr page
• Learning environment
• Twitter
• Facebook
• Edmodo

This was a great keynote, lots of food for thought for those of us who still have a long way to go before we reach the point in the road that José's school has got to, but with the promise that we should all get there, hopefully sooner rather than later..
And to end on a silly note... Alas, as we all went into near-hysteria at the thought of the impending pronunciation of 'Edmodo', José taunted us and refused to say it. However, the canny Zena Hilton saw us right, and a roomful of females swooned as the bashful Sr Picardo said 'the word' It was worth coming to Southampton just for that!

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