Despite all of the challenges facing modern educators, there’s never been a more exciting time than now to be an educator. Today’s technology gives us collaborative opportunities that we’ve never had before. We’re now a global community and using technology to implement social learning through collaborative applications has never been easier.
What is “social learning?”—
Social learning is using social media and social technology platforms in the classroom or online to foster collaboration and augment learning through peer interaction. Keep in mind that social learning is different than social learning theory, which is using social cognitive theory to form student behavior. However, they do have two things in common: learning by observing others and mutually influencing others. Social learning is being able to leverage knowledge and experience; it adds nitro to the glycerin of online sharing. The online classroom is already set up with the platform for collaboration, but using social apps augments this; it's a natural step in the online learning process. To embrace social learning is to embrace the new era of academic instruction!
Apps for collaboration and social learning—
Social bookmarking sites are excellent to use in the classroom because they allow you to mark, organize and share with anyone. Two sites that are good for this are Diig.com and Delicious.com. Educause Review has a good explanation of both as well as how to use them in the classroom. Backed by the Gates Foundation, the app called the Khan Academy provides free access to thousands of tutorial videos which can be viewed on demand. KA gives teachers an online toolkit, sees them as “coaches” and encourages contributions from both teachers and students, which benefits the collective. Perhaps one of the best known sites providing collaboration apps is Google, with its Google Apps for Education. With Google Apps, sharing and compatibility are made simple, whether you use Google docs, sites, groups or extensible APIs (for integration). Google also provides you with detailed sharing and compatibility are made simple, whether you use Google docs, sites, groups or extensible APIs (for integration). Google also provides you with detailed tutorials on how to use its apps.
An educational technology site to follow is EmergingEdTech.com. This site provides a free downloadable 65 page eBook containing education technology resources and ideas for using social technology in the classroom. Just click on the link at the top of the page and follow the sign-up instructions for a quick and easy download. EmergingEdTech provides an extensive list of apps that you can use in the classroom and online on its page discussing reverse instruction. The International Society for Technology in Education, or ISTE.org, provides educators and students with technology standards for every population. The ISTE site can give you guidance on using technology and apps in the classroom.
You collaborate daily as a professional and you need to ensure that your students learn effective collaboration as well. Their collaboration and social app skills will only need to increase as they continue their educational careers. Modeling the proficient use of collaborative and social apps is your responsibility as an educator.
Given current technology and faced with today’s educational challenges, there’s no excuse for you NOT to be using applications that foster collaboration and social learning, both online and in the classroom. Additionally, there are thousands of online resources that are at your disposal, and most of them are free. To access any of the resources and apps discussed here, simply click on the hyperlink. This is an exciting time to be using social learning, so have fun!
This article was written by Karl Stockton for the team at kendall.edu. For those interested in colleges in Chicago, contact Kendall for information on colleges in Chicago, Illinois.
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