April 19, 2014
Social networking sites are a lot more than a platform for staying connected with friends and family. Social media gives us the opportunity to reach out and make a difference not just to people you know but to the world. As an educator, I have used the social media platforms to reach out to students across the world. But before you decide on how you want to use it, and how effectively you should use it, here are a few points to keep in mind.
- You need to develop important social media skills required in today’s world
- You need to prepare students for the world of social media
- Social media gives opportunity to give feedback to individual students
- It is an easy way to communicate and connect with parents
- It is useful for gathering and sharing resources
- It helps give a shy student a voice
The last advantage is extremely important as shy students in class hardly get to voice their opinions, ask questions or state points, they do not participate in classroom discussions. They usually just sit in one corner of the class. Such students prefer written communication. Therefore, social media will be the best platform for them to communicate with the rest of the class and teachers.
A few “do’s and don’ts”
- Do not create personal accounts, stick to classroom accounts
- Provide the students with resources but make sure that this does not become the only place for resources
- Do provide students with feedback they require but don’t follow them
- Do not leave the classroom social media unsupervised but do create a class contract
- Do teach your students about digital citizenship
PLN or Personal Learning Network helps you grow. Here’s what it does:
- Connects like-minded teachers
- Helps find resources beyond the clutches of Google
- Helps in answering and asking questions
How to improve PLN?
- Share resources
- Follow and be followed by others
- Join chats related to education
- Share the resources of others
- Take part in discussions online
A school’s account on social media is extremely effective and sharing resources as a school account is powerful. These accounts are also popular. These accounts can be used by teachers to share resources with students, give them information on upcoming events, holidays and various other activities. Teachers can also make things interesting by mixing learning with entertainment.
Platforms you can use
Pinterest: You can use this platform to create and share pictorial resources with your students
Facebook: This is the most popular platform you can use. You can create groups to share resources, create assignments designed like events, etc.
I believe, that with social media, you can help your students a lot in an interactive, fun and enthusiastic manner. Social media in classrooms should be introduced for the benefit of students and teachers.
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African continent is somewhat lacking its necessary developments in education. In Uganda, the Prime Minister, Amama Mbabazi, recently commented upon some of the issues to educational advancement. But his views are quite insufficient to tackle the issues regarding unequal education and less competent graduates.
As per his announcement, the Government is planning to set up seed schools, and distribute computers in rural secondary schools. But, the shortcoming of his plan lies in the absence of sufficient initiatives to link such distribution programme to the skill developments among those students.
Superficial Measures Needs Attentive Reconsideration
The problem factor cannot be overcome by such distribution of computers, or minor increase in teacher’s salaries. Rather, actual understanding of root issues that plays behind the substandard education in Uganda need to address. Prime Minister should realise the demands of current economy, and plan all round reformation in the country’s education system which is grossly disconnected towards what the time’s expectations are.
There are systematic as well as multi-dimensional problems which need immediate attention. For example, the working conditions for teachers, including their pay scales need to be improved. Investments have to be made with a good amount from the government. The countries that have made remarkable developments in education like the UK, the US etc should be intensively followed in this respect.
Selection of Teaching Faculty Requires Modification
Standard of education depends at large on teaching faculty. But, mainly two types of candidates pursue this career – those who are really passionate about this profession, or those who do not have any other option than this. To meet the expected developments, modification in teacher selection process would be the most vital step. And, also it should be made sure that they can work in a better and more amicable condition, which includes much higher salaries that currently they get.
Curriculums should Fuel Creativity
Then, a substantial reformation needs to be done in learning environments. Curriculum must have to be designed in accordance with 21st century needs. Instead of a flat curriculum for any course, improvements have to be implemented in critical thinking skills, problem solving and analysis, communication skills, and, last but not the least, self-initiative. Improvement on these areas can bring about successful innovation, creativity and workforce productivity.
Curriculum must ignite learners’ imagination, their thirst for creativity and analysing the world with a broader perspective. To this end, classroom size must be small so that teachers can instructors can invest more personal attention to their students.
Career Prospects Need Focus
Above all, curriculum should be designed in such a way that might help students develop real-life skills, with which they can enhance their career possibilities. So, parallel to theoretical lesson they need to be introduced to various project-based learning, which will give them fair idea about different industries and skills they need to acquire to shine in any respective career.
In many developed countries, ways of teaching and learning have been freed from the physical boundaries of classrooms. With the employment of online technologies, education there has given enough flexibility and mobility to engage their huge potentiality into industrial involvements alongside their studies.
If Uganda really wants to see a better tomorrow through its educational developments, the government must have to take such substantial steps that can actually meet the standard of the world and expectations of the time. Honest effort to this end can surely make the country achieve this goal.
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