Monday, March 10, 2014

Week Seven Blog Post - Social Networking, Virtual Worlds, and Online Gaming

The social networking that I do is one of the most valuable pieces of my job.  I was turned on to Twitter a few years ago, and, while originally I saw no real value in it, I have since learned that being a connected educator is essential in this age.  The weekly chats that I have been a part of (#sschat most often, #pblchat and #ntchat less frequently) have helped me better serve my students and share resources with other teachers to help them become more connected. It is what Twitter has provided for me that has motivated to take this course and, eventually, work to earn a degree in Library/Media Studies.  I have found that I enjoy working with teachers to plan curriculum with a technological focus of some kind.  I saw this tweet come across my feed and realized that I could be the one to help bring as many teachers as possible into the 21st Century.
I would not be here without social networking.

I also feel that I need to teach my students the importance of being careful what they post on any social network that they are on.  I have worked hard to make sure that each of them has their blog space/web site so that if and when someone, either for college or a job, does a search for them on the web, they will have a positive presence.

That being said, I don't think that all social networks are equal.  By way of full disclosure, I do not have a Facebook page, nor do I want one.  There just seems to be far too much posting and liking of things that do not interest me or make me better personally or professionally.  Are there things that are interesting in passing?  Sure.  But, I believe that Twitter serves my needs far better than Facebook ever could.

I also do not understand the fascination with virtual worlds.  I have watched my son play minecraftedu and either he does not truly understand what he is supposed to do or I don't.  I watched as he played at a friend's house recently and saw him build a pool for ocelots that he went on to put a roof over so they couldn't get out.  When I asked him why he did that, he wasn't really sure, but he said he had fun with it.  I know that there are games for all sorts of things, but I couldn't see how this was helping him beyond the creativity factor.

On-line gaming has its place in the world of education, but I don't know about those multiplayer games.  I love and mission:us and love encouraging my students to play them.  When I introduced to my sophomore classes a couple of years ago, I watched in awe as the boys played the games and I don't think they realized that they were learning along the way.  Giving them scores to reach in those games in order to earn some kind of formative assessment points only encourages them to be a part of the experience.  It has been a great discovery and one that I hope continues to grow.

I do get nervous, however, about some of the more violent multiplayer games as I feel it desensitizes our students to the violence they see around them everyday.  Those graphics in those games are so realistic that I think some students have a hard time separating fantasy from reality.

Overall, we need to make sure that we are helping our students navigate through their on-line worlds, be there social networking, virtual worlds, or gaming.  They are going to make mistakes, but if we can walk them more gently through the process, eventually they will learn.

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