Tag Archives: network

Social networking etiquette and other 6th grade life lessons

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Last week, I introducted the 6th grade to our internal social network creatively entitled, The Social Network. This is the fifth year we’ve used an in-house solution powered by Elgg. We archive the previous year’s work, upgrade to the latest version of Elgg, and start with a new blank space every year. Not only does this free the server manager from the drudgery of importing the old stuff onto a new system, it reinforces that a social network is only as valuable as the information its users freely include and share. As Don Buckley, the Director of Innovation at The School at Columbia University, will tell you, a social network is populated with the following information: Who are you? Who are your friends? What do you do?

The 6th graders were really excited to join in, and we had a pretty great 30-minute discussion about appropriate information to include in a digital profile and how to behave online, especially in light of the fact that The Social Network is part of our academic suite of tools. I reminded them that they were too young to legally have a profile on Facebook, but I discussed in detail things I found inappropriate. I don’t just judge; I tell them that I judge. I reminded them that they should carefully consider their actions in the virtual and the physical worlds, as it all goes towards building their character and their perceived character. I also gave them examples of kids and adults behaving badly online. [Usually I mention this sexting story when I talk about how everything online is public, permanent, and traceable: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/27/us/27sexting.html?_r=2]

Today, I was pretty annoyed and surprised when I found out from two different teachers that kids were creating private groups on The Social Network and personally inviting certain kids while gleefully excluding others. Or, maybe I’m just offended that they didn’t include me in a group formed “for pretty and popular kids ONLY!!!” So, this afternoon, I gathered the 6th grade together and told them I was disappointed and surprised that within a week of joining this shared digital space, they were already making unfortunate choices.

I reminded them that in the real world I would never have middle school “friends” on Facebook and that shouldn’t even think about trying to connect with me online until they can legally vote. But, here at The School, they should freely connect with their classmates and teachers. Outside of school, they are plenty of ways to ostracize based on gender, religion, race, ethnicity, sexuality, socio-economic status. Inside these walls, we should embrace our community and seek ways to learn, collaborate, and use the technology academically, creatively, responsibly. I also reinforced that it is ok to have private groups, but there should be a purpose besides being solely exclusive.

The kids came up with pretty great examples of acceptable private groups – grade level groups, class groups, homeroom groups, and maybe creative writing groups where you would want to share your work with a select group of peer editors. I asked them to consult a teacher before creating a private group. I reminded them that they should actively consult a teacher for most things, just like I do with Don.

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Educon + Twitter = Reunion

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As many have stated before, the education and technology conferences feel a lot like reunions these days. This is mostly due to Twitter, though attending conferences begat more Twitter contacts which begat knowing about more conferences which begat attending and/or speaking at said conferences which begat gathering more Twitter contacts and so on and so forth.

Tomorrow I’ll join the hordes already at Educon. This is the third annual education conference taking place at The Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia. [Philly is my hometown, and as a result, I garner strange looks whenever I ask for a glass of “wooder” at a restaurant.] Chris Lehmann is the dynamic, phenomenal, and brilliant principal of SLA, and it was a pleasure to meet him at last year’s Educon and host him at the inaugural TEDxNYED in March 2010.

As per Educon’s homepage,  EduCon is both a conversation and a conference. And it is not a technology conference. It is an education conference. It is, hopefully, an innovation conference where we can come together, both in person and virtually, to discuss the future of schools. Every session will be an opportunity to discuss and debate ideas — from the very practical to the big dreams.

This year, I am thrilled to be co-leading two conversations at Educon. Based on experience, I know the attendees are smart, engaged, innovative, and tech savvy, so I am understandably intimidated. It’s hard to hide behind my camera when I’m one of the presenters. However, I’m too excited to learn a ton, gather resources, and reunite with people from my personal learning network to dwell too much on my insecurities. Plus, I am paired with awesome collaborators who are people I genuinely like and highly respect: Meredith Stewart (@msstewart) and Basil Kolani (@bkolani). My two sessions are listed below:

Crafting Character

Who: Karen Blumberg, Meredith Stewart
When: Session One
Where: Room 309

Students need to recognize that their communications and actions contribute to their character. In an age where everyone uses Google (including high school counselors, college admissions, and employers), it is more important than ever to initiate conversations with students about how their immediate online choices have potentially permanent ramifications.

Grassroots Professional Development

Who: Basil Kolani, Karen Blumberg
When: Session Five
Where: Room 303

Every teacher needs professional development, but not everyone has the resources available for it. The good news: You don’t need massive resources for great PD.

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