Monday, March 18, 2013

Engaging a Student's Passion

I'd like to talk about student engagement; I'd like to talk about allowing students to follow their passions and supporting them.  I'd like you to consider how Facebook and other social media sites can make your students develop and grow in ways they are interested in, not in ways they are told to be interested. This is a piece of evidence from Korea International School. Colin is on of our students; Colin happens to be a very gifted piano player. This is Colin's SoundCloud page. Look closely. Do you see the number of followers he has on his page? 12,958. 12,958! Almost 13,000 people listen to this kid's music. By the time you read this blog post, he will have more than 13,000 followers. Amazing! And how has this impacted Colin? His confidence in his musical abilities has grown; his confidence in himself as grown; he is a musician with an authentic audience. This has occurred because we do not blog Facebook or SoundCloud at KIS. In fact, we don't block any social media sites at KIS to encourage innovative collaboration among students and teachers. We don't recommend teachers friending students in social media sites, but we do encourage using features like groups and pages within social media sites. Many of our teachers supplement course instruction with Facebook groups; almost all of our clubs are ran by Facebook groups and most of these are student led. Below is a screen shot from my Film Makers club. More correctly, I should say the student's club, because three students who are passionate about film making approached me last fall about being an advisor for their club. Here are three students who are very passionate about a topic that used Facebook to promote and manage a club. Now there are 20 students in the club and they organize and arrange filming for club block and outside of club block via the Facebook page. They remind each other to bring costumes, props, equipment. This type of engagement could be done in Schoology or Edmodo, but the students prefer Facebook. They feel like they have ownership when they use the tool that they prefer, not the one we prefer. If you are blocking social media sites at your school, stop. You can tell yourself that you are protecting students and teachers; you can tell yourself that you are modeling best practice with technology; but in reality, you are simply slowing down the learning and collaboration for everyone.