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Facing Facebook…

I am an avid “Facebooker”. There is hardly a day that I do not pop in to check my news feed and see what’s happening to my “Friends”. Quite often I post a status message, but not always – just when I feel like it. Unfortunately though, I pop in a for a “quick” look and before I know it I’ve lost 30 minutes or more, reading all the status updates, checking new photos added, ‘liking’ pages and more. The reality of it is that Facebook is a time thief – 10 minutes turns into an hour in the blink of an eye, stealing what could be productive time; time which could have been put to far better use, if one had to be honest, that is. It is also a fantastic social networking tool and has enabled me to connect with people I haven’t seen or spoken to in 30 years and it is for that very reason that I can’t resist it.

However, neither of the above is why I am writing this post today. I have just come across a post (thanks to Twitter – another one of my “vices”), by Vicki Davis or @coolcatteacher which touches on aspects of Facebook which I have brought to the attention of our parents and our staff – the issues of ‘friending’ our own children and the ‘friending ‘of our students.

Before I carry on, let me say that the Internet is NOT and does not have to be the huge ogre that it is made out to be. It is an awesome resource which, when used wisely and responsibly, is the most amazing tool available to children adults alike. It is our duty as parents and teachers to give our children the tools to make use of this wonderful resource in a safe and responsible way. However, the consequences, when it is NOT used responsibly or in an unmonitored manner, can be very nasty indeed.

Back to Vicki’s post. It is an excellent read and provides some excellent insight into the Friend settings on Facebook, many of which most people are not aware. She also touches on the issue of underage Facebook users, which is something close to my heart. I’m a real stickler for following rules as I believe that rules are put in place for a reason. If you may only be on Facebook from the age of 13, then so be it. That is why my own daughter does not have a Facebook profile – she’s only 12, and I will cross that bridge when she turns 13. As for parents who allow their underage children on Facebook, well I have always advocated that these parents should ‘friend’ their children with the idea that they can keep an eye on their children’s Facebook activity as a protective measure. Vicki’s post has put a completely new spin on this and gives excellent reasons as to why this is possibly not a great idea.

Vicki also addresses the issue of teachers ‘friending’ their students. I do not approve of this, as I feel it is unprofessional, especially at primary school level when there is a great difference between teacher and child in terms of interests and experience, not to mention age. Do your students really need to know what you did last weekend or what your friends have to say about you? I think not, but that is my personal opinion entirely.

Please read her article for yourself. Whether you disagree or not, it makes good reading: Cool Cat Teacher Blog http://bit.ly/gstwVV

For similar or related posts:

Unsocial Social Media – http://bit.ly/hMwuct

Why Teachers Need to Use Social Media – http://bit.ly/gSr

Virtual ‘hanging with friends’ (where, when, how…) – http://bit.ly/f83qpO

What’s the right age to give a child a cell phone? – http://bit.ly/fphnJd

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The Importance of a PLN

Yesterday I made a new ‘friend’, thanks to the wonderful PLN I have created on Twitter.  A while ago I touched on the value of Twitter, but I feel I need to revisit the topic of a PLN again, because only now am I really beginning to see its true value.  I am now of the opinion that a PLN, or Personal Learning Network, is of utmost importance if one is to keep abreast of what is happening in education around the world.  If we are to keep up with trends, read the latest thoughts on issues in education and keep up with ICT developments world-wide, then a PLN is a MUST!

As I have mentioned before, I joined Twitter about two years ago, and then I started searching for people in the same line of education – ICT integration.  Before long I was following an array of people who ranged from specialists in the field, to regular teachers like myself, people with a passion for ICT and a love of social networking!  Well, it
has certainly worked for me! In the past two years I have learnt more, discovered more new things and ‘met’ more people, than I ever thought possible.  All thanks to the wonderful people in my PLN! I am following people in South Africa, America, Germany, England, Australia, Spain, France and most recently, Romania!

That brings me back to my newest ‘friend’ – @bucharesttutor.  This young man saw an appeal I had made for Maths websites and Cricket World Cup lessons, and in a jiffy he connected with me, and sent me
a list of links which I will now share with my fellow teachers.  He is based in Bucharest, Romania and is a qualified Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry private tutor who teaches all grades.  How amazing is that?

Through my Twitter connections, I have started following the blogs of a number of these wonderful people. I now don’t know what I would do without my amazing PLN – each day I learn more and more from them and I look forward to reading their latest offerings.  I am also hoping to meet one or two of these lovely people at the Intel ICT in the Classroom Conference, in Johannesburg, in July!  I know that @nharm (Naomi Harm from Wisconsin, USA is one of the international presenters – I met her at the same conference in Durban in 2009).

Please understand that Twitter is not the only way to create a PLN!  It was my tool for creating connections, but there are various other ways such as Facebook, joining Ning communities relating to your interests, and other networking tools.

 My advice to you then?  Get networking!!

The value of Twitter!

I have become a firm fan of  Twitter.  Since becoming a “tweeter” I have started follwoing the most amazing people – teachers, tech fundis, Web 2.0 fanatics, ICT specialists and more.  In following these wonderful and knowledgable people, I have made the most amazing connections and “met” the most interesting personalities.  I have also picked up invaluable tips and hints as well as having collected an impressive list of recommended websites – all to do with using technology in the classroom.  I have put all these websites into an organised wiki on my school’s sharepoint site, for the teachers to use at their will.  I have truly come across some very useful sites, which will change the way learning takes place.  All thanks to the wonderful people I have connected with on Twitter!  My Personal Learning Network!  Follow me on www.twitter.com/ICT_Integrator to share my experiences.

Here is a screen shot of my wiki: