Posts Tagged ‘tumblr’

Teaching with Tumblr

Sunday, March 31st, 2013

This week we learned about using different kinds of technology to create virtual experiences for students.  Among the ideas explored were mobile apps and exploring virtual worlds.  We also thought about good versus bad uses of technology in the classroom, which remains an important topic as new teachers enter classrooms full of digital natives.

When it comes to using technology, namely cellphones, in the classroom, there are always pros and cons.  Some of the downsides of allowing cellphones in the classroom is that phones often act as distractions.  When I was in high school, students were always hiding phones in their laps or were texting behind their backpacks.  The fifth grade classroom at my old grade school now has a cellphone bin, where students drop off their cellphones at the beginning of the day.  In my practicum classroom last year, students were constantly playing with their smartphones.  It was difficult for the teacher to manage the classroom and get the students to put the phones away.

Another downside to using mobile apps is that it assumes that all students have smartphones.  Not all students are going to be able to download apps on their phones, and they may not be able to get Internet on them.  Just like teachers have to consider that not all students will have access to computers and Internet outside of school, we also have to consider that students may not be able to use mobile apps.

However, there are definitely advantages to using virtual technology and mobile apps.  Virtual technology, such as Storybricks, can allow students to create their own visual stories.  While students should be able to write their own stories, being able to illustrate and flesh out their story visually can help engage students and add a new level of meaning to their story that could not necessarily be expressed with words.  As stated in a report to Congress, “Virtual Worlds and Kids: Mapping the Risks,” “For children and teens, virtual worlds offer educational, social, and creative opportunities.  For example, educators are using these spaces to provide students with hands-on experiential learning opportunities.” These opportunities can pique students’ interests and give them more freedom of creativity when it comes to their schoolwork.

Similarly, mobile apps can let students upload material whenever they want, as long as they have a smartphone on them.  If a student finds something in their research online that could be of interest to the class or could be used for a project, they can save it to an online profile like Tumblr.  Tumblr would be an interesting blogging experience for students, since many of them may already have Tumblrs or are familiar with the site.  I also think that Tumblr can be a means of connecting students as a class.  Students could upload content to a classroom profile for their classmates to work with.  Teachers can also benefit from communicating through Tumblr or other online profiles, uploading content-specific material that teachers in different subjects can look at.

An example of a Tumblr account that I came across recently is “WhatShouldWeCallEducators,” whose creator uploads gifs with captions related to issues that teachers come across daily.

It’s often humorous, but I wouldn’t show it to students since we don’t want them to feel as though they are made fun of.  However, this is just one example of how a Tumblr could create solidarity among teachers, and among students.

References:

Federal Trade Commission. Virtual world & kids: Mapping the risks. Retrieved at http://www.ftc.gov/os/2009/12/oecd-vwrpt.pdf