Social Media

Reflecting on Social Media in the Classroom:

As a possible topic for Assignment 1 and a basis for my artefact I am considering promoting Social Media. The work of Rheingold and his Attention, and Other 21st-Century Social Media Literacies (Rheingold, 2010), which contrasts effectively with Reclaiming the Students – Coping With Social Media in 1:1 Schools (Andersson, Hatakka, Gronlund, & Wiklund, 2014) is providing much food for thought.

In many ways the classroom can be seen as a marketplace, with multiple seductive attractions from the online world competing with physical presence, and the issue of teacher-managed circumstances is certainly critical, as Andersson et al discovered in their interpretive research based on content analysis obtained via surveys and interviews (Andersson, Hatakka, Gronlund, & Wiklund, 2014, p. 40). In their findings 42% of students and 74% of teachers indicated that social media (particularly Facebook) were a distractor requiring management (Andersson, Hatakka, Gronlund, & Wiklund, 2014, p. 42). Management ranged from the punitive removal of devices to suggestions for self-management (Andersson, Hatakka, Gronlund, & Wiklund, 2014, pp. 45-46).

Rheingold’s first focus: attention, reinforces this issue but examines it from a more positive perspective. He begins by highlighting the issue of Attention: affected by multitasking, or “continuous partial attention” or attention-splitting, or “hyper attention” (Rheingold, 2010).  Wirelessly-webbed, always-on media presents a constant smorgasbord of options with which students can be distracted, in the same way many of their teachers may also be lured off task or topic (Rheingold, 2010). Rheingold’s solution is to model and promote focused attention when necessary, additionally acknowledging that there are times when it is truly beneficial to task-switch (Rheingold, 2010).

We are currently teaching the first generation of young adults who have been raised with connective media devices since an early age, whose parents are also learning the concepts and parameters of such connectivity. Social mores for mobile phones in public spaces are still evolving and protocols for social media in public versus private settings are also in an emergent stage. This adds a degree of urgency to the debate about using such media as teaching tools and resources, which are now so much a part of the world beyond school, including work.

Participation is the next aspect Rheingold addresses. While acknowledging the amount of facile blogging and tweeting he also promotes the value of online participation in social media: “When you participate, you become an active citizen rather than simply a passive consumer of what is sold to you, what is taught to you, and what your government wants you to believe. Simply participating is a start” (Rheingold, 2010).

Inherent in teaching students to participate is the need to define the rhetorics of participation, to ensure that there will be sufficient numbers of well-educated citizens who are proficient at accessing and interpreting information allowing productive communication of their opinions in concert with other citizens – a literacy of participation (Rheingold, 2010). 

The next discussion revolves around Collaboration. It is important to note the distinction between collaboration, and collective action, something educators find difficult to construct lessons to really address. The 21st Century Literacy project defines Collaboration as one of five fluencies that today’s students need to master. Microsoft have developed an app which enables teachers to assess the degree to which a planned task is truly collaborative and not just “group work” (Moffitt, n.d). Collaboration offers educators a very powerful tool with which to engage students in some real world learning from experts beyond the classroom walls.

Moffitt's Microsoft app for Windows 8
Moffitt’s Microsoft app for Windows 8

Network Awareness

Online social networks are a relatively recent addition to something which has always been an essential part of being human,. No longer do teachers have the physical limitations on which people and how many people we could include in an educational network.

David P. Reed , cited by Rheingold, noted that there are at least three kinds of value that networks can provide:

  1. the linear value of services that are aimed at individual users,
  2. the ‘square’ value from facilitating transactions,
  3. and the exponential value for facilitating group affiliations(Rheingold, 2010).

It is the third value that offers the greatest learning opportunities for educating students to appreciate the notions and nuances of reputation and diffuse reciprocity, which are increasingly important online (Rheingold, 2010).

On her blog post about back-channeling in the classroom, Edna Sackson refers to the case of teacher Silvia, who is introducing Today’s Meet to her class as being their own chat room; once the lesson has progressed she “switches to the ‘front channel’ to discuss what’s going on in the back channel” (Sackson, 2015).  Teachable moments arise when students post inappropriately, which Silvia happily seizes ion by educating her students about audience and purpose. (Sackson, 2015).

Critical consumption

“Critical consumption, or what Ernest Hemingway called “crap detection,” is the literacy of trying to figure out what and who is trustworthy—and what and who is not trustworthy—online” (Rheingold, 2010). The critical need is for education in assessing validity, accuracy and authority. Collecting and curating information is another vital tool that must be modelled and incorporated.

Darren Draper, with some sadness, comments in relation to the much touted technological education adoption model SAMR the “In SAMR-ry,5 I think many of us in education are frustratingly stuck in Gartner’s trough of disillusionment, trying to understand why million dollar purchases are only being used as textbook and bubble sheet alternatives (SAMR’s beloved S!) (Draper, 2014) “.  Many educators await the day when research catches up with vision, and greater enlightenment more fully translates into more meaningful transformation of classrooms into spaces that are opened up by access to devices for enhancing learning activities with meaningful connectivity well beyond the local community (Draper, 2014).


Andersson, A., Hatakka, M., Gronlund, A., & Wiklund, M. (2014). Reclaiming the Students – Coping With Social Media in 1:1 Schools. Learning, Media and Technology, 39(1), 37-52. doi:10.1080/17439884.2012.756518

Crockett, L., Jukes, I., & Churches, A. (2011). Literacy is Not Enough, 21st-Century Fluencies for the Digital Age. Corwin.

Draper, D. E. (2014, February 22). That Time When SAMR Gets Us Into Trouble. Retrieved March 21, 2015, from Drape’s Takes : Openness, Education; Technology:

Moffitt, L. (n.d.). 21st Century Learning Design App. Retrieved from

Rheingold, H. (2010, October 7). Attention, and Other 21st-Century Social Media Literacies. Retrieved March 21, 2015, from Educause:

Sackson, E. (2015, March 14). Back-channelling in the Classroom. Retrieved March 21, 2015, from What Ed Said:


Digital tools

The digital tools used in INF532:

The journey commenced in INF530 has continued, and for INF532, it is hard to know what to identify as new. So many strands of my professional life for the last 8 or so years have been drawn together within this course – and some go back to my Masters of Education (Teacher-Librarianship) days when the www was a new entity!

Defining Social Media and Identifying my Platforms:

Social networking is the connectivity we are able to make with other like-minded people  through social media such as Twitter (@margaretsimkin) , blogs (WordPress), and wikis (wikispaces for me); sharing information and film clips such as through vimeo (my preference – not that I use it much) or you-tube; keeping up with friends and family through Facebook (mainly personal use on this one); sharing images through Flikr (not very successfully) and Google plus; teleconferencing through Microsoft Lync (use this at work as our phone system too) or Google hangouts, and collecting and curating through Pocket, Pinterest or Pearltrees. As with many things, I know about and have often signed up to these things, but often lack the time to develop them properly!

Continuing my learning journey through INF532:

Having avoided blogging for most of the time I have known about it, this course has truly convinced me of its power. While appreciating forum discussions, I have found blogging to be helpful in terms of organising my own thinking and mastering the content presented to me. For this subject I have blogged about being a student for module 1.1, the new culture of learning revealed in readings for module 1.2 and the three challenges I believe we face as educators in the C21st.

From Jackie Gerstein’s Powtoon converted to youtube clip I was reminded of the importance of translating pedagogical foundations to connects, curations and changed practices (Gerstein, 2012). This led me to sign up for a Powtoon account to see what it can add to my educational tool kit. Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach and Lani Ritter are currently challenging me to consider what I know and how I apply it to my work (Nussbaum-Beach & Hall, 2012). As usual, I struggle to implement the concepts to their full extent due to the constraints of the curriculum within which I must work.

Taking the multi-literacies test I acknowledged the following about my professional practice:

  1. Facilitating and inspiring learning and creativity: applying real world issues to VCE History is a challenge but the concepts of perspective (historians’ views) is an ongoing reality. Hard to spend too much time using current examples to illustrate the past.
  2. Personalising and customising work for students and applying a range of formative and summative assessment could be better in terms of designing and developing digital-age learning experiences and assessments but it’s tricky when my main exposure is in a VCE Year 12 subject.
  3. I am quite pleased with my modelling of working and learning in a digital age but have found through this course that my note-taking skills are a bit chaotic!
  4. With promoting and modelling digital citizenship and responsibility I am conscious of cutting corners from time to time; I forget to apply creative commons licence as often as I should.
  5. Professional growth and leadership are personal strengths. Professional learning opportunities provided by my school have enabled me to develop a wide range of skills in this area. This course is forcing me to apply many of the skills I have learned to my own learning, something it is easy to forget in the hurly burly of teaching from day to day.

My main hope for completing this subject is to strengthen the foundations that I already have in place, applying more of the networking to my teaching and learning in a sustained and meaningful manner, and “meeting” more like-minded educators with whom to share my educational journey.


Gerstein, J. (2012, October 11). Educator as a Social Networked Learner. Retrieved March 10, 2015, from

Nussbaum-Beach, S., & Hall, L. R. (2012). The Connected Educator. Bloomington: Solution Tree Press.



1.2 New Culture

A new culture of learning

The new culture of learning described by Thomas and Brown resonates with many aspects of the Master of Education Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation course that many students of this subject are undertaking. They define this culture as invisible, without traditional structure but operating in a defined environment which encourages the freedom to research (Thomas & Brown, 2011, pp. 17-18). Acknowledgement is given that playing in such a culture leads to the development of passions and ideas (Thomas & Brown, 2011, p. 18). This style of framework for learning cultivates citizenship, generates feedback leading to improvement for future students, and establishes the use of rich and highly textured examples of cross referencing and communication to form a learning community from the teachers and students within the group (Thomas & Brown, 2011, pp. 22-25).

So many new “friends” who are also peers and collaborators have been introduced to each other in a virtual sense through the shared work on the study modules that guide our learning. Sharing a “creative coffee” for INF536 proved incredibly valuable in ways beyond imagination (thanks Deborah and Liz!). Encouragement from Heather Baillie saw me enrol in this subject, and commentary through Twitter #feeds (Simon Keily) supported me through frustrations and celebrations. Sharing blog posts and video footage of our concepts and workplaces was akin to a site visit (thanks Matt Ives), and gentle encouragement from our subject coordinators provided a platform from which to launch our own practical applications. For me, as a lone practitioner in a small regional school, the new culture of learning has provided a much loved and respected “faculty” from which to draw inspiration and strength.

For students in my Year 12 History Revolutions class, I have attempted to create a similar environment. Working through collaborative learning activities using a range of techniques in 2014 was amazing, and similarly to Douglas Thomas, I felt that my students taught me far more than I taught them (Thomas & Brown, 2011, p. 25). This year a new tool, collaborative Microsoft OneNote, is encouraging a valuable mix of formal teacher notes (like those provided in CSU’s Blackboard), individual student notes, which are visible to me as the teacher, and shared working space which has superseded the Interactive Whiteboard activities paper-based work of the past. Giving feedback through audio recording that moves down the student’s page as aspects are identified for improvement or congratulations is amazingly powerful.

In terms of difference from the case studies provided by Thomas and Brown, my one formal class is restricted because it is a VCE course examined externally in November. This precludes a higher degree of personal control than Sam experiences through his involvement in Scratch, Douglas’ Massively Multi-player Online Games course, or Allen’s self-taught programming skills (Thomas & Brown, 2011, pp. 22-28). It also makes creation of an online sharing community such as Diabetes Daily more problematic (Thomas & Brown, 2011, pp. 29-30). The very nature of the Australian Tertiary Assessment Ranking system makes students at this level very wary of sharing too much due to a fear of reducing their own results or enabling another to supersede their position within the statewide cohort. Even teachers guard their own material closely, and in some schools Principals are reluctant to allow their staff to share work in case it affects enrolments in a negative fashion.

Within the more open library skill based programs offered to both teachers and students, however there is a glimmer of potential through such a culture of learning.


Thomas, D., & Brown, J. (2011). Arc-of-Life-Learning. A new culture of learning, 17-33.

1.1 Connected students

Being a student in the connected world.

Reflecting on the Slideshare put together by Penelope Coutas for her studies in 2010 – several sides resonated with both the subject readings we are undertaking at present, and also my lived experience in the connected world. The slides that impacted on my thinking the most were:

Slide 5

The Information revolution
The Information revolution


It is interesting to muse on the fact that ontology deals with the nature of being, yet the “place” that comprises virtual reality is doubted in terms of its multi-locational presence, criticised for it’s apparent disorder, and challenged for its “authenticity. Compare the concepts of The dark Side of information overload, anxiety and other paraxes and pathologies (Bawden, D., & Robinson, L. 2009) with De Saulles more optimistic New Models of Information Production (De Saulles 2012)


Slide 12 Personal Learning Environment and Personal Learning Network


This slide shows the complete integration of peoples’personal learning  environment within a networked world. Technological tools and artefacts provide the link between the way information is able to be collated, recreated and used to create new information which is then, in turn, shared. The spirit that exists in a knowledge networked society is pervasive and encouraging, and subjects such as Knowledge Networking for Educators continue to demonstrate this in its full capacity. These learning realities are well summed up in Microsoft’s ATC21S (2014) and are gradually taking hold within Australian educational settings.

online friends
online friends











Part of slide 26, which is a diagrammatic representation of people’s interactivity. It shows names of people who have become experts in sharing information and modelling social learning interactivity. Among the names shown are: CSU’s Judy O’Connell, Victorian educator, Jess McCullogh, online content creator for education Bryn Jones from Perth, and Jim Mullaney, Google expert from RMIT university.

Study skills
Study skills

Slide 27 “Being a student today”  shows the skills and processes that must be worked through in order to produce successful results. Brown and Duguid spend much time analysing the limits, redefinition and oversimplification (as demonstrated by models such as the 6Ds described on page 22) of information in its broadest sense (Brown & Duguid, 2000 pp. 11-22)


Who is the architect?
Who is the architect?

Slide 36 is the a valuable insight into the relationship between who is sorting things out and for what purpose. The focus has been on the tools for quite some time, but the tools are of lesser importance that the information provided by them, the connections they enable between people and the learning they facilitate. It is in the facilitation process that information specialists such as teacher-librarians have a clear role to play within twenty-first century schools, facilitating the cultivation of imagination through assisting learners of all ages to harness information appropriate to their quest (Thomas & Brown, 2011 p.31).



Assessment and Teaching of 21st Century Skills (ATC21S). (2014). Retrieved March 4, 2015, from Microsoft Education:

Bawden, D., & Robinson, L. (2009). The dark Side of information overload, anxiety and other paraxes and pathologies. Journal of Information Science, 35(2), 180-191.

Brown, J., & Duguid, P. (2000). Limits to Information. In J. Brown, & P. Duguid, Social Life of Information (pp. 11-33). Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

Coutas, P. (2010, October 8). New Sources of Information. Retrieved March 7, 2015, from Slideshare:

De Saulles, M. (2012). New Models of Information Production. Information 2.0: New Models of Information Production, Distribution and Consumption., 13-35.

Thomas, D., & Brown, J. (2011). Arc-of-Life-Learning. A new culture of learning, 17-33.


1.2 Three challenges

Three challenges to educators:

Three challenges facing educators wishing to fully engage their students with aspects of the information society thus enabling knowledge networking, and thereby encouraging digital innovation are:

  1. The ability to look at the development of digital lives, personally, professionally and for the students I encounter in my work, beyond the techno-hype of the digerati (Lindsey, 2014). Too much concern about cyber safety by educational administrators often hampers educators’ ability to model and teach use and development of C21st skills (Assessment and Teaching of 21st Century Skills (ATC21S), 2014). The high level of concern about issues of authenticity and authority is extreme when consideration is given to the fact that humanity has been living in various kinds of information ages since writing began (Floridi, 2009, p. 153). Subsequently people have learned to access, select, utilise and adapt the work of those such as Gutenberg and Turing, to apply it to their own information needs and to create new information (Floridi, 2009, p. 154)
  2. The focus should be on celebrating that information is socially situated, is socially constructed, and, therefore, needs to be designed and utilised to empower people, as opposed to overwhelming them(Lindsey, 2014). The exponential growth of information in recent times has challenged the degree of subsurface root development to support the rapidly developing branches of humanities’ technological tree (Floridi, 2009, p. 154).
  3. Educators have a unique and critical role to play in assisting their students to develop skills that enable them to cope with Moore’s prediction that information will double every eighteen months (Brown & Duguid, 2000, p. 14).  While excitement is aroused in infoenthusiasts by this amazing amount of knowledge, students needs a means of redefining the masses of information comes to them as documents, stories, diagrams and images which convey knowledge and meaning (Brown & Duguid, 2000, p. 16). Users do not consider it to be made up of “quadrillions of packets of data (Gates, cited in Brown & Duguid, 2000, p. 11), they need mechanisms to sort, rework, recreate, use, and move to the solutions that such access brings, rather than focussing of the questions and issues (Brown & Duguid, 2000, p. 19). Our students need to be educated to participate in this sudden burst of global information societal action for the depth of understanding, networking and collaborative problem solving to which it is so well suited (Floridi, 2009, p. 154).


Assessment and Teaching of 21st Century Skills (ATC21S). (2014). Retrieved March 4, 2015, from Microsoft Education:

Bawden, D., & Robinson, L. (2009). The Dark Side of Information Overload, Anxiety and Other Paraxes and Pathologies. Journal of Information Science, 35(2), 180-191.

Brown, J., & Duguid, P. (2000). Limits to Information. In J. Brown, & P. Duguid, Social Life of Information (pp. 11-33). Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

Floridi, L. (2009). The Information Society and Its Philosophy: An Introduction to the Special issue on “The Philosophy of Information, Its Nature, and Future developments. The Information Society: An International Journal, 25, 153-158. doi:10.1080/01972240902848583

Lindsey, J. (2014). 1.1 Information environments. Retrieved March 4, 2015, from INF532 Knowledge Networking for Educators: