Facebook and the e-lephant in the room – Are you still their teacher?


By James Shea

How will you cope, I provocatively asked my student teachers, if a student says, ‘Miss, I was looking up chunking on Youtube and I prefer this method to long division.’

How will you cope if in your history lesson a student says, ‘This topic is elitist. It is focused on the ruling class according to friends in my Facebook feed.’

Even worse, what if a student pulls out a phablet and says, ‘I want to use an app on this to help me with my work.’

The e-lephant in the room is the technological more knowledgeable other. The concept of ‘curriculum’ is being challenged. You might, as a P.E. teacher, be teaching running and the students could know more about professional running programmes, training and data management than you just from their Strava and Veloviewer accounts. Their what? Exactly. Students are learning amazing amounts, to challenging depths and in a variety of exciting ways through technology. And how are you coping with this?

Are you a ‘Ban It All’ type person? No ‘bring your own technology’ allowed? No running sprints on the athletic track with your Runkeeper pushing times to your wearable technology watch. No access to internet or secondary knowledge banks whilst in school. No access full stop, for teachers or students to online learning portals like, yes even Youtube!

Or are you an, ‘I ignore it all’ type person? You are aware that students operate in communities of practice, are sharing ideas and learning and generally are accessing a whole range of secondary learning, but you haven’t a clue nor a willingness to learn. Is it all passing you by in a weary blur?

Or are you embracing the extra learning being generated by students harnessing the technological more knowledgeable other through their smartphones, online communities and apps?

Believe it or not, you don’t need to be on Facebook or use Whatsapp groups in order to deal with these questions. What you do need to know is that students are using the latest technology to tap into more knowledgeable others: whether that more knowledgeable other is an app, a website or a learning community. Once you realise this you can encourage your students to better evaluate the learning they are getting from this technological more knowledgeable other. You can flip the classroom and get students inspired to use their technology to enhance your lessons, not hinder them.

Don’t let the e-lephant in the room hold your students’ learning back…

James Shea is a published author and Senior Lecturer in English and Education at The University of Bedfordshire, United Kingdom. You can reach him at @englishspecial

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Education Technology Solutions has been created to inspire and encourage the use of technology in education. Through its content, Education Technology Solutions seeks to showcase cutting edge products and practices with a view to expanding the boundaries and raising the standards of education curricula. It introduces teachers and IT staff to the latest products, services and developments in education technology with a view to providing practical how-to guidance designed to facilitate the integration of those products and services into the school environment in the most productive and beneficial manner possible.

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