Dean Shareski on Facebook, filtering, and socializing

Dean Shareski, a digital learning consultant in Saskatchewan, has a post/podcast on Facebook, filtering, and all that.  He says that teachers in his division’s school struggle with how to keep students from wandering too far off task.

I gotta go update my status...What I like about the post is that Shareski has the teachers tell what they’re doing.  Three teachers share their views in print, followed by a recorded discussion between Shareski and a fourth teacher.

I wonder how many corporate organizations would start by asking rank-and-file workers (rather than up-and-comers at headquarters) for their views?

I’m impressed with the way the teachers want the students to learn how to be responsible not only for their own behavior, but for how they manage their time.  Shareski’s audio interview with teacher Patricia Yeske is worth listening to–in no small part because, she says, “When those laptops [first] came in, I wanted everything locked down.”

A few points that stood out:

  • By setting clear expectations early, Yeske says, students now freely ask, “Hey, can I go to such-and-such a site?”  They’re understanding the contextual nature of access in a classroom; it’s not just yes-or-no.
  • One obstacle I wondered about, and one Yeske mentions, is whether teachers are ready to justify to parents why the school does not block social networking sites like Facebook.
  • Many of these high schoolers don’t have email; they have Facebook.  That’s not only how they interact online with their friends; it’s also their digital backpack.
  • For them, Facebook isn’t anything special; it’s just a regular tool.

As Shareski and Yeske talked about socializing at school, and then perhaps socializing as student began collaborating on a project, I thought about adult workplace socializing.

For me, some of the best projects have been those where I could move freely between the people and the task.  Ruth Sizemore House touched on this in the incomprehensibly out-of-print book, The Human Side of Project Management–she had “Ruth’s radar” for project managers, with a task axis and a people axis.

There’s something similar for working adults: a way to maintain a dynamic balance between too little / too much focus on people, and too little / too much focus on the task.

I don’t often venture any more into the world of education, but I’m glad Dean’s sharing what he does.

Digital backpack photo by R.W.W. / Ambra Galassi.

2 thoughts on “Dean Shareski on Facebook, filtering, and socializing

  1. Thank you for your comments Dave.

    My students stumbled upon your blog while google’ing’ themselves, and apparently me, for a family history project.

    In my opinion there are three factors that restrain teachers from jumping into a technologically enhanced environment:
    1. lack of funding for hardware (tools cost $)
    2. lack of support and professional development (no one should have to swim alone for the first time)
    3. fear of justifying the effective use of technology in the classroom

    Until teachers are given the support that they need, they won’t be willing to improve their students learning with a technologically enhanced environment.

    It’s my sincere pleasure to expose the pros and cons of the use of technology in my classroom to educate and prepare my students to be independent, well rounded thinkers. My goal is to have my students decide what is right or wrong for themselves (in school and out) and to be able to justify their own use of social networking for different purposes.

    Thanks for the laugh! We, my students and I, really liked the picture of the penguin with the digital backpack. They were quick to identify the student in the room with the longest arms and liken him to the penguin. They were also sure that I must have created the backpack since it had duct tape on it.

  2. Patricia, I’m delighted your students found this. (Hi, guys!) I actually started blogging after creating a web page on which I posted a conversation with my parents–I turned on the speaker phone and taped them as my mother talked about how we came to the U.S. when I was nearly three.

    “And then we had to go through immigration. And [my father’s sister] Cassie said, when we get there, just leave the kids loose, don’t be holding them. The kids’ll start getting in trouble and they’ll put you through fast.”

    Back on topic: in my area (suburban Washington DC), I think there’s sometimes a reluctance on the part of the administration as well. We have large, diverse school districts with many highly vocal groups that see themselves as stakeholders.

    In case anyone missed it, the penguin image links to the original on Flickr. Thanks belong to Ambra Galassi, the photographer, who posted it with a CC license. I was just smart enough to recognize it as a good fit for this article. (Bonus points if they found the alt text.)

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