Home > Social Media, teaching > What I Did In My Winter Holidays

What I Did In My Winter Holidays

I wonder what everyone has been doing during this unexpected winter holiday that we’ve been having in most of the UK this past week?

Have my students been playing XBOX all week, or will they show some drive, determination and motivation and continue with their college work?

My colleagues at Carnegie College have certainly been doing their bit to keep the wheels of education turning, and Facebook, which is often viewed very dimly in education, has turned out to be our saviour.

Over recent weeks we’ve set up Facebook groups for most of our classes and have been using them to share information, post reminders of assessment dates and to encourage students to evaluate each others work. The majority of the students have been participating enthusiastically and since the snow came the groups have become our principal means of communication.

Interestingly I doubt that the college VLE would have been so successful. Although usage statistics show that the VLE has had a significant number of visitors over the past week, it lacks the kind of social tools that Facebook has and also suffers from being a closed community that only college staff and students can access.  On the other hand Facebook  is open to anyone and allows communication and sharing with almost invisible boundaries between people’s private and public networks.

There are certainly differences between a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) and a social network like Facebook, however there is also a lot of commonality. One thing that VLE’s have failed to understand and embrace  is the Social Constructivist theory of education, which claims that learning best takes place in collaborative social groups. Although some VLEs do offer collaborative tools such as wikis and blogs, they fail to provide access to a wider community because of their closed nature. Learning occurs in many places, not just in the classroom and not just inside the VLE, so perhaps the next stage in the development of educational technology will see much more openness and sharing rather than segmentation and selfishness. We learn almost everything from other people, so why must we confine learning to inside a classroom or a locked down network?

This will no doubt form part of my discussion during my presentation at the forthcoming JISC Winter Fayre (assuming I can get there physically if not virtually).

Addendum (5 hours after original post)

I wonder if, during this snowbreak, anyone will be more industrious at home than they would be at college? Watch this video and think about it.

Snowing on me




Here’s a list of things I’ve done today whilst working at home

  1. marked 6 long student essays (probably 7 or 8 by end of day)
  2. communicated one-to-one and one-to-many with several students via Adobe Connect.
  3. communicated one-to-many with groups of students via Facebook.
  4. communicated with several friends and colleagues via different methods.
  5. amended assessments to take into account the weather conditions and delays.
  6. read and replied to e-mails.
  7. blogged.
  8. planned my JISC Winter Fayre presentation.
  9. thought about my Adobe/BETT presentation.
  10. thought about next semester’s subjects, resources and materials.
  11. thought about my forthcoming Staff Development Career Review.
  12. learned a lot about procrastination and creativity from reading blogs and tweets and watching videos.
  13. read up on several of next semester’s subjects on the SQA site.
  14. learned about recent events at SQA.
  15. made a short animation of falling snow.
  16. forgotten stuff that should be in this list.

That seems like quite a productive day, and as I type it’s only half past three in the afternoon!

Categories: Social Media, teaching
  1. December 6, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    What are the groups on Facebook, Colin?
    By the way I saw your presentation on Adobe Connect and was well impressed. That’s got to be the future for education I think!
    All the best
    Alison Pegg

    • colinmaxwell
      December 6, 2010 at 3:41 pm

      Alison, I’ve now added you as a friend on Facebook and added you to the HND group. Sorry if you felt left out in the cold 😉

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