Using Facebook in the Elementary School Classroom [Prezi]

Facebook.button.round When it comes to classroom management and keeping parents informed, a lot of teachers use the trusty ol flyer that they send home with students. Another popular tool for classroom management are Yahoo! Groups.

It may come as a surprise to a lot of people, but teachers and other educators are among the highest user demographics of Yahoo! Groups and this is also why we were integrating them into Yahoo! Teachers.

One of the big hurdles for teachers to use Yahoo! Groups was trying to get the parents to sign up and join the group. Given that Facebook has just crossed the 500 million users mark, chances are that most parents already have a Facebook account which makes it the next best choice for student-teacher-parent communication.

I was happily surprised to stumble on (thanks Matt!) this very well done Prezi on using Facebook Pages as a classroom management tool. Erin Schoening, the author of this Prezi, uses Facebook in their 1st Grade classroom to keep parents in the loop and provide narrative feedback to students. This is pretty ingenious.

Are you or any teachers you know using Facebook in the classroom? If so how's it working out? What are the concerns of parents? If you do use Facebook (or Yahoo! Groups for that matter) don't forget to get those permission slips signed.

Update: I've recently partnered with Facebook and co-authors Linda Phillips and Dr. BJ Fogg to write the official Facebook for Educators Guide! The guide is also available in Spanish, Portuguese and German. We also have a Facebook Page (come join us!), free handouts and more!


Digital Parenting Resources: Teens, Social Networking & Cyberbullying

Social.montage One of the things I enjoy most about my work is having the opportunity to talk with parents, educators and brands to dispel some of the myths or fears around kids' use of social media.

No matter the audience, my message is pretty consistent: Don't panic!

I'm also frequently asked to share some of my favorite digital parenting links, tips and other resources. So here we go! I've sorted through my bookmarks and put together this (hopefully) handy handout. Feel free to print it, tweet it and share it with anyone you think would find it helpful.

Digital Parenting

I'll be updating it as new issues and resources pop up on my radar. If you have a great resource, please feel free to share it in the comments section and I'll add it to a future draft of this handout.


Dan Rosensweig becomes CEO of Textbook Rental Service Chegg.com

Chegg Dan Rosensweig is leaving his job overseeing Activision's Guitar Hero video game franchise to run Chegg. Chegg.com has been trying to shake up the college textbook industry by allowing students to rent the material required for their courses. The hiring was announced Tuesday.

Rosensweig is best known for his four-year stint as Yahoo's chief operating officer, where he worked closely with the Internet company's former CEO, Terry Semel. Rosensweig left Yahoo! after a management reshuffling in 2006.

This isn't Mr. Rosenweig's first foray into the education technology space. While at Yahoo! he was actively involved with my team on the Yahoo! For Teachers project. You can catch Dan's cameo in this promo video for Yahoo! Teachers. Dan is also current member of the DonorsChoose National Advisory Board.


Weekly Wrap: Girl Scouts Launch LMK, Texting & Teen Brains, Kia 'Soul Collective', Coca-Cola's Sounds of Buzz, Twitter & Mourning for Michael Jackson, 2010 Twilight Convention, Yodeling Mamas & More

Girl Scouts & Microsoft Launch Online Safety Site: LMK (text speak for 'Let Me Know') was created with help from teens and from industry experts, to provide teens with the know-how to safely navigate their digital life and help parents to understand what their teens are doing online. Which is a good thing, since a research conducted by Common Sense Media  found that most parents are pretty clueless what their kids are doing on social sites. [Girl Scouts of America] [Common Sense Media]

University of California 11th Campus Online? : The University of California's 10 campuses, facing severe budget cuts, may no longer be able to educate as many students as before. One surprising solution in a Los Angeles Times opinion piece: Open an 11th campus, online. Which, according to a new study reports that online education actually beats face-to-face classroom learning, might not be such a bad idea. [Chronicle of Higher Education] [Ypulse]

Kia "Soul Collective': In an effort to deepen their ties with youth, Kia has also launched a nationwide, youth-oriented program, titled "Kia Presents The Soul Collective." As part of the campaign, Kia is partnering with young and modern thought leaders, brought together to form The Soul Collective, from different disciplines including music, film, design, and gaming to show exactly "how they roll" through their respective mediums. [Barking Robot] [Kia Motors America]

Coca-Cola & BuzzNet 'Sounds of Buzz': Coke, BuzzNet & Stereogum are partnering together on a site that provides live concert & music festival updates, music videos, news & ticketing information. So, are you ready for American Idiot the musical? Also, PacSun, the premier surf clothing wear company, has a newly updated music site. Check it out, it's pretty sweet! [BuzzNet] [PacSun] 

Tweet O' The Week: "I swear one day I'll be able to convince some members of my family that new technology isn't just a fad." (via @plasticbagUK) [Twitter]

Texting may rewire young brains: Texting is not only a nuisance for teachers struggling to keep their students' attention - it's a brain-altering habit, according to a new study. Researchers say text messaging trains young people to be speedy yet sloppy. [The Globe & Mail, via @sydneyeve]

Troubled Teens Learn Culinary Lessons: Founded in 1982, the Teen Home serves girls who are pregnant or new moms. The facility can house up to 12 girls and their babies, many of whom have been ordered into state custody or are homeless. A juvenile-court judge has recruited a world renowned chef to teach them the culinary basics. [Salt Lake Tribune]

Yodeling Mamas: Yahoo! has launched 'Yodeling Mamas' a new parenting blog written by Yahoos who are moms, including--Jeanne Moeschler--one of my favorite Yahoos! She was a great advocate of the Yahoo! For Teachers & Ypulse Totally Wired Teacher Award. [Yahoo!]

Speed Round: UK Music research highlights the complexity of music consumption in 14-24 year-olds, the folks at @WebEcology analyzed expressions of sadness on Twitter when mourning Michael Jackson, Pew Internet reports that teens' use of mobiles has increased recently (but may not be as pervasive as you think), Twilighters are the new Trekkies, Time Warner and YouTube team up to carry Cartoon Network clips & ad sales, Gossip Girl is also making its way to YouTube, some are claiming that mobile phones have achieved more than other types of aid in Africa, Nissan hopes kids will Live Wired, Die Young and finally......Beloit College professors hope their annual 'Mindset List' is an antidote to ‘Boomer arrogance'. [UK Music] [Web Ecology] [Pew Internet] [Creation Entertainment] [Bloomberg] [YouTube Blog] [All Africa] [MediaPost] [USA Today]


Joan Ganz Cooney Center Study on Mobile Learning

Last week the Joan Ganz Cooney Center released a new report on how mobile technologies can be used in education titled, Pockets of Potential. You can access the full-length version on their site.

The Cooney Mobile Learning Study outlines some of the key opportunities for mobile learning:
  • Encourage "anywhere, anytime" learning
  • Reach Underserved children
  • Improve 21st Century Social Interactions
  • Fit with Learning Environments
  • Enable a personalize Learning Experience
The Cooney study cites the need to create a Digital Teachers Corps to provide educators with the training and skills to integrate mlearning activities into the classroom. While I agree, I would also say that school administrators, both at the school and district level, need to provide the leadership, support and physical infrastructure required to make mlearning (mobile learning) a reality.

When I was working at Yahoo! on the Yahoo! Teachers project, I had the opportunity to spend the summer teaching educators around the country how to use web technologies in their classroom.

Time and time again I heard from teachers that their efforts to integrate technology into their classroom are stifled by district policy, draconian filtering policies and a lack of technological resources. Many times teachers get labeled, especially when it comes to technology, as unwilling to learn how to use new technologies.

While that may have been true a decade ago, almost every educator I met expressed concern that schools were working on an outdated model and that they recognized that the way kids learn has drastically changed.

They also expressed that there is a severe lack of professional development opportunities and support from district, state and federal administrators to provide leadership and change in their schools.

Since they work on the frontline, we also need to include teachers in this discussion. There is often a disconnect between theory cooked up by policy wonks and the reality of the classroom.

One of the other areas of concern, not just for mobile learning, is the lack of good, quality educational content. It's great if we outfit kids with an Apple iPhone or Palm Pre, but then what? When we talk about mobile learning we often focus just on the hardware and technology.

Quality educational content is often left out of the equation. The OpenCourseWare movement is helping fill this void in the higher education space, but the K-12 space suffers from a real lack of appropriate, relevant and quality content. In addition to the technology, we need to develop a repository of open content materials for our K-12 students, teachers and parents.

Finally, in addition to educating teachers, administrators and other members of the education ecosystem, it's vital that we also educate parents on the benefits of mobile learning. Many teachers are still trying to convince parents that the Internet is a relevant learning tool, that blogging has educational merits and that Wikipedia is a credible source of information.

Mobile Phones, Learning & Gen Y

For the most part, colleges and K-12 are just beginning realize the potential of mobile technology to improve the quality of student learning. In order to meet their students changing expectations and digital learning styles, instructors need to be provided with professional development opportunities to experiment with current and emerging web-based technologies.

Clearly, the spread of mobile technology into both the cognitive and social spheres requires educators to reexamine and redefine our teaching and learning methods. The future of learning has already arrived in the European Union, Africa and Southeast Asia, and if the United States doesn't act now we will be even further behind the rest of the world.

At the 2006 International Consumer Electronic Show, Yahoo! CEO Terry Semel outlined the explosive growth of mobile technology. According to Semel, there are 900 million personal computers in the world. But this number pales in comparison to the 2 billion mobile phones currently being used in the world.

Even more astounding is how mobile devices are increasingly being used as the primary way in which people connect to the Internet. In fact, Semel notes that 50% of the Internet users outside the US will most likely never use a personal computer to connect to the Internet. Rather, they will access information, community, and create content on the Internet via a mobile device.

The use of mobile technologies is growing and represents the next great frontier for learning. Increasingly we will continue to see academic and corporate research invest, design and launch new mobile applications, many of which can be used in a learning context.

Learning 3.0 will be about harnessing the ubiquity of the mobile phone/handheld device and using it as an educational tool. A few quick facts on mobile technology, Gen Y and education:
  • A 2005 study conducted by the USA-based Kaiser Family Foundation found that, although 90% of teen online access occurs in the home, most students also have web access via mobile devices such as a mobile phone (39%), portable game (55%), or other web-enabled handheld device (13%). [link]
  • Palm estimates that mobile and handheld devices for public schools will be a 300 million dollar market. A few progressive school districts in the USA have already started using mobile devices in the classroom. [link]
  • Australia is emerging as a leader in mobile learning (mlearning). [link] [link]
  • The National College of Ireland, University of Scotland and other European universities have already started experimenting and integrating mobile technologies into their classes. [link] [link]
  • A study by the Irish National Teachers Organization (INTO) found that students are using their mobile phones for just about everything--except making phone calls.
  • Some developing countries, like Kenya, are bypassing the use of desktop computers all together and using handheld WI-FI devices and open source software to reduce the cost of education in rural areas. [link] [link]
  • Mobile School is a Belgian non-profit organization who is using mobile technology to provide educational opportunities for homeless children. [link]
  • Mobile phones are in the early phases of being used for student testing and assessment. [link]
  • YouTube, the popular online video community, has an educational channel that allows educational institutions to upload video clips via their mobile phones, PDAs, or other wireless handheld devices.
  • SparkNotes are now available for download on both the iPod (text and audio format) or via SparkMobile, a SMS version for mobile phones.
  • iTunesU & iPhone Apps have allowed an unprecedented amount of educational content, learning games, video & applications in the hands of students & educators.

Closing Thoughts

The Cooney research is a landmark study that I hope will move both the education technology and mobile learning discussion forward. Perhaps the release of this study, an education technology friendly president and education secretary is creating a "perfect storm" for real change to take place in our education system.

As a nation, we can no longer afford to sit back and watch schools in the U.K., Australia and Africa move forward while we continue to model our schools on an outdated agrarian, 18th Century education model.

Benefits of this learning space for the students are threefold: potential for maximum participation (all can be posting simultaneously), increased interest (authentic use of technology, so little technical advice or support is needed), and student motivation was noticeable and achieved possibly because of the increased peer feedback and collaboration.

The convergence of mobile and social technologies, on-demand content delivery, and early adoption of portable media devices by students provides academia with an opportunity to leverage these tools into learning environments that seem authentic to the digital natives filling the 21st Century classroom.

The future is here. It's time we act.

Related Resources


CyberSurvey: What Kids, Parents and Teachers Are Doing Online

In the spring of 2007 The Cyber Safety and Ethics Initiative (CSEI) and the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) initiated the world’s largest cyber research project, which by January of 2008 involved surveying 40,000+ K-12th grade students along with hundreds of parents and teachers.

Here are some of the key findings among students, parents and educators:

Key student findings:

  • Children have unsupervised access to a computer and the internet at home as early as age 5, and that by age 7, 15% report that someone was mean to them online, while 7% admit they have been mean to someone online;
  • Contrary to public perception, the majority of cyber offenses involving children, t/weens, teens and young adults are perpetuated by their peers, not strangers;
  • The onset of cyber bullying beginning in the second grade and it’s not always the adult predator. Reports show that 45% of the cases are friends victimizing friends.
  • 23.2% admit to lying about their age online;
  • 1 in 4 children between the ages 9-18 report that they have been victimized online by one or more forms of abuse within the past school year that was not reported to a grown up.

Key parent survey findings:

  • 90% of surveyed parents report supervising the home computing activities of their children;
  • 14% report they have caught their children visiting inappropriate websites;
  • 61% parents report that their children access the web from a private place in the home;
  • A majority of parents report that their children use the web to do research for school (78%), play video games (61%) and listening to music or watching movies (50%);

Key Teacher Survey Findings:

  • Teachers report that they feel confident that their schools are well prepared to use technology to facilitate student learning;
  • However, few teachers feel prepared or feel they are prepared to teach students about Internet safety, social computing ethics or digital literacy;
  • Teachers report that there is a lack of or inconsistent professional development and/or training on information security, social computing and web safety;
  • Educators are divided on the issue of using technology in the classroom and whether or not students know more about information technology than they do.

Overall, it looks like parents are doing a good job of keeping an eye on their kids and what they are doing on the Internet. That said, most safety experts recommend that kids use the computer and surf the web from public areas of their home.

While the good news is that the stereotype of the Dateline NBC-esque sexual predator is far from reality, the bad news is that students are being bullied online by their peers. This is a topic that should be addressed both at school by teachers and at home by parents.

In summer 2008, as part of the Yahoo! Teachers Tour, I had the opportunity with my colleague Karon Weber to lead workshops across the country and teach educators how to use web and social computing  technologies in their classroom. Time and time again we heard from teachers that this was exactly the type of professional development that was sorely needed.

Moreover, they reported that they were lacking hands-on, practical training on how web and social computing can be used in the classroom to prepare educators for the influx of digital learners filling their classrooms.

You can review the entire findings of the RIT CyberSafety report, including results broken down by grade level, by clicking here (pdf).

Related Resources


Barking Robot Goes BigTime

You may notice something new around here on the Barking Robot. Yep, I've got a new (totally awesome) header designed by BT Livermore over at BT Illustration. Pretty slick, eh?

I stumbled on BT's artwork a few years ago on Etsy. He had a fantastic linocut of Jack Kerouac, one of my favorite authors, for sale. I quickly bid on the piece and now it hangs over my desk.

I instantly became a fan of BT and have several more of his prints--ranging from robots, Abraham Lincoln, to Russian cosmonauts---hanging on my walls. Not to mention some robot buttons and a couple tee shirts to boot. BT also did the buttons featuring Earl the Owl for the Yahoo! For Teachers project.

If you're looking for some art for your home or need some illustration work done for your web projects, why not support indie artists and give BT a call?

Thanks Matt.

Related Resources


Note: I recieved no compensation (goods or services) for this wildly enthusiastic endorsement of BT. Vote for BT. He's a good egg. That's all. Now carry on...


sixThings: Quality Standards for Publishers

Earlier this week sixThings, the oldest and largest standards alignment company in the country, announced that it will give its state learning standards database to any publisher that exclusively uses sixThing's alignment services.

When I was working at Yahoo! I had the pleasure of working with Amy James, the founder of sixThings, on integrating her standards database into the Yahoo! For Teachers service. Amy knows standards inside and out.

What sold our team on sixThings is that, unlike her competitors, Amy's team of former teachers does the correlations and alignments by hand. There are other companies that do alignments electronically, merging and mashing up databases of standards, but they are not as accurate and not as valuable to classroom teachers.

You can learn more about this program by contacting sixThings.

Amy is also the author of the Success Series of books designed to help parents can learn about the latest teaching methods and how best to assess their child's academic progress. The activities show how to take effective steps to strengthen their child's weaknesses, supplement their education, and help them prepare for standardized tests.

Related Resources

Note: I am currently working as a consultant to Knowledge Essentials Media, a sister company of sixThings.


HP Launches 7,000 Mini Laptops in Fresno Schools

Last week at the 2008 National Educational Computing Conference (NECC), HP announced that they would be deploying 7,000 of their HP Mini Note laptops in the Fresno Unified School District.

This is part of a growing trend, kicked off with the introduction of the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) initiative, of personal computer companies providing more students with access to computers and the vast array of resources on the web.

In addition to providing students with affordable technology, the program also includes free online professional development courses to help educators learn how to effectively integrate technology into their curriculum.

This is a smart move by HP. So many vendor's throw technology at teachers without any support or professional development resources or handouts. When I was working on the Yahoo! Teachers project we made a conscious effort to provide relevant, easy-to-follow and just in time professional development materials for educators and they really appreciated that we went the extra step to provide those materials.

Related Resources


Adobe, Acrobat & Buzzword

Adobe has launched Acrobat.com a new suite of web-based services that includes, Buzzword, an online word processor that will--especially in the education 2.0 community--go head-to-head with Google Docs.

According to the Acrobat blog the new Acrobat Suite is comprised of three distinctive applications:

  • Adobe Buzzword for creating and reviewing documents together.
  • Adobe ConnectNow for holding full-fledged online web conferences/video conferencing with up to three people.
  • The Acrobat.com organizer for sharing 5GB of files with others online, including the ability to convert 5 documents to PDF and embed your documents in blogs, wikis or other web pages.

Buzzword is compatible with MS Word and also allows you to export your document as a RTF, PDF or MS Word file. It also includes many features to allow for easy web-based collaboration such as real time editing, version control and a slick interface that allows you to easily insert and scale pictures in a Buzzword document.

One of the issues we faced on Yahoo! For Teachers was creating a rich text editor that was easy-to-use, compatible with MS Word and easily allowed users to insert and manipulate images in a document. I spent some time this afternoon playing around with Buzzword and I have to say that I'm pretty impressed with what Adobe has put together.

One feature that I didn't see (and if anyone finds it, let me know) was a Creative Commons plug-in (similar to the one in MS Office) that automatically inserts a CC license into a Buzzword document. I feel that the inclusion of this type of plug-in would provide teachers with an opportunity to discuss copyright and digital literacy issues with their students. I also believe that a CC plug-in for Buzzword would provide a boost to the open educational resources (OER) movement.

As education continues to move towards the web, these types of collaborative tools will be increasingly important. It's clear that Adobe has spent a lot of thought into this product and the result is an impressive suite of free tools that will surely be popular within the education community. This type of virtual collaborative environment also appeals to the digital sensibilities of Gen Y students.

The Acrobat suite of tools are very impressive and just may well provide the first real peek into the 21st Century classroom.Side out: Adobe.

Game on.

Related Resources


O Ambassadors: Oprah's Youth Movement

Oprah Winfrey, in partnership with Free the Children & Oprah's Angel Network, have announced the launch a new social change organization for youth called O Ambassadors.

This is a grass roots effort and educators and students alike are encouraged to sign-up and form their own O Ambassador chapters. The O Ambassador program hopes to have 1,000 new clubs for the new school year.

The program has several goals: connecting children around the world, encouraging them to be more aware about the world around them, and then empowering them to take active steps to "create lasting change by working toward the UN Millennium Development Goals."

The O Ambassador website also has a myriad of international education resources for teachers. These resources include videos, lesson plans and activities that teachers can use in their classroom. Another good site, not affiliated with the O Ambassador program, is the International Education website sponsored by the Asia Society.

It's exciting to see this new community taking shape and to see American kids looking beyond their own borders. This is similar to the goals I had for the Yahoo! For Teachers project, and it's exciting to see someone else picking up the torch and moving forward.

While there are a lot of really great organizations that are trying to connect kids and teachers, I've long held the belief that it will take money, a big brand and lots of patience to make it happen. And it looks as though Ms. Winfrey is stepping up to the challenge.

Donating money to an organization is always a leap of faith. You send money with the hope that the organization will really "do good" with your donation. I've personally worked with the Free the Children team and I can tell you with 100% certainty that they are worthy of your trust.

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PBWiki, Students & Cybersafety

On Tuesday May 14th (4PM, PDT) the PBWiki team will host a cybersafety webinar for educators on keeping students safe online.

You'll also learn more about PBwiki security settings and hear safety tips from Linda Uhrenholt, an AT&T Education Advocate and leader in cybersafety at CTAP.

I met Linda Uhrenholt last summer at our Yahoo! For Teachers workshop in San Diego and she is an amazing and dynamic teacher. I have no doubt you'll learn a lot and benefit from her expertise.

This event is free, but you need to register here: Cybersafety - PBwiki guide to keeping students safe online.

Related Resources


Leaving Yahoo! For Teachers

I just wanted to write a quick blog post to announce that I've left the Yahoo! For Teachers project. It's been an amazing run, but it's time to go. I know everyone has a lot of questions, and while I do have answers, I'm not at liberty to disclose them at this point in time.

I would like to extend a huge "thank you" to all the educators from around the world who have contributed and shared their time, ideas and knowledge with the Yahoo! For Teachers community. I feel so very honored and lucky to have had the opportunity to travel around the country and meet so many outstanding teachers.

Secondly, thank you to all my colleagues at Yahoo! who freely volunteered their skills, time, energy and knowledge to help take Yahoo! For Teachers from an idea into reality.

There are so many people from across Yahoo! who have a passion for education and the teaching profession, who never failed to provide us with the resources we needed in order to support the educators in the Yahoo! For Teachers community. Thank you to all of you.

I would also be remiss if I didn't put the spotlight on two of my colleagues with whom none of this grand adventure would have been possible (or nearly as fun!). So a special thanks to Bill Scott and Karon Weber. We worked hard, partied with NASA, ran workshops & conference booths, and had a whole lot of fun in the process.

Thanks again to both educators and Yahoo's alike. If there's anything I can do for you, please don't hesitate to ask.

Related Resources


Survey: Microsoft Education & Digital Copyright

Microsoft has released the results of a study it conducted regarding teens, illegal downloads and copyright. Among the findings:

  • American teenagers between 7th and 10th grades are less likely to illegally download content from the Internet when they know the laws for downloading and sharing content online;
  • 49% of respondents said they are not familiar with the rules and guidelines for downloading images, literature, music, movies and software from the Internet;

  • 11% said they understood the rules of copyright and illegal downloading of content "very well";

  • 76% of boys and 68% of girls said that they would not continue after being told the rules to download or share content over the Internet without paying for it.

In conjunction with the findings of the survey, Microsoft Education has developed model curriculum and resources for educators to help them educate students on the issues around copyright, digital literacy and illegal downloading of content.

In addition they have created, MyBytes, a site where t/weens can learn more about copyright and "develop their own intellectual property and assign usage rights by mixing music online to create a custom riff that they can download as a ring tone."

I think it would also be interesting to survey teachers and see how well they understand "educational fair use" and other issues around copyright. My guess is that they are as confused about what digital content they are allowed to use as the rest of us.

Thankfully, organizations like Creative Commons are taking the lead on the copyright issue, providing a set of alternative licenses to traditional copyright while the lawyers and publishing/recording/movie industry figure it out for themselves.

Related Resources