Birmingham eSafety strategy launch

November 17, 2009

Earlier this week I was made aware of the fact that Simon Whitehouse from Digital Birmingham had used some of my work with 4OQ on web tools at the launch of the new Birmingham eSafety Strategy.

You can read his write up of the event here, and his presentation is below.

It sounds like our work provoked much discussion, with some people asserting that is raised “concerns about using social media tools in practice and how it might lead to inappropriate behaviour and a blurring of the relationship between (in this case) youth workers and young people.”. I would have been interested to hear these points of view, and the chance to respond, especially as I feel a lot of the thought that has gone into my work is not really visible from looking at the end products.
It was really encouraging to see my work being defended by Andy Pyper, the lead on e-Safety within Link2ICT, and Tony Howell, the Director of Childrens Services for Birmingham. It is nice to see figures of the establishment in our city looking at what we are doing, and being realistic about weighing up the benefits with the dangers rather than clamping down on it, as large establishments can sometimes do in matters of eSafety.
As an NQT it is also encouraging to see what I am doing recognised and debated at this level, and has encouraged me that despite this year being challenging it is well worth pushing on with what I am trying to achieve.
The first part is about Home Access programmes (which looks very interesting), our work begins on slide 26.
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Using twitter on a school trip

November 17, 2009

4OQ Visit Selly Manor

I always think one of the most powerful uses of the social media that has grown around twitter is for reporting and reflecting on live events on location.  Some time ago a friend and I experimented with some ideas for a club night based around social media and, although we eventually shelved it, it made me think about using social media for our school trip today to Selly Manor in Birmingham.

I have been using twitter and blogging with my class since September to reflect on learning, share their work with an audience, and get them to the different places on the web easily on their 1:1 netbooks. Some of this has been through twitterific on my iPhone , which has allowed me to tweet their reflections outside of the classroom, and get them all to links quickly without having to return to my own computer.

Today we used Twitterific to document our trip, both using text and its capability to take  photograph with my iPhone and upload it straight away to our twitter news feed. I also used the iPhone app tweetmic pro , which allows you to make audio recordings and immediatly upload them to your twitter feed. Whilst I had to mediate the text updates as I am the only one proficient with the iPhone keyboard, this allowed the children to more immediatly and personally make their observations and reflections.

So, whilst this is a very ‘cool’ thing to do, many people may be asking what the value of it is for the children. Personally I think there are a few things it adds to our trip, the first is a nice timeline of the day, and the activities we engaged in. Whilst this could easily be achieved using a class blog or just a camera, the ability to mix text, audio and images and have them arranged chronologically should be very useful when it comes to reflecting on the trip when we are back at school. Of course this could be achieved by other means, but it is so immediate using twitter. Once it has happened and been captured it is documented, and there is no need for someone to upload photographs, organise them into order and publish them.

This immediacy has another benefit- although we were short of time when we got back to school we could immediately open up the twitter feed and all the material we had collected was there to be reflected on straight away, even as the children were sat in their coats waiting for home time. No doubt some of them will have also logged on when they got home and shared their day with their parents well before I would have had time to update our class blog.

Another purpose of these tools was to encourage reflection on learning throughout the day. Undoubtedly this could have been done by teacher questioning, but the act of recording and publishing their reflections should be a huge factor in engaging the children and encouraging them to think more meaningfully about what they are experiencing. Let’s face it; you are going to try harder with your reflections when being broadcast to the world than if you are scribbling them on a piece of paper that will often be only seen by your teacher.

I was really hoping to use these tools today to encourage some solid reflection from the children, but given the lack of thinking time beforehand, and the fact this was my first school trip as an NQT I did not fully achieve what I had hoped. We certainly created a record of the day, which hopefully will help with later reflection. However, the amount and level of reflections were not quite what I had hoped for as my time and energy was largely taken up by making sure none of the children got on the wrong bus, fell down the stairs of the tudor house or got lost going to the toilets! Despite this I do think with a bit more experience these tools could be really useful in encouraging reflection and extending learning on a school trip, and I will certainly be using them in a more focused way next time.

Twitpics: http://img188.yfrog.com/i/gofk.jpg/

http://img256.yfrog.com/i/4slq.jpg/

http://img685.yfrog.com/i/v36.jpg/

Audio tweet: http://tmic.fm/ox6b1o54azd

Our class twitter news feed: http://twitter.com/4oq

Class blog on the trip: http://class40q.wordpress.com/2009/11/17/trip-to-selly-manor/