How to Use Social Media for Learning ... and homeschooling

I just read this article that relates to the image above and wanted to capture it's message here and share it. Ever since my trip to the Vatican Bloggers Meeting, I have become more and more interested in the realm of social media and it's possibilities. There's so much to learn as the technologies and media outlets are increasing exponentially. But, I feel it is a worthwhile challenge, especially for Catholics and homeschoolers.

In spreading the Catholic faith, social media can uniquely partner with the Magisterial teaching of the Holy Roman Catholic faith. There is a right and wrong, a black and white that can be found in what the Catholic Church teaches. It's been said that it's how today's Sts. Peter and Paul would write and reach out to evangelize and find the lost sheep. It's reaching them where they are.

For homeschooling, it opens up avenues of information and resources for both the student and the parent to assess and potentially use. More and future learning will happen online and via media. Teleconferences, webinars, adobe whiteboards, DVD teachers, Skype, degrees online and learning via the iPad, these words are not so foreign anymore, they're becoming mainstream...especially with homeschool curriculum providers and parents.

See original article here --> Posted by Lockergnome on Aug 3, 2011 (My notes below on excerpts)

"Social media can be a powerful tool for learning, and even more powerful are the lasting relationships you can build while using this incredible platform. Students from virtually every corner of the globe have discovered the benefits of leveraging social media to help them learn and understand the subject they’re studying. Here are some tips on how to use social media for learning:

Seek and Join Groups That Actively Discuss the Topic You’re Studying

Where a book and a professor are good, a group of people with an understanding of a subject is great. Social media sites such as Facebook, Google+, and others allow us the ability to connect with thought leaders and other people with a wide range of knowledge.

You can find groups, made up of students or enthusiasts on the subject, that actively discuss the topic you’re studying. Becoming active in these communities can allow you to see the subject matter from a new perspective, which can help greatly when it comes time to write on the topic.

(I have found this helpful in homeschooling, as well. Joining Yahoogroups focusing on curriculum and faith have put me in touch with countless resources and "experts." I'm on MODGfamilies, DYOCCfamilies, HeartofSeton, CHCchat, CCE [CatholicClassicalEd], MaterAmabilisTTF, CatholicCMason, KeepingItCatholic, College4CathHS, and AtHomeScience. When I have a question, I know where to go for advice. Sources like these can be found on FACEBOOK as well.)

Find Others Who Are Covering the Same Material and See if You Can Arrange a Virtual Study Group

Finding a good study group doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself to students in your own class, school, or even state. You can leverage the tools available through these networks to connect with other students, regardless of their location, to study and discuss the lessons. Virtual study groups are especially important for students who take courses online where a physical campus isn’t available to you to help connect with others. (MODG does this via their LS classes, online homeschool classes. My sons have benefited from this with Latin & Classical Music classes, so far. This upcoming year my oldest will add Chemistry and History Learning Support classes to his school week.)

It’s Often Easier to Understand Material if Explained in a Different Way

It would be an understatement to say that some of the material presented in classroom settings can be difficult to grasp, especially for some who learn better in an environment that differs from the classroom. Through communicating with others, you may be able to have the material explained to you in a different way. (Brings to mind Bill Gates who shared the YouTube teaching site of Khan Academy for teaching his children math. )

New Tools for Learning Exist to Challenge Outmoded Forms of Education

Learning used to be a matter of reading a chapter in a textbook and writing information down using a pencil. This works for some students, but far more effective methods of collaboration and learning have been discovered since then. Why depend on the technology of yesterday to give you an education intended to prepare you for the world of tomorrow? (Yes!)

Powerful tools such as are available that allow you to collaborate with others to create documentation to suit any number of needs. Wolfram Alpha is an incredible calculation engine available to anyone with a browser, and Google Docs can help you put all this information down (even with the help of others) in a place where you don’t have to worry about losing your data in the event of a sudden power outage or hard drive crash.

Go Directly to the Experts — They Might Have a Twitter Account, Active on Google+, Facebook, Etc.

Sometimes, the best help is only a few clicks away. In many cases, experts in various fields are very open to connecting with students learning the subjects they love. Don’t be afraid to connect with someone if you feel their insight might be of help to you. The most they could do is ignore you or tell you they’re too busy.

Being able to take an active role in discovering the information that you’re studying makes a big difference in how your thesis, term paper, or report is received by your professor.

Coordinate a Hangouts on Google+ for Small, Virtual Classes

Google+ has an excellent collaboration tool available in hangouts. With it, you can meet face-to-face with other people around the world and create a virtual classroom from the comfort of your home or dorm room. These over-the-Web meetings can enhance the learning experience and better equip each member with the understanding they need of the subject matter.

For learning institutions, this can enable teachers to conduct smaller and more personal classes with students. In cases where some students need a little extra explanation, this is an extremely viable solution. (An incredible resource for this is the Catholic

Follow Specific Hashtags on Twitter for Mining Knowledge

Hashtags are fascinating. They allow you to tag your tweets and other social messages in a way that enables other users to find them with a simple search. Searching for specific hashtags can help you find others who are speaking about the same subject and connect with them through the network. Using programs such as TweetDeck, you can choose to follow specific hashtags and keep updated as to any conversation taking place about the topic. ( I follow #homeschool and #catholichomeschool, I imagine you could hashtag grades and subject too.)

Cruise Through YouTube for New Voices, Perspectives, and Teachers on a Topic

YouTube is a great place to find and share information. Some YouTube users have filled their channels with helpful tutorials and lessons that you can readily find and explore. If you’re stuck on a specific type of problem, seeing someone work through it on YouTube can help you make the connection and better retain the information. By replacing an hour of television viewing with a cruise through YouTube for more educational material, you can discover new voices and perspectives. (In homeschooling, I use YouTube for science videos, especially 9th grade MODG and later biology dissections, for history- Mussilini comes alive when you see and hear him speak - and for poetry... Shakespeare is easier to recite when you hear famed actor, Ian McKellen do it! Phonics videos on YouTube helped my youngest student learn to read, too. The folks at Netflix reminded me that TeacherTube is a great resource as well.)

Look to Others’ Experiences as Learning Tools, Wherever They May Be Posted

Don’t limit your search for knowledge to the news stream on your Facebook account. Take time to check the blogs and various other online postings by thought leaders. Often, leaders in a specific industry will share bits and pieces of their wisdom freely through articles (like this one) in hopes that someone may gain some level of understanding on the subject(s) to which they’ve become a trusted voice. Subscribe to newsletters and participate in their communities. This is a great way to gain wisdom from the experiences of others, even outside the classroom. (This has been invaluable for me in blogging. I have learned so much about my faith and homeschooling and blogging from reading other blogs. In commenting, I have encouraged relationships and brought readers to my blog...same with participating in the yahoogroups, FACEBOOK, G+ and TWITTER.)

If Nothing Else, Simple Observation is an Amazing Teaching Tool

Sometimes, it pays to just sit back and enjoy all the information floating around you in cyberspace. (Well, I've always been a student of that, a watcher. I learn that way, visually.) You don’t have to be an active student in school or university to understand the fundamental advantages the wisdom of the crowd can give you. Every day you spend free time actively seeking out information online is one less day you are spending watching mindless programs that do little to improve your outlook on life. Knowledge is a gift, and one freely available to anyone with an Internet connection and the drive to seek it out." (Learning is about connecting...and there are many news ways to connect today!)


Lisa said...

Thanks for such an informative post! There is so much good that can be done (and is being done) via the Internet. So many are now heeding the call to evangelize, and of course, the opportunities for us as homeschoolers are endless. It is sad, however, how the devil can find ways for the evil to bring such sin into people's lives, as well, but we are winning if we continue to use it to spread God's Word and His Church!
God bless,

Tiffany said...

Great post, thank you!

Kathleen's Catholic said...

Thank you, Allison, for this bucket--no--truck load of information. As my children are getting older and aching to use social networks, I'm so glad to have this information to help them learn how to use this new medium in a healthy and respectful way.

J.C. said...

Wow, Allison, thank you for your amazing and exhaustive list of resources (this and your current post!) We've used MODG exclusively for almost 10 years now, and I have yet to find a functioning forum or discussion group! I have tried applying numerous times to at least two, with no luck. Do you know if the one you list is still functioning or how I can contact the moderator? Thanks...although I won't expect an answer anytime soon after that last enormous post! :)

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