Monday, January 7, 2013

Harness the Power of the Apps and Websites Our Students Use Every Day

Social Media Explained (with Donuts) 

The Pinterest of education.

The Facebook of education.

The YouTube of education.

As the use of technology in the classroom has risen, so has a cottage industry of supposedly classroom-friendly versions of the most popular, powerful and useful websites and apps available.  These new websites and apps aim to fill a demand to take every good idea and create a version that allows teachers, parents and administrators strict control over content and use.

We don't need a "Pinterest of education," because we have Pinterest. We don't need the "Facebook of education," because we have Facebook, the most popular website in the world.  We block and ban the real sites because we can't control everything students do or see.  We spend millions of dollars on people, hardware and software to ban the most relevant technologies available, because we can't be bothered to figure out how to make our lessons more engaging than what these sites and apps offer.

Don't misunderstand: there are certainly many great, useful educational websites and apps and the need for them is growing. Yet while the education sphere rings loud with the call for curicula and lessons that are more relevant to our students' lives, at the same time they are fighting to avoid using things our students and the world around them use in real life every day.

As the next generation of apps that our students actually use comes to your attention--such as Twitter, Tumblr or any number of new photo and video sharing apps--don't go looking for the education version. Start thinking about how you can use the powerful, relevant tools in front of you.

Related:  Educational Games Research » No Need to Reinvent the Wheel to Revolutionize Educational Video Games