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Committee explores innovative ways to use social media to enhance learning

April 07, 2012|By JULIE E. GREENE | julieg@herald-mail.com

Using a pilot program to make the transition from paper textbooks to digital textbooks, intensifying the use of social media in recruiting new teachers and using social media to get community feedback are among the recommendations a Washington County Public Schools committee listed when charged with exploring innovative ways to use social media to enhance learning, according to a committee report.

Those recommendations and several others were in a March 6 report to the Board of Education. The committee was to regroup and prioritize its recommendations, determining which ones would most benefit the school system, Schools Superintendent Clayton Wilcox said at that board meeting.

According to the report, Wilcox charged the committee with four goals:

  • Increase opportunities for students to learn through social media.
  • Enhance teacher know-how regarding social media.
  • Explore ways to improve communication using social media.
  • Develop parameters to safeguard against social media threats without inhibiting social media as an organizational tool.
The committee was made up of mostly school system employees and a few other people from the community.

Listening to board members’ comments, Wilcox said one thing the school system might begin with is teaching students to be “sophisticated consumers of information they pick up on the Internet.”

As examples, Wilcox cited teaching students not to believe everything they read on the Internet, not to “scream at people” just because they aren’t in front of them and not to claim other sources’ information as their own.

The conversation extended into how to provide Internet access to students outside of school.

“We have an obligation to teach our kids how to use very sophisticated technologies. We also have an obligation to make sure that all our kids have access to technologies so that no one is left behind in kind of the digital millennium, if you will,” said Wilcox, according to a video of the March 6 meeting.

“It’s going to be a challenge. But one of the things that I think we’re going to have to start looking at is what’s the most effective investment of our resources,” Wilcox said.

Is the more efficient investiment buying a $110 hardbound biology textbook or purchasing a $13 software package and then finding a way, perhaps through a lease-purchase option, to get the hardware devices in students’ hands, Wilcox said.

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