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Technology's Promise to Education: Connecting Through Social Networks

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Technology's Promise to Education: Connecting Through Social Networks

Here's an excerpt from my speech at the NAIS Annual Conference on how teaching and learning will be transformed in the decade ahead:

I believe technology can help teachers be more effective and make learning more interesting. I've been watching what's been happening with these technologies very closely. Despite the clear momentum, we are still very early in this movement. There are so many entrepreneurs, so many programs and resources available, it can be challenging to know where to start.

I see four main 'flavors' of online learning: reimagining textbooks, scaling our best teachers, connecting through social networks, and personalizing learning.

Connecting Through Social Networks
Many teachers have already been successful by using online discussion boards. Social media can take things a lot further, helping class discussion continue online and asynchronously, extending the experience out of the classroom. It's about social learning experiences where students and teachers collaborate, experiment with knowledge and awards badges to encourage social learning.

  • ePals makes finding other classes to collaborate with really easy. Over 700,000 educators use it to find project ideas and partner up with classes from anywhere around the world. Students communicate with each other online, sometimes over Skype, and share their final work with the community.

  • Discussion boards are probably the simplest way to make learning a little more social. EdModo takes that further through free social networking designed for K-12. More than six million teachers and students have turned to EdModo to share content, exchange ideas and collaborate on projects.

There really is no limit to what teachers can do if they have the right resources. A decade from now, finding and using the best content and technology will be as natural as opening a book. Tablets and high-speed Internet access will be ubiquitous. Each student will have a learning map that helps chart their interests and learning path inside and outside the classroom. And the concept of the textbook will fade—replaced by easy online access to the best lectures and course materials available.

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