The Principal's Principles

A Middle School Principal, striving to make the world a better place, one day at a time.

The New Social Learning

I spent some time this weekend reading “The New Social Learning: A Guide to Transforming Organizations Through Social Learning” by Tony Bingham and Marcia Conner. Their book is a great look on how tools such as YouTube, Twitter, Wikis, and other Internet sites can be used to dramatically build the capacity of any learning organization. They have a website, and offer a wide variety of web resources, as well as simple, practical ideas. So often, we think of social networking as a way to advertise for our organization or share what we are doing. The authors point out that effective use of these tools not only spreads the word, it also builds the collective intelligence of any organization. I thought it was well worth the read.

As a leader of a learning organization, this book left me with quite a few “what if we….” including:

– why don’t we stop debating who has access to video sharing sites like YouTube. Yes, it is possible that some might be inappropriate with this tool. However, many will not and will harness this to improve instruction. In addition, how can we teach appropriate ways to use this technology without access?

– why don’t we encourage every teacher to join Twitter? Not only can we set up hashtags for our staff to collect information and allow kids to collaborate about a class, it also will develop our schools collective Professional Learning Network.

– why don’t we expand from Moodle to displaying some student work using wikis? Clearly, we would have to do some work to protect the identity of our students, but would the motivation to be creative with their writing increase if our kids knew they would be published? What would the ability to log on and be inspired by the work of our kids due for the public perception of our schools?

– why don’t we admit that social networking is not going away, and can be a huge asset to building the collective intelligence of our staff? I am a believer in the theory that “none of us is as smart as all of us.” These tools take us beyond our building and dramatically increase our capacity to learn and solve complex problems.

– why don’t we encourage teachers to contribute to the profession by blogging, tweeting, podcasting, publishing work through a wiki, or building tutorial videos? How would this increase teacher’s confidence, productivity, and feelings of professionalism?

– lastly, why don’t we encourage our support staff to do the same? What if everyone in our organization had the chance to exchange ideas with their peers?

If our goal is to promote learning, we must engage the adults in our organization in the possibilities of social networking.


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