The Socially Networked Classroom

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This evening I had the opportunity to start a great and timely new book.  Last month I ordered a copy of The Socially Networked Classroom – Teaching in the New Media Age by William Kist after seeing it on my Amazon Recommends List.  For a couple of weeks its been sitting on the book shelf in my office, but tonight I cracked it open. I’m only 30 or so pages in and I already love it!  Truthfully, I was captivated by the end of the first paragraph.  Kylene Beers opens The Socially Networked Classroom with a foreward in which she describes asking a principal “What type of student will not do well in this school?”  This insightful and unusual question leads to the principal admitting that the students who will struggle most in his school are those preparing for a 21st century career.

“We’re creating another generation of students who know how to consume information, when what we need to be nurturing is a generation that knows how produce new ideas.”

In The Socially Networked Classroom, Kist describes how we can prepare students for the 21st century by linking together literacy, technology, and social media.  Through this process we will create a generation of students who can not only produce new ideas, but also effectively consume information as well.  In the second chapter Kist writes,

“Now we face an age in which we are shifting to a screen-based society (Kress, 2003) in which much of our reading will be from a screen, and therefore reading will not only encompass print but also images, sound, and motion as well.  Visual literacy skills should be included if we truly want to prepare students for this new kind of reading.” pg. 25

Loaded with tons of classroom activities and provocative questions the book is highly practical.  However towards the middle of the first chapter Kist asks three main questions he seems to cycle back to throughout the portion of the text I’ve read so far:

  1. How do new forms (of text) transform writing?
  2. Who is the audience for our writing in the new media age?
  3. How do we form communities?

All three questions are very interesting to me, however the third one really has me pondering because I’m starting to see that Kist is really asking – How do we form communities both face-to-face and online?  What does it mean to “write” in each of these communities?  For example, if you have a Facebook page just take a moment to look at what you have posted.  Would you have said or shared the same things in real life?  My bookmark is currently sitting on my favorite question so far.  In the context of posting things online via blogs, social networks, wikis, or collaborative word processors like Google Docs Kist asks, “What does literacy mean when its increasingly public and collaborative?”

I can’t wait to discover the answer…

Joe

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