Schooled in Digital

Hi! I'm Sarah Fidelibus, a communications specialist who is passionate about social media and technology. I'm also a contributing writer to's Making Sense of News blog. Schooled in Digital unites my 10+ years of experience as an educator with my passion for and knowledge of technology. Feel free to check out my other projects: Verbal Cupcake, a blog about all things media, and San Francisco Treats--my tribute to all the best treats you can find in one of the best cities in the world. Want to reach out? Feel free to connect with me on Twitter.

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If you’ve wanted to integrate YouTube into your classes but have been thwarted by Department of Education Internet restrictions, rejoice! Now there’s YouTubeTEACHERS, a place to find, create, share and discuss videos that enhance the educational experience. Check ‘em out.

Hat tip: Mind/Shift KQED.

I think schools are probably three to four years behind the rest of the world in how we’re communicating.
Those are the words of Richard O’Malley, Superintendent for Edison Schools in New Jersey, as quoted in the article, Social media go from school ban to teacher’s tool. I can relate to this statement—the California schools I’ve worked in have always been at least “three to four years behind” in terms of technology. Does this quote ring true for you as well?

Kids need to start establishing a positive digital impression of themselves. Without question, it will be the norm for these students to be Googled when they begin to look for jobs — even if it’s part time.

Yes!! Yes. Do read this post, via @MindShiftKQED.

This piece, by José Picardo, explores some barriers—both on the teacher side and the student side of the equation—to using social networks in the classroom. As Picardo points out: 

Loss of control is also an important factor for many teachers who might see the adoption of social media, not only as extremely disruptive, but also as a further erosion of academic rigour and, ultimately, of their traditional role and relevance. This may be because the tools that are familiar to our students are not so to teachers who might therefore feel unable to control their students online.

I definitely think one barrier to the adoption of various forms of technology is this lack of familiarity with the tools and platforms involved. The key to removing this barrier, from my perspective, is to help train teachers in a way that makes them feel empowered by and excited about the possibilities afforded by these various technologies. (Shameless plug: Read about my experience teaching New York City educators involved in school change to use social media and blogging platforms to aid their research and reform efforts.)

Picardo also notes that students may not be interested in using social networks in their classes. 

Anecdotal observations have led me to believe that secondary students see the internet as their territory and that they feel uncomfortable when this territory is encroached upon by their teachers. In my experience, teacher attempts to engage students using social networks can be seen by some students as initially intriguing but ultimately futile and, above all, uncool.

I have also experienced this pushback firsthand with my students, but have found that they can get past those issues if you integrate social media in a way that really has a purpose in your classroom.

Picardo’s piece is definitely worth a read, particularly if you are working to convince teachers in your school to begin incorporating new media into their classes. Those of you who have begun using social media in the classroom: What roadblocks have you encountered? How have you surmounted these obstacles?

Great tips for strategically developing a technology integration plan for your school or district.