Monday, March 9, 2015

A Positive Social Media Experience in School

I stumbled across and interesting competition on-line. Being the season of basketball madness, a group of scientists organized the Mammal March Madness.  Essentially it is a match up between species of varying habitats to determine who could "survive" in head to head species competition. This seems like a great opportunity for Biology and Ecology students to perform relevant research on the species to be able to make an educated decisions about survival. Just as we seen in the natural world, the native species may not always be victorious, the one who can out compete for resources has a strong advantage.

The "battles" will be play-out in "real-time" through Twitter at #2015MMM. In order to be able to view the results at school, twitter would need to be an acceptable resource to use. In my school district, as well as many others, all social media sites are blocked by network security. It seems like many school districts block these sites as a way to combat cyber-bullying.

Which is a serious matter and one where students should learn the laws and regulations and understand that their digital citizenship matters. Social media is all around us and is something students should learn how to appropriately use. I recently read an article that is related to a similar issue of personal smart phones and other devices being blocked by schools, to only result in retaliation from students to use the tools secretly.  Should we "block" these tools from our students or should we teach them how to use them to further their education and careers? I'm of the mindset that social media etiquette should be taught in schools, cyber-bullying should be faced head-on just like all other forms of bullying and harassment, and students should learn how to actually use the powerful devices they carry around. They have so much information readily available at the touch of a screen. While the Mammal March Madness seems like a very engaging, entertaining, and unique educational activity, access to social media is a key player for the full experience.

Even though my school has twitter blocked, I still plan to run this activity with my students, and access the live tweets of mammalian battles in a round about way. I will simply save the "search" of the hash-tag from my personal twitter account at home.  Then I will print the search to Google drive for my students to view the next day in school. This will help them experience some of the excitement of the "real-time" matches and also provide the opportunity to view the details as they unfolded and follow the reactions of other players.

Here is how to save a search in twitter and archive for later.

  1. Sign in to your Twitter account.
  2. Type your search query into the search box at the top of the page and hit return or click the magnifying glass icon.
  3. Click Save at the top right corner of your search Results
  4. Click anywhere in the search box at the top of the page.
  5. Scroll to your Saved Searches and click on the saved search to revisit the results
  6. To archive the search, scroll down the list to the farthest tweet back you want to save and use this chrome addon either in chrome or opera to save to Google drive. 

Good luck to those of you who fill out a bracket, have fun, and use creative, but safe alternatives to access blocked tools at school.

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