Should social networking be a required part of the curriculum for preservice Teacher Technology courses?

Each semester there are always a few students in my Preparing Teachers to Use Technology course that have either never used social networking sites or have antipathy towards them. Given that I am an advocate of Constructivism as presented by Stephen Downes and George Siemens, I find that rather disturbing. I have developed a very deep and effective personal learning network using Google+, Twitter, Research Gate, and a few other similar sites. This PLN has provided me insight as to the best uses of various technologies, methods to ensure student engagement, theories I can use to help inform my research, and most importantly of all camaraderie with others who share my passion of education.

Collaboration can be found as well at the school or district level. But given the fast paced change we now face in educational technology it would seem that the more exposure teachers have to what others are implementing in their classrooms, the better decisions they can make about what to do in their own. Using Google+ to share stories of iPad implementation can help others determine effective uses and avoid identified pitfalls once their own schools decide to include the devices in the classroom.

Good teachers will always be looking for ways to improve their teaching methods and will want to share techniques they have discovered that lead to improved learning outcomes. Limiting collaboration to geographical boundaries does not make sense when we can so easily share our triumphs, or warn of our defeats. One of the goals of the public school curriculum is to help our students become global citizens. We should expect the same of our teachers by ensuring they are able to collaborate globally.

About Cynthia Clark

I hold a doctorate in curriculum & instruction, with an emphasis in educational technology and science education. I work for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas as the Evaluation and Assessment Specialist for the Center for Research, Evaluation, and Assessment. My current research interests include qualitative responses to course evaluations, both the development of open-ended items and their subsequent analysis.
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