As somebody who hails from more Southern and sunnier latitudes, I’ve never really got used to just how early night falls in the late Autumn and Winter months in these Northern parts. After just a few weeks of driving to and back from school in the dark, we can all be forgiven for thinking that it will ever be thus.
Only two or three years ago I would have thought it impossible for schools to be opening Twitter and Facebook accounts to interact with the wider school community – including their pupils, of course. Such was the negative feeling among teachers that I would have been derided and lampooned -and indeed I often was- for having the deluded audacity to suggest that social networking could be harnessed by schools to be potentially beneficial to both teaching and learning.
Two or three years down the line, there are more and more schools and teachers using Twitter accounts and Facebook pages who are being bold and and have taken the plunge. For example, where I work, in the private sector, it is becoming ever rarer to find a school that does not have a Twitter account, a Facebook page or both.
I would be disingenuous if I proclaimed that today’s prevalent means of communication – social networking – is well established even in those schools experimenting with its potential. There is still a vast majority of teachers who remain deeply suspicious or, worse, simply uninterested in the way their students communicate.
We could be forgiven for assuming that nothing much has changed. Oh but it has. It’s much harder to lampoon twittering teachers now even the Head Teacher tweets. The old rhetoric of sexual predation that used to surround the use of social media seems utterly unreasonable now the Maths department challenges their pupils to solve problems collaboratively via their Facebook page and the Physics department gets their students to film experiments that are then published on Youtube.
Even those teachers who remain suspicious of the potential of new technologies are beginning to tweet their condemnation of social media and blog about the unsuitability of social networking, mostly blissfully unaware of the irony.
Times are indeed changing. Although there will still be those who firmly believe in the good old ways, they now coexist with those who are beginning to realise that effective use of communications technology can support and enhance teaching and learning in ways that we are only beginning to imagine.
There is plenty to look forward to, for it won’t always be dark at six.
What do you think?