Incoming College Students Are Re-creating Facebook on Instagram

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By the time many college freshmen arrive on campus this fall, they’ll have already met their roommate, their core friends, and many of their classmates on Instagram. They’re connecting through class accounts, Instagram pages set up by one or several incoming members of a college’s freshman class to help everyone meet before the school year officially starts.

These accounts have names such as @penn2023_and @AUclassof2023, and they typically feature user-submitted photos and paragraph-long biographies of incoming students, often including their intended major, whether they’re looking for a roommate, and their personal Instagram handle. “Hey!” the caption on one recent class page reads. “I am from Overland Park, Kansas and plan to major in environmental and natural resources. I love anything outdoors (hiking, kayaking, hammocking) and i’m always down to get food!!! I am definitely interested in rushing! I would love to talk to you guys, (i need a roommate!!) so please DM me about anything!:)”

 

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The Hottest Chat App for Teens Is … Google Docs

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When the kids in Skyler’s school want to tell a friend something in class, they don’t scrawl a note down on a tiny piece of paper and toss it across the room. They use Google Docs.

“We don’t really pass physical notes anymore,” said Skyler, 15, who, like all the other students in this story, is identified by a pseudonym.

As more and more laptops find their way into middle and high schools, educators are using Google Docs to do collaborative exercises and help students follow along with the lesson plan. The students, however, are using it to organize running conversations behind teachers’ backs.

France Bans Smartphones in Schools Through 9th Grade. Will It Help Students?

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The eighth-grade girls already know what to expect from France’s new smartphone ban in all primary and middle schools because their school voluntarily instituted one last year.

“Annoying,” was the assessment of Zoélinh Masson, 12, as her friend Grace Blahourou, 13, agreed.

Still, they said that with no smartphones, students did talk to one another more.

France’s education ministry hopes that its smartphone ban, which took effect at the beginning of September and applies to students from first through ninth grades, will get schoolchildren to pay more attention in class and interact more, and several studies suggest such correlations.

Laptops Are Great. But Not During a Lecture or a Meeting.

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But a growing body of evidence shows that over all, college students learn less when they use computers or tablets during lectures. They also tend to earn worse grades. The research is unequivocal: Laptops distract from learning, both for users and for those around them. It’s not much of a leap to expect that electronics also undermine learning in high school classrooms or that they hurt productivity in meetings in all kinds of workplaces.

In a series of experiments at Princeton University and the University of California, Los Angeles, students were randomly assigned either laptops or pen and paper for note-taking at a lecture. Those who had used laptops had substantially worse understanding of the lecture, as measured by a standardized test, than those who did not.

The researchers hypothesized that, because students can type faster than they can write, the lecturer’s words flowed right to the students’ typing fingers without stopping in their brains for substantive processing. Students writing by hand had to process and condense the spoken material simply to enable their pens to keep up with the lecture. Indeed, the notes of the laptop users more closely resembled transcripts than lecture summaries. The handwritten versions were more succinct but included the salient issues discussed in the lecture.

What happened when I made my students turn off their phones

<em>Photo Dick Thomas Johnson</em>

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Initially, 37 per cent of my 30 students – undergraduates at Boston University – were angry or annoyed about this experiment. While my previous policy leveraged public humiliation, it didn’t dictate what they did with their phones in class. For some, putting their phones into cases seemed akin to caging a pet, a clear denial of freedom. Yet by the end of the semester, only 14 per cent felt negatively about the pouches; 11 per cent were ‘pleasantly surprised’; 7 per cent were ‘relieved’; and 21 per cent felt ‘fine’ about them.

Workarounds emerged immediately. Students slid their phones into the pouches without locking them, but because they still couldn’t use their phones in class, this became a quiet act of rebellion, rather than a demonstration of defiance. Some of them used their computers, on which we often search databases and complete in-class exercises, to text or access social media. I’m not comfortable policing students’ computer screens – if they really want to use class time to access what YONDR denies them, that’s their choice. The pouches did stop students from going to the bathroom to use their phones. In previous semesters, some students would leave the room for 10 to 15 minutes and take their phones with them. With phones pouched, there were very few bathroom trips.

 

Why Every High School Should Teach A Social Media Class

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It’s time to teach social media to high school students.

While some adults who don’t understand social media — ironically because they were never taught it —still dismiss it as a novelty or distraction, the reality is social media has become a force of incredible power, change, and business.

It’s changed our world and its importance is only growing.

So much so that I can’t think of anything more important to teach our next generation of leaders, innovators, entrepreneurs, and working class citizens than how to create and interpret social media.

If the job of our education system is to prepare students to succeed in the “real world,” then teaching them social media skills should be a prerequisite.

While most teenagers already use social media, I doubt many understand the intricacies of how social media works.

How teachers use mobile phones as education tools in refugee camps

Global 20170314 Dryden 2

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Through long-term research in Dadaab, we found that students use Facebook groups to get feedback on their school essays as well as to interact with peers who can help them face challenges, like being the first girl in their family to go to school. Teachers, too, are using phones as teaching tools. One refugee teacher in Kakuma told us, “I actually use my phone when I am making class presentations… When it happens that a student asks me a very difficult question that I cannot answer, I will even pretend that I am [going] out for a short call or am going to handle any problem in the office, then I can use my phone to google [the answer].”

We asked teachers of refugees in Kenya who they communicate with using their mobile phones. Many have formed instant messaging groups with their peers to discuss teaching challenges and topics covered in their professional development programs. These groups are not initiated by programs, but by the teachers themselves, usually using Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp.  As one teacher explained, “Around my area, I have a group of friends and also some of my colleagues who are working under [a teacher training] program too, and we have developed a WhatsApp group where we discuss issues concerning teaching. Like if we have a problem in school, we can discuss it and find a solution before we take it forward to our line supervisor or the community mobilizer.”