Deliberate Practice is more than practice done deliberately. It’s a way of operating in a zone whereby 95% proficiency can be achieved within a relatively short space of time by focusing in on more granular skills. These, in turn, produce habits — both in terms of muscle memory and habits of mind. Doug Belshaw ‘Deliberate Practice and Digital Literacies’

This semester I have been using Edublogs with my students. This has included managing over 70 student blogs, all facilitated through one ‘class’ blog. By using this workflow, students are able to keep up with different ideas being shared in the stream presented within the dashboard. A stripped back view of the posts which, like applications and add-ons, such as Pocket and Evernote’s Clearly, cut posts back to their basics. This has worked for some, while for others the experience is frustrating. Although some get annoyed at the visual layout, the biggest issue seems to be managing the plethora of information in a meaningful way.

One solution that I have been tinkering with of late is changing the way I use the class blog. Originally, I had imagined using the central space to house resources about blogging. Whether it be creating images, visualising information or adding different content. Although I still think that there is a place for such posts, I wonder if they are best housed elsewhere leaving the class space becomes something of a meeting spot. The question though is how?

One idea that I came upon via Doug Belshaw on the TIDE Podcast is to use the P2 Theme within WordPress (Houston in Edublogs) to create a personalised social media space. Unlike the usual blogging themes, which rely on navigating the dashboard and drafting posts, P2 constrains the process to being able to quickly text and tag. My thought was that students could then share canonical links to their work or other interesting ideas, similar to Twitter. It also provides a safe space to learn about social media and explore. Although spaces like Edmodo and Google Classroom offer a similar functionality, neither allows users to organise their posts or have any sort of ownership over their content.

Although Twitter would offer much the same experience, it is not necessarily the solution for every context. One of the issues that is brought up again and again is the privacy. Creating a digital sandpit is a step towards that in that it provides the means for a safer and more supportive environment. Whether it be knowing what to share or how to protect themselves online, we need to consciously teach our students best practise when it comes to participating on the web. We need to develop the deliberate practice of students regularly sharing their work and ideas in collaborative spaces.

For a different perspective on technology and web literacy, watch Cory Doctorow’s informative TED Talk which explores the questions of privacy and networks in schools:


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Creating a Deliberate Social Media Space for Students in School by Aaron Davis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

57 thoughts on “Creating a Deliberate Social Media Space for Students in School

  1. Hi Aaron, I finally got around to watching this video.

    There’s definitely a lot of work to be done in this area. All his ideas towards the end about privacy were great but highly technical, so would they ever get off the ground?

    At a basic level, anything we can do to help students learn more about digital footprints is worthwhile! I’ve always loved the way that blogging is an authentic way to teach about different aspects of digital citizenship. Closed platforms seem to be gaining popularity because they’re easier I guess. Easier to control. But easier doesn’t always mean best.

    Lots to think about!

    PS – who does a TED Talk holding a piece of paper??

    • Thank you Kathleen for the comment.

      Having run with ‘closed blogs’ in the past, I am wary of saying that everything needs to be open. I do however agree with your point about support students with their digital footprint.

      Always so much to be done.

      P.S. I have taken to using HuffDuffer and HuffDuff Video to get through videos. I just don’t have the time to watch. Thought I would share.

  2. We should collaborate. Working on same. I can do it @withknown automatically but too hard to install once instance for every kid. Could do one multiuser install.

    Also checkout unicyclic.com. I love edu logs but they don’t allow you too many plugins.

    Also on:

    • Sadly Greg, I am no longer in a position to explore such possibilities at the moment. I love the idea of Known, but in my experience of K-12 I am not sure about hosting. That is why I like Edublogs. They provide a certain structure and support. Students can also easily take their content elsewhere on leaving. I recognise their are limits in regards to plugins, but it is still better than WordPress.com in my opinion. Also, in Victoria, CampusPress/Global2 is provided for free.

  3. Janine Aldous Arantes argues that banning phones in schools is a helpful measure in that it makes the management of data and consent easier. Building upon the ACCC’ Digital Platforms Inquiry, Aldous Arantes argues that with the rise of artificial intelligence, machine learning and big data that the potential for harm is almost impossible to understand. For me, this is why modelling social media and supporting students in exploring online platforms is so important in being better informed.

  4. I went into Global2 today and cleared out my data before it closes down at the end of this month. I exported the various sites and deleted them. I can understand the decision to move on from Edublogs, however I think that this is (still) a very under-utilised platform. A Google Site is not a blog and it has many limitations.
    As we talk about Social Networking 2.0, I wonder what safe spaces we are providing students to experiment and explore?

    Also on:

  5. What is it about the internet that gives people permission to be awful and mean to others? I follow an astrophysicist on social media. She’s brilliant, and makes great content. She also posted a rant about all the misogynistic comments she gets from men commenting on her rather than her content. I’m not sharing any more details because it looks like she took the video down.

    Source: The Digital Wall by David Truss
    David, I have long wondered about the problem of on and offline. As an educator, are there any strategies or approaches that you have put in place to encourage empathy online, as well as an understanding of the impact of such practices? I recently did a short course on cyber security and awareness, my feeling is that such comments risk forming an informal character reference in a world beyond forgetting.

    I think the future of hacking and cyber attacks is the linking of different datasets that we openly share online through data brokers to provide an insight and awareness of individuals that will open up new possibilities.

    Source: Cyber Security & Awareness – Primary Years (CSER MOOC) by Aaron Davis
    Ironically, looking back through my blog I actually came across a previous post and comment on your blog relating to the difference between our online and offline persona.

    I can see that we are not our online personas. They are different than us. Yet they can say a lot about… but they don’t always say what we think they say.

    Source: Our Online Persona by David Truss

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