Social Media School Teacher

This post is reproduced from chrisbrogan.com where it was published earlier today.

Dharmesh wakes up a little late. After a quick shower, he skips checking email, but goes right to his RSS reader to see updates of where the students worked within the social network. Luckily, Ning (and lots of services) send new activities out via RSS, so they’re easy to track.

It looks like Margarite has added more YouTube videos to the video section, and Franklin has written a blog post about the town’s historic water cooler. Jeremy has already commented that Franklin forgot to cite a source, saving Dharmesh the effort. He eats a breakfast bar, and hops in his car for the commute to work.

On his iPod, Dharmesh listens to last week’s book reports read out by the students. The quality of their work has improved a great deal since switching to the audio requirement. The second report, by Kelly, is a little loud and the audio clips a bit. Dharmesh makes a mental note to show Kelly how to level the audio in Audacity.

At school, the first period media students are all frustrated. They’ve built a media room in FriendFeed, but haven’t figured out what they’re going to use to present their collected information. Dharmesh lets their discuss the benefits of a blog versus just adding a group to Ning. He asks if they’ve tried Scrapblog yet, which makes simple pages in a primarily drag-and-drop interface. They agree to check that out.

Period four is right before lunch. Dharmesh has special permission to mix the two time frames, so he takes his class out on a walk, asking them to snap pictures with their cell phones’ cameras. Only one student doesn’t have a smartphone, and Dharmesh gives him a Flip camera, instructing him to shoot some video of the student’s collecting their photos. Now there’ll be a documentary to go along with the photo walk project.

There’s only one fast computer in the class room. The others are horribly out of date. But Mister McBrian has done a great job of keeping them updated, and their browsers work well enough to be mostly useful. Because the school has opted to use only web apps instead of buying software for each computer, they were able to use some money to improve memory on the machines. It’s not ideal, but classrooms are rarely state of the art for long.

Before the end of the day, Dharmesh has recorded a quick video on the fast computer, giving the next week’s assignments audibly. He’s already sent the assignments as a forum update to their Ning group, so the class doesn’t have to write anything down to remember. It’s already in their RSS feed.

On the commute home, Dharmesh listens to more podcast book reports and thinks about what he can do to raise money to get just a few more good computers into the class room. Before these kids get to fourth grade, he figures, they should know that not all computers take two minutes to load a page. Maybe a fundraiser, he think, as he drives home to meet up with his family for dinner.

What do you think? Make sense? Was it surprising that I have this as a 3rd grade classroom? It’s not inaccurate. My daughter is entering first grade and she knows how to navigate a browser, iTunes, and various websites.



  1. Mala September 1, 2008

    The potential of the connected world in the education of a child is amazing!I’m sure kids would love to learn from teachers like Dharmesh. BUT, in the real world, I’m seeing more and more children heading straight to their computers, eating at the computer table, eyes focussed on the screen as the food—irrespective of what it is—-goes down the throat. Social skills are diving down even as computing skills are soaring among the young. And this comes not from a stick-in-the-mud, old, I-don’t-like-change teacher! I LOVE change…but only when it does good for all.


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