The World’s Most Innovative Classrooms: Erin Schoening’s first-grade class and Facebook

April 13, 2011 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

by Alec Patton

This week I’m focussing not on a school, but on a single class: Erin Schoening’s first grade class.

Erin Schoening is an American teacher who uses Facebook with her students and their parents. It allows her to display student work online so parents can see, keep parents informed about the class calendar (and recruit them for class trips), communicate privately with individual families through messaging, give advice about how families can support learning at home, and connect with other classes across her state (and throughout the world). Because her ‘class’ has its own Facebook identity, the students can communicate through that, rather than having their own accounts (at six years old, they are perhaps a bit young for that).

This may not sound particularly special to you. Unfortunately, it is – most schools block Facebook for both students and staff, and either have no online connection to parents (I’m told some schools don’t collect email addresses as a matter of course, which seems crazy) or they set up a school-specific website that they then expect parents to check on a regular basis (speaking personally, I know I’m incapable of routinely checking a website just because I know I ought to).

What’s so striking about Erin Schoening is that she is going with the grain of what people are using – parents are more likely to be using Facebook regularly even than they are to be using personal email, so it makes sense to build a Facebook identity for the class. A message that goes to their Facebook inbox will therefore be much more likely to reach them than almost any other form of communication (other than a phone call, which is time-consuming). This kind of thinking is so simple, but too-often ignored in favour of flashier, more complex strategies – not just in education, but across public services.

Read More

Erin Schoening’s class in The Innovative Educator

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Entry filed under: Education & Children's Services.

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