Your Stories

Creating an online space for work and ideas

"Interaction in the online world provides access to learning opportunities that would never be possible in an ordinary physical setting"

Amiria Robinson

 

In 2010, after seven years of being a Faculty Co-ordinator and Art teacher at two Auckland secondary schools, I left teaching for an extended maternity break. During this time, I began to collate and organise my teaching resources, combining the examples and advice I had gathered over the years into articles that were aimed at helping students excel. I analysed top student projects and interviewed those who had created them, providing analysis alongside detailed, quality images of their artwork, sharing these on my website.

From all around the world, Art teachers and students descended upon my website. I found myself spending several hours each night answering questions from passionate students and teachers who were looking for inspiration, guidance and reassurance.

 

After a year and half interacting with students and teachers online, the Student Art Guide (www.studentartguide.com) was born. The Student Art Guide is an education focused, socially driven website, with one goal in mind: to help high school Art students excel.

 

WHY IS SOCIAL MEDIA AN EXCELLENT EDUCATIONAL TOOL?

Interaction in the online world provides access to learning opportunities that would never be possible in an ordinary physical setting. Even in Art - a subject that is so overtly practical - there are tremendous advantages to using social media to complement traditional in-class learning. For example, social media and other online tools can provide:

  • Immediate access to examples of exceptional student artwork
  • The pooling of ideas between teachers and students in real time
  • The sharing, development and improvement of teaching resources, with the synergy of multiple minds resulting in documents that are greater than one teacher or one school could create on their own
  • A supportive environment for asking questions 
  • Camaraderie and friendship between those in smaller schools or departments, or those who are geographically isolated
  • A platform for finding, collecting and sharing of artist models
  • A platform for celebrating young artists and the work of their teachers
  • The ability for one teacher to help hundreds and thousands of students spread out across the world

ETHICAL ISSUES TO BE CONSIDERED WHEN USING SOCIAL MEDIA WITH HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS

Teachers are often wary of using social media, worrying about dissolving boundaries and the lack of ‘control’ that might come when communicating with young people outside of a classroom environment.

I have the following recommendations:

  • Create a structured online environment, such as a website, blog or Facebook group, so that you can contain and control the interaction that takes place, exactly as you would within a classroom. This allows you to establish a professional tone and code of conduct, deleting any comment or piece of content that falls outside of what is acceptable.
  • Avoid commenting on personal platforms, such as a student’s personal Facebook page or allowing them to comment on your own.
  • Act as a teacher. Use the same language and professionalism as you would when upon the school grounds. Treat it as an extension of your workspace – not as a place where the professional and personal world coincides.
  • Ensure that students understand the risks of revealing private information (i.e. contact details) online.
  • Acknowledge sources of information, using proper website etiquette. This means: use ‘blockquote’ for directly quoted text, state the name of authors / creators and link back to the original website source.
  • Finally, have faith in your students. If you go out of your way to help people – to share knowledge and resources so that others can benefit and learn – the result will be unequivocally positive. Embrace it!

SUMMARY

In addition to the learning opportunities discussed above, creating an Art Education website has allowed me to meet and interact with others who have similar interests and enthusiasms. Gaining over 30,000 monthly visitors, the Student Art Guide has become a platform where young artists are able to get their work noticed – giving early recognition to those who want to embark upon a creative career.

I am thoroughly excited about the potential for technology to transform the way we teach and learn!


  • Learners

    Teachers have a professional obligation to develop and maintain professional relationships with learners based on the best interests of those learners.

  • Parents/Guardians and Family/Whānau

    Social media provides a great opportunity to collaborate and communicate with parents and whānau.

  • Society

    Teachers who model good social media use will grow learners who apply positive, respectful values in their interactions on social media platforms.

  • The Profession

    As a member of the profession you should seek and respond to opportunities to share knowledge and discuss concerns.