My post on EdSocialMedia today is coordinated with an article by Andy Shaindlin of Alumni Futures. Click through to Alumni Futures to read Andy’s look at THINK Global School with insight from our Head of School, Aron Solomon.
THINK Global School is an independent secondary school whose students live and learn in a different international city every trimester. In short, we’re a global, mobile high school. We.re also brand new: TGS welcomes the very first class of 9th graders this September in Sweden.
TGS staffers are all around the world, too — and technology and social tools play an integral role in the way we work, collaborate and communicate daily. On any given day, members of the TGS team are calling internationally via Skype, live-editing curriculum planning wikis, writing blog posts and connecting with status updates.
Once school begins, we’ll be even more reliant on technology. Students have iPhones, iPads and MacBooks in their arsenal of educational tools, and will be capturing their experiences live and on the fly. We’ll encourage them to express themselves through several different media, documenting their thoughts, feelings, interpretations and observations on what’s happening around them. One of the most exciting elements of my role as executive director of communications is working with that student-generated content: showcasing the photos, videos and blog posts students create as they explore the world.
First, students participate in classroom discussions, go on iExplore excursions, and participate in location-specific activities (noodle making in Beijing, for example, or swimming the Great Barrier Reef in Australia). Then students upload the content they create from their adventures to our internal website, Spot. Spot is the private hub for all TGS content and collaboration – blog posts, homework assignments, wikis, photos, videos and so on. Spot is the backbone for coordinating activity among faculty, students and staff. All student materials will go into Spot before they are disseminated via other official channels.
One of my jobs is to assess the materials the students post to Spot, then determine 1) which pieces of student generated content I can share with a wider, more general public audience and then 2) determine which social media platforms (YouTube, Facebook, etc) are the best for showcasing these materials.
Because we’re working with students, there are several additional factors to consider. An important one is educating students on social media tools, and using flexible guidelines to help them make the most of the tools available. We’ll have a special orientation course during the first week of school to educate our kids about online privacy, their digital reputation, and how their online behavior affects their real-word relationships. In addition, the safety of our students is very important. We won’t disclose personal details about the students, and we won’t broadcast our specific daily schedules or locations.
I’ve developed a flexible strategy and guidelines for this effort. Flexibility is necessary, because so much of what we’re trying is brand new. We need to be willing to try new things, assess, and adjust accordingly. Much of what will happen in the next few months will be a learning experience for the students and for the TGS staff. The keys to success will be active listening, willingness to make changes on the fly, and nimbleness as we navigate an entirely new frontier.
In a series of posts on edSocialMedia this school year, I will shed some light on the ways we’re using social media at TGS, how we’re using student-generated content, the lessons we’ve learned and the pitfalls we’ve encountered. Follow along as we make our way around the world.