Should students post online if their teacher doesn’t?

CC licensed photo shared by Flickr clipmage

I take great glee in working on a regular basis with educators excited and serious about employing social media, blogging, and other web 2.0 tools in their classes. In fact, it seems to me that certain widely known tools are almost becoming part of the mainstream. The ongoing and meaningful leveraging of web technologies (at least in my parts) fills me with a certain degree of optimism.

I also know that our general mantra in #edtech discourse is to encourage teachers to try using the technology in spite of their own lack of comfort or familiarity. We often talk about the students leading the way, “let them teach us”, and so on.

I wonder if we’re being a little disingenuous when we sing that song for certain types of tech. I used to belt that tune all the time but now I’m pressing shuffle on my iPod. I think it’s one thing to say that not knowing GarageBand shouldn’t stop you from letting students use it in the classroom, but it may be another when you’re talking about digital footprinting. So, I’m wondering if it is a good idea for Kamal and Kerry to be blogging away when their teacher can’t recognize an embed code. Thus, I’m about to say something that may or may not be controversial.

If you’re going to be getting your students to post online, it behooves you to do the same.

I think this is something that seems obvious but is often overlooked; something of an elephant in some tech PD rooms. By no means am I positing that expertise in the area or, say, a high klout score preclude the use of it in your class. Rather, I’m putting forward the idea that co-learning involves us as the adults, well, co-learning, not co-watching.

I’m wondering if, since the online world as we know it now changes so fast and is overly nuanced, it is alright for us to be giving kids the keys to the SM and web 2.0 car without experience driving ourselves. It’s not that I think we always need to be two steps ahead of the students or that I suddenly share the view that online equals danger. Rather, I’m starting to think that it is only when you begin understanding how these tools fit into your own personal and/or professional life curriculum that you should even begin to integrate it into your class curriculum.

I would love your thoughts on this.



  1. Teachers need to be knowledgable about tech. I think they need to read up on Twitter, read a few blogs, take a tour of Facebook. However, that doesn’t mean they have to participate. I allow my students to make comic books even though I’ve never made one. I let them write about topics that I know little about. The bigger question is whether teachers know what good instruction looks like and how to learn about the ways technology can be used within that framework.

  2. As teachers, we need to design authentic learning tasks, with the integration of technology. These tasks need to be meaningful and not just following the trend. Just because everybody is blogging, we make our students blog. We use our professional judgement to incorporate specific web2.0 tools with certain tasks that best meets our students’ needs.

  3. I totally agree with you Royan. My fear is that from your post, people could easily say, “you’re right” and not have their students do meaningful work that they can share online. Kids already have the keys so we better jump in the car quick and help them along the way.

  4. While I agree with John about not always having to do all the things we ask our students to do, in this case i think there’s some modeling that needs to occur. Why is it good for students to post online but not us? That seems odd. Particularly if we are attaching value to it which seems obvious.

    It’s not the same as creating comic books. That represents a specific medium or art. Posting online is a major shift in how and where we learn. Teachers ought to model that.

  5. The wood-shop teacher often creates his own wood projects in their class.

    The auto-shop teacher often works on his own car in their class.

    The home-economics teacher often cooks their own food or sews their own clothes in their class.

    The PE teacher often runs or works-out in their class.

    The art teacher often creates art in their class.

    These are why, as an English teacher, I also write and post on my blog in my class.

  6. I think there is a very real need to make both tchrs & parents ( new arrivals with socially, linguistically immersed children of school age) AWARE of how tech savvy the world is around them. How cool is it that my 50 yr old Burmese, Sudanese sts can go home and say to their kids that they had to do a voicethread on the class blog today then comment, write a word doc, save it, write on the wallwisher, do a voki, look at YouTube links the teacher gave them in an email and send it back with comments, then write an interview for a movie they are in, in preparation for a webinar the next day? That is why I love teaching tech in Ed! Too much fun & creativity! Not to mention assessment in language acquisition!

  7. It is critical that teachers experiment with technologies that most of them didn’t use prior to the start of their teaching careers. Even young teachers who used these things in college probably didn’t learn them in any organized manner from the teachers they had who for the most part were clueless. By using the technology, teachers will be in a better position to advise and guide students and at some point can legitimately be seen as authorities. At this time the best most can do is get out there and learn with the students and let them know that is what they are doing. Great post. I reposted at

  8. If you aren’t using these things, how do you know what they are capable of and what you can get kids to do with them? I can sit down and reel off multiple ways to use Twitter both in and for classes, because I am very familiar with it. People who are only viewing it from the outside would be very unlikely to think of those uses.

    Of course it’s ok to be learning about these things – G+ is a classic example because we’re all learning what to do with it right now. But if you are looking from the outside, you will only ever see the surface.

  9. Nobody wants the doctor that hasn’t taken a course since he graduated at the top of his class….20 years ago. Teachers must keep current. Parents and teachers that do not have an online component to their lives and practice often talk about how kids are so skilled with technology. I find they are skilled in a narrow area, but are quick to learn things like collaborating online, online discussions and just keeping organized when it is modeled by a teacher.

    We have authentic learning tasks. It is a matter of finding ways to open these tasks up for kids to use technology. Many are uncomfortable with the fact that one kid in a class might not have a computer (or more than one). Is this a reason to not use technology. I think we must also be comfortable with a gradual shift towards doing more work online while still allowing some students to do work with traditional tools.

  10. Don’t scare the teachers off! It’s a big enough step just to get them to consider tech. ;D

    If they have to comb every iota of material for embed codes there won’t be time to participate in the very real give and take of social media and blogging. Wouldn’t a student blog with something rotten sneaked in become visible once online? And wouldn’t students be buzzing about it, meaning the teacher would know?

    I’ve seen kids moderate kids lots of times. Peer pressure can preclude lots of problems.

    1. Hi Paula,

      I was really mentioning the embed code as more of stylistic feature of the post than insisting that teachers be detectives for abhorrent posting behaviour. I absolutely agree that students often end up moderating themselves. That is precisely what happens in my experience.

      My main question is this: Why would you (the proverbial ‘you’) want your students to blog or tweet or whatever if it is something you yourself have trepidation doing?

      I don’t think this is a question of comfort level like we often talk about in edtech discourse. I think digital footprinting is totally different.

      Thanks for the comment!

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