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Margo Tripsa

Ed. S. Instructional Technology

September 13, 2016

M3- Blog Post on Social Networks,

Virtual Environments, and Digital Divide
(2 blog posts)


Blog Post can be found at

Social media such as Facebook, Tumblr, and Instagram have an important place in
many students and young peoples lives. Founded in 2006, Twitter emerged as a powerful
learning tool very quickly. Nathan, MacGougan, and Shaffer, (2014) claimed that, social
networking tools offer opportunities for innovative, participative pedagogical practice within
traditional institutional frameworks. (p. 112) Twitter is seem by many teachers as a great tool for
expanding their professional communities and a place where they could quickly find instructional
ideas. The U.S. Department of Educations National Education Technology Plan 2010
encouraged schools to use social media to expand learning opportunities for both students and
teachers. Many educators, however, have been ambivalent regarding the role that social media
should play in teaching and learning (Carpenter, 2015, p. 210). Many school districts often block
access to popular social media sites, but, at the same time, other schools give teachers and
students more freedom.

Carpenter (2015) emphasized that, Twitters concise, open, and ubiquitous nature
potentially provides opportunities to increase teacher-student and student-student interactions,
both inside and outside of the physical classroom. (p. 210) I consider Twitter a treasure of
resources. Rather than relying on Googles algorithms to find teaching resources, teachers can
employ Twitter to curate and crowdsource education content. Twitter also helped develop new
ways for professional development. Twitter Chats are loved by many teachers. I am excited to
lead a Twitter Chat on September 15, 2016, during Global Collaboration Day. Interested
teachers can join this Chat by accessing the hashtag #globaled16 and my collaborative project
at #timetrain16. I am looking for students grades 4th through 8th from different countries to join
our project called The Time Train.

Nathan, MacGougan and Shaffer (2014) noted that, the internet is still in its relative
infancy, as are the varied tools and practices through which we create, share, retrieve and store
information across it. Our use of social media continues to evolve (and is enacted alongside
more traditional information tools and practices), as will our understanding of how social media
tools can scaffold learning objectives. (p. 126) I am excited to find out what future has in store
for education and society as technology is more and more present.
Facebook is another social networking tools I enjoy using for professional purposes.
Social networking allows people to discuss their point of view, expand their knowledge, or
increase exposure to diverse perspectives. Networking has become a critical activity for
personal growth and career development. Networking is all about building relationships and
taking action and also a great way to share ideas and knowledge. I use my professional
Facebook page, titled Techie Teachers Tricks, for connecting with other educators and for
curating resources. Through social media, I get access to a large variety of resources that
interest me as it oftentimes it acts as professional development on the go. As an artifact I am
posting a screenshot, which shows a recently curated resource.

Carpenter, J. (2015). Preservice teachers microblogging: Professional development via Twitter.

Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 15(2), 209-234.
Nathan, L., MacGougan, A. & Shaffer, E. (2014). If not us, who? Social media policy and the
ischool classroom. Journal of Education for Library and Information Science, 55(2),
112-132. Retrieved from
United States Department of Education. (2010). National education technology plan 2010.
Retrieved from

ITEC 7430 Virtual Environments and Digital Divide

Blog post can be found at

I have explored the following two virtual environments: Google Cardboard in conjunction with
Expeditions and Google Tour Builder. I cannot stress enough the great power of these two tools!

a. Expeditions and Google Cardboard

Google released Expeditions this summer. This virtual reality field trip tool works in conjunction
with Google Cardboard. Expeditions are collections of virtual reality panoramas, 360 photo
spheres and 3D images. It is very teacher friendly since the developers annotated the
panoramas with descriptive content, points of interest, and questions that make them easy to
integrate into instruction. The app allows teachers to guide students through an exploration of
more than 200 historical sites and natural resources in an immersive, three-dimensional
experience. Expeditions promotes scientific inquiry, higher order thinking skills, global
awareness, authentic learning, and collaborative learning. Due to the immersive nature of the
virtual field trips provides, teachers can design student-centered lessons; students can freely
explore 3D environments and travel outside of their communities to explore or solve problems.
These kinds of experiences have a great value for all students: mainstream students, gifted
students, students with disabilities, young, or old students. Students are given the opportunity to
learn about the world, to develop cultural understanding and global citizenship, and to acquire
skills necessary in the 21st century. Virtual reality, through Google Expeditions, is highly
engaging and motivating since it brings real-life into the classroom and they get to explore and
travel the world without having to leave the classroom. Google Expeditions helps students
contextualize learning within real world experiences and fosters deeper understanding of
content. It helps students with disabilities see and understand better abstract concepts and it
can be used by K-12 students across disciplines: Science, Art, Math (geometry), Social Studies,
I have learned about this tool at the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE)
conference in Denver, Colorado, this summer. I have not created anything, per se, with this tool,
but I have researched it, played with it, and have put together a grant proposal hoping that my
school will acquire at least one classroom set so I could start implementing it in my classroom.
The picture below is a picture of me exploring Google Expeditions at the ISTE Conference.

b. Google Tour Builder

With Google Tour Builder students can create virtual field trips. You can see below an example
of a Google Tour created by my students.

Google Tour Builder is great because students can use all kinds of media to show their learning
and create content. It really supports the diverse needs of our students. In the example above
the students used pictures for each site, but they could also create videos about various places
around the world and could embed them there. I have used this idea to create the culminating
task of The Time Train Global Collaborative Project.
I have also created a Google Tour Builder tutorial that walks you through the steps of using this

Devaney (2014) maintained that, digital access and digital equity continue to present a
challenge to educators. Meeting that challenge is more important than ever, because, as many
stakeholders say, digital equity is about more than access to devices and strong internet
connectionsits about social justice and fair opportunity. Schools need to find ways to bridge
the digital divide both in terms of technology access, and technology use. The school I teach at
is an American international school, located in Qatar, Middle East. Our student population is
quite affluent and all the students, girls and boys, have devices of many kinds, therefore at my
school there is no digital divide in terms of technology access. At my school, I have noted a
digital divide which emerged last year from the fact that the boys have been more involved in
STEM education than the girls. What is unique about my school is the fact that it is the only
American international school that is gender segregated. To address this issue, this year we will
encourage the girls to participate in the Robotics after school clubs, as well. Coding clubs could
also be designed with a focus on getting the girls involved.

Devaney, L (2014, November 12). 7 reasons digital equity is a social justice issue.
ESchoolNews. Retrieved from