Sunday, November 17, 2013

Edubloggers: College Admissions and Math Apps

This week I decided to follow the education section of the New York Times and I came across some fascinating articles.  The first blogger I chose to investigate writes articles about how technology and social media are affecting the lives of high school seniors applying to college.  In one article, she writes about the story of a prospective freshman at Bowdoin who tweeted some inappropriate comments while attending one of the school's tour days.  The admissions team came across these comments and, as a result, the student was not admitted.  In a subsequent article, the blogger writes about how she was surprised by the fact that it was news to parents that admissions teams have the ability to check out prospective students' social media lives.  This made me think about where students receive their social media etiquette, if not at home.  In this sense, I believe it is part of our jobs as teachers to bring proper social media skills to the classroom.  How can we expect teenagers to understand how their virtual world will affect their real world if we don't explicitly tell them?

Secondly, I chose to look into another edublogger who wrote about educational apps.  The article pertained to math, but I think this sentiment can be applied to any subject area: "The idea is that by keeping the entire app lighthearted and full of amusing sounds and images, children do not notice that they’re being tested on their arithmetic skills." (Eaton, 2013).  The beauty of the apps is that they trick kids into learning because it's FUN!  So why can't we make learning just as fun in the classroom and disguise traditional tests with more informative/fun assessments?  For example, have a student design his or her own math game to demonstrate his or her arithmetic skills, or have a student research the science behind video games to demonstrate his or her mastery of cognitive functions?  I believe that teachers can make school more fun, but can we possess all that an app has to offer?  Perhaps we should be investigating more academic apps to try and emulate pieces of them in the classroom.  You could certainly bring the apps into your classroom through technology, but this is not possible everywhere.  I also think some teachers may be hesitant to bring in technology that may threaten the job of the teacher.  Personally, I think it would be great to disguise testing and learning with games and I intend on researching apps for my science classroom.  I don't know if I will ever teach in a place with a one-to-one policy, but I do not think that should determine how "fun" your assessments are or how much students are engaged in the learning process.  Like I said, I think it's up to me to research these apps and bring aspects of them into the classroom.  What this looks like, we'll have to wait and see.  


  1. I agree with your point on social media etiquette - it's something I've been encouraging my 11-year-old brother to consider. He's all over Instagram, Vine, and he just got his own Facebook. He's a responsible kid; when someone posts something inappropriate to his walls, he reports it immediately to his parents and notifies the app. But even more worrying to me is the content he posts - and it's creating a trail of breadcrumbs for future potential admissions officers and employers. For instance, most of the silly memes he posts are, to me at least, grammatically offensive, and while an 11-year-old wouldn't be as picky about grammar as a 26-year-old teacher, it indicates his intellectual sensibilities. I wonder if those people who look into applicants' social media histories will, over time, give some lenience to people's younger posts. Even so, at this point, I think it's better to be safe than sorry.

  2. Rachael, I really found your post interesting. I have heard of so many instances where a student's use of social media impacted the opportunities they may have had to pursue higher academics. For example, there was this instance where a highly talented high school football prospect received zero offers from any major universities because of inappropriate posts on his twitter. I agree that we should take some time to educate students on proper social media etiquette, and make it clear to them that whatever they post is public even if they don't think it is.

    The second part of your post is really interesting because I recently heard of a project being undertaken by Bill Gates has donated around $50 million I believe to this organization to create a game that is educational, but in a way so that the students aren't aware that they are learning. One of the games they created is called SimCityEDU ( I haven't checked it out yet, but I can definitely see the potential of games in a classroom.