Digital Citizenship starts in kindergarten: Tweeting and blogging with 5- and 6-year olds
In the U.S. blog Teach.com I stumbled across a blog post by Sharon E. Davison from Vermont. She talks about her experiences with social media and blogging in kindergarten. Twitter and Facebook in kindergarten? You’ve got to know that the American kindergarten’s character is closer to school as it is in Germany. But: The kindergarten is as well attended by 5- and 6-year old children as in Germany.
I wanted to know more about this and contacted the author oft he blogpost on Twitter. Sharon was immediately interested in an exchange and we agreed to meet for an interview via Skype. Sharon shared her experiences with me and I’d like to share them with you. Her ideas might widen our prospective on the use of digital media.
Why Social Media and Blogging in kindergarten?
The motives for the use of Twitter et al. in kindergarten are at several levels. One goal is, said Sharon, to empower children to be „digital citizens“ and to help them to become proficient and confident to use the digital offerings. Another benefit lies in the great motivation that runs out from a public visibility even for 5 – and 6 -year-old.
In principle, Sharon sees her blogging and social media activities as an extension of her work in the group: The topics and contents of the normal kindergarten everyday life are deepened and reflected.
How exactly is social media and blogging to be used?
In Sharon’s group Twitter is open throughout the day. So the children can always see if someone has responded or replied to their tweets . The individual tweets are zoomed in to facilitate the tracking of the conversation – a strong motivation to improve reading skills.
In addition, various Blogs are used. So there is a separate class blog. In addition, Sharon uses the blog platform Kidblog, which provides a framework for blogs from schools of all levels. Blogs are used to document the events of the day in text, photo , podcast and video. The function thus is very similar to other (analog) forms of documentation , such as wall documentation and issue documentation or portfolio. The target group are the children themselves and their parents.
What benefits do the children have?
The special thing about social media and blogging is the interaction that becomes possible. The feedback on their actions and thinking that the children earn through these medias, Sharon describes as the essential. She tells how excited the children of these possibilities are. The public visibility and connecting with others are strong drivers. At the same time the posts also serve to reflect the experiences.
What’s in it for the parents?
Parents are always invited to comment on the blog posts of the children and to respond. Thus they are included in the educational life , so do not just get insights , but can also give impulses. They are so to some extent part of the everyday life in kindergarten. In addition, the parents get to see each blog post before it is published; Sharon always asks for a permission before posting it.
About privacy of course I had to ask . Wherever I talk with educators , parents and scientists on educational documentation in Germany and illustrative advantages for educational work , is expressly advised of the inflammation associated with a detailed documentation of data protection limits . In contrast, I see in Sharon websites numerous videos and photos of children . Is that not a problem for American parents? Rather no, says Sharon: At the beginning of kindergarten time it clarifies the parents in detail over the upcoming activities in blogs and social media and makes it clear that “public” really means “public”. Only once it happend that a parent refused permission to publish photos of her daughter – but after only a few weeks, the mother withdrew this restriction. The only thing Sharon necessarily looks at is that name and photos is not assignable to each other.
More about Sharon Davison’s activities: