In our #ict4red projects and implementations Whatsapp has been of immense value and I would even go as far as to say that it has been a game changer. Most of our teachers are already on Whatsapp and if they are not, it rel is relatively easy to get them on-board. It was therefore a no-brainer that it is an ideal communication platform to use!
Facilitators use it to keep everybody in the loop on what is up as far as course work is concerned, deal with questions and keep everybody motivated to complete badges. Participants use it ask questions and share experiences. From a research point of view, Whatsapp provided a way to gather honest data about participants experiences within the course. See paper: Using Social Media as a Managerial Platform for an Educational Development Project: Cofimvaba (http://www.ijiet.org/papers/636-I005.pdf)
But, what if things go wrong??
This is the picture that are often presented as a motivation for not using public chat platforms for teaching and learning. My view has always been that the good must outweigh the bad from a learning point of view and I have therefore decided to use a personal experience to learn from. So this blog post will grow from the comments that will be posted below....
Some context first. This was a private conversation between me and a another person who I presumed to be one of my teachers. As I take mentoring very seriously I got "sucked into" the private discussion, which did not end well. It actually ended with me blocking the person. I felt bullied and horrified at how easily I got distracted and decided to use it as part of our online safety exhibit in our Gallery Walk Strategy. So what can we learn from this?
Before you read the conversation, I would like to you to consider the following questions as you read it. I apologise for some of the language, but have decided that in order to understand the context of cyber bullying (I felt bullied), we need to be faced with what really happens out there and worse. How can we mitigate issues as they happen and not only support our learners, but keep ourselves safe while maintaining a positive professional digital identity.