Social On-line networks in teaching practice

The world wide web (Connectivity)

The challenge for Health Educators is to achieve a change in behavior of their students, using behavioral models that guide their choices but do not appear to be over-bearing. Students are almost inseparable from their phones as it is an immediate conduit to their friendships. So it is not a surprise that interaction between individuals (their interconnectivity) is a valued practice and therefore in need of guidance. The social capital that networking brings to learning relationships (Melhuish, 2013) can be used to establish a buy-in or “catch-them” strategy for teachers.

The junior Health Education in Waimea College has a module called “Connected” in the year 9 programme which guides our students use of this digital dimension. The teaching focus is both to empower our students (by extending their curiosity and skill level) and guide their use (by increasing their awareness of their digital citizenship). The lack of control over sites, curiosity and enquiry is a double edged sword. On one hand discovery (hopefully guided) can be a motivating factor for students whereas exposure to social media that draws on experiences from others around the world (Sharples et al. 2016) can also be health damaging.

“Experts say kids are growing up with more anxiety and less self-esteem. Many parents worry about how exposure to technology might affect toddlers developmentally. … In fact, experts worry that the social media and text messages that have become so integral to teenage life are promoting anxiety and lowering self-esteem.”

Related Issues that have been analysed at year 10 include pornography and cyber-bullying. The ethical dilemma of pornography (the relevance of digital exposure -unintended and intended) was also examined at year 13 level for New Zealand society, in Health Education.



The intent of the Connected Unit (see yellow highlight, above) with text shown below is to “upgrade” the user. Introducing the advantages of social connectivity accompanied by the use of critical thinking to guide teenagers use of the internet. In this way, as Melhuish (2013) states the risks of : quality control, unplanned ideas, privacy issues and management of information can be diminished through planned and guided digital learning.


As the role of teachers is to educate their students for their future endeavors the educated use of social media and the digital environment could be seen as a core responsibility. ( The advent of the Communities of Learning (COL) and the new digital technology curriculum are steps in the right direction, (Digital Technologies).


by Marcus Swain



Child Mind:

Communities of Learning:

Core Responsibility

Digital Technologies:

Melhuish, K.(2013). Online social networking and its impact on New Zealand educators’ professional learning. Master Thesis. The University of Waikato. Retrieved on 05 May, 2015 from…

Sharples, M., de Roock , R., Ferguson, R., Gaved, M., Herodotou, C., Koh, E., Kukulska-Hulme, A., Looi,C-K, McAndrew, P., Rienties, B., Weller, M., Wong, L. H. (2016). Innovating Pedagogy 2016: Open University Innovation Report 5. Milton Keynes: The Open University. Retrieved from



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