Are we stoking the Digital Campfires?

Humans are naturally social animals Storytelling is one of the oldest arts known to man. It has been happening since cave men and women were drawing on walls. Humans are, therfore, natural storytellers. The digital campfire, isn’t this a great analogy for the platfoms used today to tell stories?

Made with Typorama by J.Bevans
Made with Typorama by J.Bevans

Children today have many available audiences to tell a story. They can tell friends and family face to face (like generations before them) but with the help of technology children have the opportunity to share their story with a wider global audience. Children can use social media and tools such as Facebook, Twitter, Blogging, Youtube, Vimeo, Flickr or Instagram as their platforms to tell their stories.  The world is their oyster!

Are children using social media to tell a story worth listening to?

Some children are and some aren’t. This article from Edutopia explains that children are using social media but perhaps not to it’s full potential.

And if so, are we giving the the proper guidance to travel down the varied paths? “

So children are great at messing around and geeking out  however we must model how to use technology so that children can reach their full potential. This is how children are going to be able to tell their story to the world via social media.

“But what are we doing to promote critical thinking, questioning, and constructive criticism”

But who is to blame?

Us, the educators. We are not consistently modelling how to tap into the power of social media to tell a story. We are not using social media so that children can tell stories. Social Media is not entrenched in school life and so we are missing the opportunities that social media are giving us.  After all technology and specifically social media are allowing us to : –

  • Educate with the world in mind
  • Share our desire to know more
  • Show their are several perspectives
  • Know the meaning of being a true global citizen

So what am I doing?

I have started to blog for the first time in my life. Writing these weekly posts has really helped me to reflect on the teaching and learning in my classroom. What do the children need to know? How am I getting them to show their learning? Am I modelling the use of technology consistently in my classroom? I ask my students to be reflective so I must model that and be reflective myself ( a blog is a tool for that). I ask my students to create content for other people, to collaborate and communicate with others via technology. I am doing this via my COETAIL site and via my twitter PLN. I am allowing time to read other people’s blogs, read articles, make comments on other blogs.

So what do I need to allow the children to do? 

The same as what I am doing. I need to model how to use social media, how to write a blog post, how to make a comment that probes deeper, how to ask questions, how to interact with others, how to see the bigger picture. To do this I am making:-

  • time for technology modelling – how to write a blog post, how to make a comment, using my PLN
  • time in my classroom so that children can have opportunities to mess around with technology
  • blogging writing time as literacy centres
  • blogging reading time as literacy centres
  • time to find out and begin the journey on the Out of Eden Learn project
  • time to connect with other children in other class’s and other schools from around the world
  • time to take part in global days ( e.g. dot day)

I know I have to do more but it is a start…

There are other projects that are beginning to stoke the digital campfire. They are changing the way that social media can be used to tell meaningful authentic stories that can bring about real change and focus on big ideas. These stories and social media projects are the way that us, the educators, need to start using it in the classroom to make a change.

Projects such as : –

The digital campfire idea came from watching this wonderful, powerful video via

If we do this then we will have stoked the campfire enabling children to tell their story to a authentic global audience bringing about change in the world. Are you stoking your digital campfire? 

8 thoughts on “Are we stoking the Digital Campfires?

  1. Hi Joel,

    Really enjoyed your post. I had just been looking at #digitalcampfires and so reading your post was very timely. I have been thinking a lot about how to implement in Grade 1 and join the Out of Eden Learn project and I totally agree that we need to model all of these platforms to our students. I will share the way in that I have planned as my final project.
    I found Chris Plutte’s video, Digital campfires really powerful- thank you for posting such thought provoking reflections.


    1. Hi Suzy,
      Thanks. I am looking forward to the Project and writing it with you to see about real change. We will be making change in the Grade and the School by bringing a truly collaborative global project to the school, in turn the children will be part of a truly collaborative global project that allows for them to see things from different perspectives and bring about real change. Win… win..
      Thanks again, such a pleasure to work alongside you.


  2. Hello Joel

    Thanks for sharing that term, “Digital Campfire” with me. I had not heard of that term before. Thank you for that video clip too. It’s a keeper!

    I remember reading somewhere that stories help us develop empathy as we let down our mental guards (put down our prejudice, open up our minds more) when we are listening to a story. If we listen to something expository, we spend a lot of the time finding the points of differences and creating arguments in our minds. When we listen to stories, this doesn’t happen. This opening up of ourselves makes room for empathy to grow.

    Each of us have a special story that can’t be retold by anyone. Each of us is a unique valuable person with a story worth listening to. If teachers could just tap into that hunger that each child has to share his/her story, boy I bet we’d fix the problem of engagement and motivation in our classrooms. There are many avenues to tell our story. I don’t think one type of media is better than the other. I actually love the old fashioned paper journal. At the same time, I know that children are using many new forms of media that I have little experience with. They should be able to chose the form of media that suits them the best. So, that behoves teachers to at least have a passing acquaintance with what is out there. It sounds like that Coetail is already pushing you to discover what these new things might be. We never know what might be the “match” that lights that fire for someone 🙂


    1. Hi Vivian,
      Thanks for the comment. I completely agree with your comment about stories allowing us to open up to make room for empathy to grow. My thoughts turn to a wonderful quote from the Poet and Author Michael Rosen when he says “We are in stories (narratives), we make them up, we use them, we are in some senses made by them.” ( I really think that stories have the power to bring about real change (locally and on a global scale) and some of the organisations and projects, I mentioned in the blogpost, can make a real difference. Lets hope I find the “match” for my students!


  3. Joel,

    I am also fascinated by this idea of digital campfires. As the world becomes more and more interconnected, it is easier than ever before to get our classrooms connected. Through the power of social media, classroom connections are just one click away. The prospect of a future (or yet undiscovered present) where students can share stories is incredibly exciting.

    I think you really get to the main point when you discuss modeling. While this is something that teachers always think about, I have never thought about it more than during Course 1. I think even discussing ideas like COETAIL with students, and discussing these connections WE are making around the world can really spark students’ interest in regards to both collaboration and life long learning. If we can model for students that we are also thinking critically, students may be more enticed to make the jump themselves. I know that I also need to delve deeper in regards to twitter, as this is one area that students could really use modelling, but unfortunately thus far in the course there has only been so much time.

    I am left with the question you posed: Are you stoking your digital campfire? When reflecting on this idea, although we can always go further, I am happy with the progress I have made thus far in this regard.

    Thank you for such a thought provoking post!


    1. Hi Kyle,
      Thanks for your comment. You have made a great connection (that I have as yet completely overlooked) about discussing the ideas like COETAIL with my students. I am going to go in to school tomorrow and discuss “my homework” with my class of 6-7 year olds. Modelling is so important in any classroom and we need to be an example in thinking and working in a collaborative manner. I agree about the time issue as well – there is only so much that we can do. We need to be kind to ourselves! Thanks for answering my question and I am feeling in a similar vain, I am happy with my progress so far…
      Thanks again for helping my digital campfire!


  4. Wow Joel that is a really powerful post. I had never heard of digital campfires but what a fantastic idea. I am perhaps a little less brave than you in terms of ideas on how to use this, but I wondered if it could be used in a less hard-hitting way as well.Could teachers set up something to get more children enjoying reading. Could schools from different countries ‘camp out’ in class and read stories to each other as a regular program? Could schools do it within schools to add something extra to reading?

    I also think you made a really valid point that teachers must be modelling as well as showing students how to use networks in their daily lives. You really got me thinking as to whether I do that and I have to say rather disappointingly, my answer was no.

    Thank you so much for sparking two ideas with one post (is that a twenty first century remake of a famous proverb involving birds and stones?). I will start to model how I use my social media in class through our blog and class twitter account. I will also start to think about how digital campfires could help bring the world to the classroom. Thank you!


    1. Hi Iain,
      Thanks for the comments. I really like your idea about reading across different schools and countries. That really could be a great opportunity for giving reading a truly global connection, no matter what age the children. “Camping out” I might borrow that idea!
      Social media can have a part to play in education. I think a lot of the difficulties teachers may face is the administrators and parents. I suppose it is our job to change the perception of these tools. Hopefully digital campfires and camping out can help that change. Cheers Joel


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