Thursday, May 3, 2012

Online Education, Anyone?

Hello Sex Educators!  Below are my experiences with teaching sex education through online workshops.  I am sharing with you my successes and my failures with doing this type of education and I hope you can learn from my trial-and-error process.

Click the following link to download the printable handout for this vlog:
Please complete the handout while watching the videos. 

Video One: How to Create a Video

Guided Questions:
(1) After watching the video, what other skills can you model during your videos as a sex educator for your audience?
(2) Which demographic do you think online workshops can greatly benefit?  Least benefit?

Video Two: How to Create an Online Learning Environment

Guided Questions:
(1) After watching the video, which sex education topics can you see working well on this format?
(2) Is there opportunity in your current sex education to integrate online workshops/vlogs?  If so, how soon can you get started?

Thank you all for the on-going support and Happy Orgasms!

 Rachel Maulding

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Blue Waffles: Social Media's Effect on Sex Education

In the past few years social media has drastically changed our daily lives. In its most basic use it is a way to communicate and keep up with friends. In recent months we have seen it successfully used as a way to begin movements, revolutions, and larger social change. Social media is changing our lives. While the implications of this change are both bad and good, beautiful and ugly, as educators we must question the role it will play in our classroom.

I was teaching a lesson on STI’s a few weeks ago at an area high school. In the lesson is a brainstorming section – a chance for students to shout out some of the STI’s they have heard of, which we then categorize and talk about in greater detail. While facilitating the brainstorm I had one student yell out “blue waffles!” to which all the other students said “ew, yeaa,” Now as a sexologist I thought I had pretty good knowledge of the majority of STI’s that exist. Here I am the teacher and students are teaching me about an STI. Slightly embarrassed I looked over at my co-facilitator who smiled and said “there’s something we have to talk about with blue waffles.” We asked the class how many had heard of it and nearly every hand went up.

As it turns out, a picture went viral on the internet claiming that a new STI had been uncovered called blue waffles. It apparently causes severe bruising as well as lesions on the vulva and penis and it is said to be transmitted through improper cleansing of the genital area. It is not real. When the students found that out, there was an audible sigh of relief in the room. It was something they were genuinely worried about.
After I went home that day, I decided to Google blue waffles to see what would come up. The first hit was a site for The Daily Gore which hosted the picture. While the photo may have been indicative of bruising due to sexual assault it is also clear that photoshop has also been to work on this picture. Upon more searching I could only find minimal information related to this apparent “disease.” There was certainly nothing of any merit.

What particularly frightened me about this was that despite information by any reputable sources, students believed blue waffles was a real thing, and were worried about it, simply because it was out there. This brings me back to my earlier point about the role that social media plays in education. As educators we need to be aware of the things students are seeing, the things that are going viral.

While in another post the importance of staying up to date on news is important, so too is remaining up to date on what the students see as news, whether or not it is true. Although it is impossible to be a gatekeeper of anything that is floating on the internet, I think educators should be aware that there is a special need now to have a discussion with students about what is current to them. A weekly discussion of what’s viral on the internet, particularly as it relates to issues of sexuality could have uncovered blue waffles as well. I happened to do it by chance. 

In this instance, incorporating social media into the classroom could be used as both a way to engage students into talking about issues current to them, as well as debunking the many untruths that exist when information is not substantiated before it is posted. As educators we want to reach our students with the correct information.