Social Networks in Classrooms….Really?

A classroom is probably the last place you think you would see a Facebook page, up on a computer screen, being that most schools have blocked the social site. Although I am a member of the digital generation there is no way I would let my students use Facebook in the classroom…or at least I thought I wouldn’t until I read chapter 9 in Will Richardsons, Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms. Imagine my surprise when I read that Facebook, among other social networking sites, can actually be used for educational purposes in a very appropriate way. I am acquainted with a number of teachers and most of them have expressed to me that they, “do not like the idea of social networking sites in their classroom.” This is probably because Facebook has become somewhat of a threat to a teachers’ job –if they don’t monitor their page closely. In an online ajc article, I read that an administrator in Massachusetts just resigned because she was asked to by the superintendent after being caught using facebook inappropriately. Apparently, the administrator took to her Facebook page and made an unprofessional post about the parents of her community. We are all guilty of using Facebook to rant about people, places, and things we aren’t too fond of. When I become a teacher I’m probably going to delete my account altogether because whats the point of having a Facebook page if you can’t use it the way you want too? However, If you are a teacher who feels that social networking sites will really get students interested then this may be the right technology for you to use. I say, go for it! There are several ways in which you can do it appropriately, but you should run your plans to use these sites by your principal first. I think it is an okay idea as long as everything is private and exclusive to the students of whatever course it is only. Classes can exchange information, write on each others walls, answer questions, and create a shared space of materials for the course. This is a great and innovative way for students to interact and learn. According to an article on edutopia, it is important to intergrate technology into classroom instruction because it deepens and enhances the learning process. The article also suggests that effective tech integration must support four key componets of learning:

  • active engagement
  • participation in groups
  • frequent interaction and feedback
  • connection to real world experts

This is a really good article click the link to take a look at it, Why Integrate Technology into the Curriculum?

Another popular site teachers are using is Ning, which I’ve never heard of until I read this book. Ning is a great way to deliver your curriculum to your students and teach some social networking skills without going through the hassle of getting Facebook approved by your administration. Ning has connected students and teachers all over the world; they share experiences, reflect on their work, and support one another in the process. The book featured some very interesting examples of what Ning could do. A teacher set up a Ning for his marine biologist students and once they started building conversations they were able to invite experts, who were actually near oceans, in on the discussion, whom gave them plenty of feedback…Cool!  When I become a teacher I would probably use this site instead of Facebook because I feel that Facebook would get the students extra excited and it would probably be a lot of controversy over it among parents and supervisors. Why bother? when you could just create a class blog and do practically the same thing with fewer restrictions. However, I am partial to the way Creekview Highschool uses their Facebook page kind of like a newspaper/reminder to students of important things. Click here to view it!

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