Saturday, February 14, 2009

Social Networks for education

No doubt that social networking is changing everything, Business, politics, health care and sooner or later, education. 21st Century learners use web 2.0 tools already. Facebook is a popular site and often banned by teachers and restricted by a lot of educational institutions. OK, I admit I had a Facebook account by update and post information less that 5 times a year. Many teens, or adults check and update information 5 times a day! The tool itself is just a tool. It has good features and others that are really just a distraction. There are lots of legitimate business, college and university sites and groups in Facebook, I even found our Local Mayor has a site. I found some for online learning and web 2.0. I guess my biggest concern about using Facebook for education with high school age students is that it may not be perceived as professional and supported by other teachers, parents. Students may have a hard time distinguishing between their personal life, friends and academic uses. I guess web 2.0 tools have so much to offer that I would put this one at the bottom of the list, to avoid the controversy. I can see using it for a particular task, like the student in my civics class who started a environmental petition and web site as part of his final assignment but not as ongoing assignment, work area. I guess I'll take the wait and see approach on this one.
There are other excellent social networking sites out there that you can create for free. This offers the teacher more control on setting, access and can block any inappropriate users. I'm testing one out this semester, have to coach the students along the way, they are eager to jump in and all get how to use it because it's so much like Facebook, but have to keep the conversation on topic. I'll have to let you know how it goes once we have used it a bit more.

other sources:
How to set up privacy for Facebook

Advancing K-12 Technology Leadership, Consortium for School Networking(CoSN) Video


  1. I'm in agreement that there are lots of other social networks out there for use on the net. As an educational tool, it's also beneficial to assist students with using and orienting themselves to new ones. But as a learning tool, and to ease the transition in bringing technology into the classroom, sometimes you have to meet kids where they're at; they're using Facebook. So that being said, what are the concerns of parents about the use of Facebook that we might be able to address? Closed groups offer limited membership. Providing some guidelines for appropriate use and netiquette are also required. We are in the business of teaching. There are lots of inappropriate things happening on Facebook. Shouldn't it be part of our educational mandate to model positive use of the tool? We may get farther in modeling than finger wagging.

  2. Yes, I tend to agree, but am on the fence, when it comes to implementation. If we want our students to be responsible drivers on the internet highway than we need to develope and teach our students to be responsible "Young Drivers".