Education writers and bloggers David Warlick, Will Richardson, and many others see Web 2.0 technologies as transformative, a way to encourage students to be not only consumers of their education but creators as well. Students use wikipages to summarize, question, and create knowledge. They use Facebook and Nings to interact with learners in other classrooms, other cities, other states, even other countries. Social networking sites have the potential of connecting students to learners in ways that we could not have imagined just a decade earlier.
According to David Warlick, social networking includes:
- the process of initiating, developing and maintaining friendships and collegial or professional relationships for mutual benefit. Current discussions surrounding social networking deal with web-based or technology-mediated tools, interactions, and related phenomena, but social networking occurs in many forms, including face to face.
- person-to-person exchanges that can be classified as question and answer, point and counterpoint, announcement and support.
- technologies that facilitate social networking tend to emphasize ease of use, spontaneity, personalization, exchange of contacts, and low-end voyeurism.Some technologies that are often considered social networking technologies may not be socially oriented in and of themselves, but the communities that form around such technologies often demonstrate key elements of social networking (for example, the discussion communities that form around collaboratively authored wiki content).
POPULAR SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES:
- Wiki Pages - Sites like PB Wiki and Wikispaces offer free pages where users can collaborate to create content online. These sites are offer students a place to demonstrate knowledge, interact with other learners, and create a product for an audience outside the walls of their classroom.
- Ning - A Ning is a platform that connects invited users to interact with one another through discussion boards, personal spaces, video links, and more. A central administrator oversees who is allowed to join the site, the types of posts made, and design of the site.
- Facebook - Facebook has replaced MySpace in popularity. Facebook is a site that allows users to "friend" one another, post updates, play games, upload photos, create and join groups, upload videos, and comment on others content. Users have control over who is allowed to see their content. Check out this presentation on using Facebook in the classroom.
- LinkedIn - Unlike Facebook which was originally started as a way for university students to connect with one another, LinkedIn is a networking site meant for professionals. There are LinkedIn networks for accountants, teachers, psychologists, and more.
- Twitter - Users are limited to 140 character posts. Users "friend" one another in order to follow the updates of a particular Twitter user. Each update is called a tweet. Innovators of Twitter have used this application to inform their network of friends of interesting content on the web and to create "Twitter Stories."
- Voice Thread - This is an application that allows users to upload images, presentation slides, or videos, record narration for them, and post them to share. It is a social networking site in that it also allows other users to also comment on the uploaded presentation. There is even a specific section of this site with added security for teachers and students called Ed.VoiceThread. Check out this example of a teacher's Voice Thread site.
WHAT ARE THE CONCERNS WITH USING SOCIAL NETWORKS IN SCHOOLS?
- "Schools and Online Social Networking" - Nancy Willard discusses the potential problems of allowing access to social networking sites in schools. Her article on Education World is a good start for exploring these issues.
- "What Kids Learn in Virtual Worlds" by Stephanie Olsen for CNET News
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF USING SOCIAL NETWORKS IN SCHOOLS?
- "Get a Life: Students Collaborate in Simulated Roles” by Laila Weir for Edutopia elaborates on the challenges and successes with online social communities for students.
- "How To: Use Social-Networking Technology for Learning" by Fan Smith at Edutopia explains how schools might embrace social networks.
HOW CAN EDUCATORS USE SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES IN THE CLASSROOM?
- Students from different classes create a Facebook group on women in Afghanistan
Students connect with others from Australia, France, India, and Minnesota on the issue of helping former child soldiers in Liberia
- Use ePals to connect your students with a classroom in another part of the country or the world
- VoiceThread can be used to teach math concepts
- Students use Facebook and MySpace to raise awareness about social issues
- Middle school science students use a Ning to stay connected
- Check out how this high school English teacher is using a Ning to help her students discuss Frankenstein
- SocialNetworking4Teachers - David Warlick had assembled a wonderful wiki all about how social networking can work for students and educators alike.
- Classroom 2.0 is a Ning website for educators. This site helps to connect teachers around issues of technology.
- The English Companion Ning was created by author and teacher Jim Burke. It is a wonderful resource for content specific lessons as well as ideas on how to incorporate Web 2.0 technologies into the classroom.
- Use Twitter to build your Personal Learning Network (PLN). Check out this post for ideas on how teachers can use Twitter to find curricular resources.
- This is good information about how to protect you and tour students when using Facebook in class.