Social Networking

social media by Sean MacEntee, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License by Sean MacEntee

What is Social Networking?

Social networking is really just a group of individuals connected through a relationships. In the virtual world this connection is via the internet. When we think about social networking we usually think of all the websites blocked to students and the bans we have regarding cell phone use and computers – Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter. However, more and more teachers have begun to embrace the notion of using such popular social networking sites as an instructional tool.

Although, the use of social media can be a bit scary for many educators concerned about crossing professional boundaries, Dan Klamm and Tanveer Ali provide tips for effective use of social media in the classroom:

1. Survey your students about the social media they use and find out if they would be interested in using it in the classroom. My experience has been that they want to keep Facebook private and personal but are open to experimenting with Twitter in an educational setting.

2. Utilize groups and communities to create a class page on Facebook or a class hashtag for Twitter which will help to separate personal and professional dialogue and create a greater level of comfort for you and your students.

3. Establish clearly communicated boundaries for your students and yourself in terms of how you will communicate and what you will communicate.

4. Let down school filters cautiously. Thoroughly check out the web resources, who has access, what can and can’t be posted and alwasy educate students and your school community on privacy, password protections, and cyber-safety.

5. Add digital citizenship to your curriculum. Check out the previous page on Digital Citizenship for curricular ideas and resources.

For more ideas on how to use social networking in the classroom including the cases for and against check out M.Madan’s post “Social Networking in the Classroom” which effectively explores what social networking has to offer to learning: instant connection to promote sharing and collaboration in an constructivist pedagogy; and what social networking does not offer to learning: it does not ensure the developmnet of a community of learning. To combat that he suggests a couple of important instructional considerations:

1. Maintain a constant presence.

2. Use a variety of supporting tools to process information.

3. Actively synthesize broadly scoped ideas into workable areas.

4. Continue to engage students.

Or check out “7 Reasons to Leverage Social Networking in the Classroom”  or Classroom 2.0 for other great ideas!

All About Twitter

Maybe the best way to understand how you can use Twitter in your classroom is to let it be your classsroom for a while. Start by using it to create  a personal learning network for your own professional development. Sonja Cole suggest “25 Ways to Teach with Twitter” beginning with simple things like asking for lessons and books,

For other great ideas take a look at the following:

Google Presentation – 23 Interesting Ways to Use Twitter in the Classroom

Once A Teacher Blog – A Teacher’s Guide to Twitter

Edudemic – The Ultimate Guide To Twitter in the Classroom

Youtube Video – Twitter in the Classoom

Have you used Twitter in the classroom? If so share your experiences!

All About Facebook

By now everyone has seen the movie The Social Network which using a great deal of poetic license chronicles the rise of Facebook. Founded in 2003 it now enjoys over 800 million active users. You may know it as a distraction to your students constantly checking messages from their inbox via their smart phones, or the fall out of bullying and verbal assaults which begin on Facebook and play out in your school. It’s not wonder the site is blocked in many school divisions. However, as a means of creating a social network of learners it has great potential. Similar to the advantages of Twitter, it allows the learning to be extended beyond the classroom, frees up instructional time so that the classroom teacher can maximize time on task. engages students, connects them as a group of learners, is easily accessible, and best of all – it is free! If you need anymore convincing check out 50 Ways to Invite Facebook into Your Classroom. The cautions, of course, are privacy laws and the respect of boundaries between teachers as professionals and their students. The key is to develop a separate class page and not to friend students to your personal Facebook page. For great tips and ideas on how to use Facebook in your classroom as well as some cautions check out the following resources:

Using Facebook in the Classroom

100 Ways You Should Be Using Facebook in the Classroom

EduBlogger – The Why and How of Using Facebook for Educators

If you want to view a quick tutorial on setting up a Facebook for your page watch the following Youtube video: Facebook for Your Classroom.

Have you used Facebook or other social networking sites in your classroom? Please Share your challenges and successes with social networking in your class!


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