I received this question recently:
What resources (contacts, advisors, print, online, etc.) do you
recommend to our school leaders – and lawyers – so they can make
informed decisions about student access to social networking tools?
Anyone have any suggestions? Is there a place for current social networking tools in our students’ education?
You might want to look at Ning’s Classroom 2.0 if you haven’t already done so. There is a great deal of information and usage examples there.
Think.com is a social network for younger kids, but they have a bunch documentation that may help.
I will echo Think.com for middle school and a secure ning account for HS. Ning is close to Facebook and that may be enough to get it moving in a classroom. The positive is that both apps can be managed by a teacher. I say managed because indiscretions still happen, but it is interesting to get flags from middle school students pointing out inappropriate content.
I believe there is a place for social/professional networking in school, I think that anything to extend a conversation beyond 10:45 – 11:30 am is great. Collaboration, peer teaching and learning, outside experts, the ability to participate at an hour where the brain functions better…what’s not to love.
If we are preparing students for life after “the zoo,” then why would we discount anything that is used by professionals.
We’ve used Ning for class social networking, the biggest issue we’ve had is not being able to control the ads that come up. Not that I want to control everything, but if a student asks a question about ‘breast cancer’ and all kinds of inappropriate ads appear, it’s a perception problem. Even though WE know we’re not endorsing the ads, parents may not. We’ve looked at Think.com and are now looking at Imbee.com
This is occurring in the secured-LAN environment of the corporate world (think Honeywell, Intel, etc.). They are beginning to use products like ConnectBeam – http://www.connectbeam.com/. I am not sure why this wouldn’t work in a school LAN… than the obvious competent network personnel issues that arise is schools and districts today…
Ning is useful if all you want is a social network but it’s not designed for classroom use per se and not built from the ground up with teachers’ needs in mind. It’s not optimized for knowledge sharing, communication, and learning mamagement.
What you need to check out is EctoLearning.
Here’s a link to a short video describing what Ecto is all about and it includes interview clips with teachers and students at various levels.
People in education around the world are starting to find out about it and incorporate it into their classrooms and they are absolutely frothing with enthusiasm.
The reason for the enthusiasm is that finally there’s a social networking tool designed with classroom use in mind, founded on an open library where the content is user-generated and user-rated, and coupled with a complete set of online LMS tools such as gradebook software, attendance tracker, etc.
Teachers feel it makes their job easier, their teaching more effective, and greatly increases their communication/interactivity with students, parents, and colleagues.
I encourage you to check it out and would be interested in hearing your thoughts as well as the thoughts of the other readers.
Stephen Becker, Ph.D.
Listen to the danah boyd podcasts in the link…
…she talks about the use of social networks in education in the Q & A session (I think the exact podcast is this link…
The entire keynote is absolutely fascinating and very insightful.
These responses are tremendously helpful to me!
I am currently investigating how social networks might support induction of new and novice teachers. I am starting to believe this might be the best avenue to pursue in my community, at least at first. There is a brief description of my inquiry posted at my blog.
In August our local newspaper launched a ning network for discussion of education issues in East Tennessee, called School Matters. It is starting to take off, and I see a lot of promise in terms of stimulating community engagement and pushing our district administration toward more openness and transparency. Incidentally, the site was initially blocked on school campuses. It is now viewable to students, teachers, and principals; although, they can only contribute content off site and after school hours. As a consequence, there are no student and very few teacher voices within the network. This is regrettable, as many of the forum discussions directly relate to student life and classroom practice — a hotly contested school calendar, a proposal for a school “police force,” and a new state law requiring all K-12 students exercise 18 minutes per day, to name a few.
Great question, thank you for asking. I use a Ning network that I created so that my students can collaborate with other students, among other things. A few of the benefits:
1. Students work on projects together
2. Can reach me ‘after hours’
3. Can make friends in an online social environment that is less pressure filled than a traditional one.
4. Can ask each other for help and feel more secure in an online than asking for help face to face.
5. Have easy access to Web 2.0 tools for education
6. Can build stronger relationship with teacher because alloted more time with the contact tools online.
Scott – I presented on this earlier this week and will be giving a much broader presentation on the topic at this years VSS conference (http://www.nacol.org/events/vss/).
Here’s a post about the presentation:
And a list of the links I used in delicious:
If you’ve got questions, send them along.
Does it have a place in school? Absolutely! When a teacher can tell a class that a post will be made to her blog after school, and students rush home and wait for the post to appear so they can begin responding, one knows it has a place. The questions are: How should it be used? How do those who want to use it, go about getting approval to use it? What are ways that it can be used to improve classroom practice?