Social Networking for Learning

My latest edition of Ed Magazine (the Harvard Graduate School of Education publication) has an interesting article: Thanks for the Add. Now Help Me with My Homework.

The topic is whether or not social networking sites help students–not only with valuable tech and social skills but also with learning more traditional material as well.

Usually when we hear about the Internet and students, it involves CyberBullying, embarassments, or predators. But, as Blanding points out, there’s a lot of potential for savvy parents and educators to use social media as a teaching tool. Like any other tool, there is a potential for abuse.

The article discusses using messaging tools to discuss assignments, video and audio streaming to share events and ideas, and networking sites to connect with other students. I saw no mention of Twitter, which I think could also be a huge boon to class discussions, student journalists, and students surveying people for tips and quotes.

The tech geek in me is excited about the possibilities.

The former classroom teacher in me is concerned about responsibilites. If a teacher assigns students to survey people on twitter, post a documentary video, or create a facebook cause page, what happens if one of the connections made is a bad one?

This is not a new problem, teaching authentically involves getting students to think outside of the classroom box. However, as with many issues, the Internet has a way of magnifying them. Having kids bring a class project to the lunchroom, open school night, or the community center also has risks, but those risks are easier to manage.

Have you or your kids engaged in any educational projects using social networking? Do you like this idea?

Photo credit: Tongue Out on Flickr

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One comment

  1. Thanks for sharing this article. I left a comment…

    Sharon Couto