Social Networking Sites in Education
In 2002 a young software engineer created Friendster, the first social network, so that he could keep in touch with his friends.
In 2003, a young web developer improved the tools offered by Friendster, adding the ability to earn money through advertising and launched MySpace. Today Facebook is the clear leader in acceptance and size.
The number of social network sites continues to grow both in number and popularity among all ages. Most teens are members of more than one social network, typically MySpace and Facebook are among them. They often find it easier to keep in touch with their local friends by using a second site with fewer members.
Social networks range in size from the truly global like Facebook to localized sites that are popular within a specific geographic or local interest area. Popular social network sites today also include Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, AIM, Yahoo, MSN, Xanga, Twitter and even Linked In, a popular network used in business. Keep in mind that this popularity is ever-changing based on technological advances, business initiatives and people’s interests.
Social networking can be a robust tool for communications and there are many positive ways in which adults active in the lives of youth (coaches, teachers, mentors, guardians, etc.) can reach out to and support children.
Social networking sites are also tools used by those who are looking to develop inappropriate relationships with children.
Decisions on whether to use social networking sites to help communicate with youth should be determined through policies at the organization level. Click here to view a CNN report (published in 2008, a long time ago already by Internet standards) that examines the pros and cons of teachers using social network sites to communicate with students.
Free social networking software and websites allow users to keep track of what’s happening on several social networking sites by just going to one place. By using services such as Yoono and Oosha users can add comments, photos, and make changes to their social network sites all while monitoring their friends sites on several networks and all from one location.
In addition to Social Network sites the Internet offers many popular services that have become part of most teens social network including chat, instant messaging, blogs, peer-to-peer networks, text messaging and gaming.
What are your thoughts about the use of social networks in the classroom, teachers connecting with students in online social environments and social networking sites in general for education?
From Professional Learning Board’s online continuing education course for teachers: Internet Safety Protecting Children in an Online World