Foundations and Assessment of Education/Edition 1/Foundations Table of Contents/Chapter 13/In the News

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Social Networking and Education[edit]

Learning Targets[edit]

By the end of this article:

The reader will identify what social networking is.

The reader will identify various methods of how social networking is used in the classroom.

The reader will determine the advantages and disadvantages of social networking in education.


People nowadays like to be together not in the old-fashioned way of, say, mingling on the piazza of an Italian Renaissance city, but, instead, huddled together in traffic jams, bus queues, on escalators and so on. It's a new kind of togetherness which may seem totally alien, but it's the togetherness of modern technology.

J.G. Ballard

Introduction[edit]

Technology has become increasingly popular and effective in the classroom, despite it being a new and controversial concept. Many educators support technology in the classroom stating that it makes learning more engaging for students of the digital age, especially the interaction of Web 2.0. Technology makes it possible for students to communicate with other students of different cultures around the world, creating a diverse classroom. However, there are also educators who disagree with the integration of technology and education, claiming that it distracts students from learning. Critics raise the issue that many schools cannot afford to have a large technology integration or program. Regardless of these arguments, social networking is extremely popular among students with millions of users interacting every day, from all over the world. This provides an opportunity for educators to use sites built for communicating among friends, into sites where students can communicate with other students about education.

What Is Social Networking and How Does It Work In the Classroom?[edit]

Many people in America have most likely heard of the term “social networking” or have heard of a site that does social networking, but do not know what exactly social networking is. Social networking is a community where family, friends, and colleagues connect online. People discuss countless topics, ranging from how their day was to career field discussions. Since social networking sites are online, users are diverse in age, gender, race and culture. However, many if not most people who use social networking sites consist of middle school, high school and college-age students spending as much time social networking as they do watching television. With the majority of users being in an educational setting, it provides an opportunity for teachers to making learning engaging and interactive.

One of the most important aspects that an educator can teach is that learning can take place inside and outside of a classroom. Learning is a lifelong process, and if students recognize this, they gain a broader lesson from their teacher than in a textbook. Social networking makes it possible for classrooms to connect and for student to learn outside of the classroom. Teachers are already using emails and websites to keep their students informed with notices, notes, projects, exams and assistance. While email and classroom websites can be informative for students and their parents, social networking allows students and teachers to use what they have learned in the classroom, apply their knowledge, and display it to their peers, no matter where they are physically located. The versatility of social networking permits educators to use any subject and making it engaging for all students. For example, many teachers would enjoy bringing a real-life scientist in their classroom but cannot because of availability and financial reasons. These teachers could use Facebook for their class to have a live discussion with the scientist. Students are given an engaging experience without the limitations of finance, time and geography.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Social Networking in the Classroom[edit]

Although social networking is still somewhat of a new concept, research has shown that there are many advantages of using it in the classroom. Students who live in rural areas or are unable to attend their school of choice because of geography are now able to receive a high-quality education through social networking and virtual schools. Classroom would also become learning environments with global diversity. Sister schools around the world would be able to communicate with each other in real-time, allowing students to gain a perspective of their world through learning. There are also advantages for educators using social networking. The National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future has developed Teacher Linked In Networked Communities, which is an initiative to have teachers feel part of their community through social networking and become part of a diverse “learning team”. These networks would be a new approach to professional development where educators would discuss feedback, new ideas, and instructional strategies with colleagues. Besides being used for building knowledge, social networking sites have also been used to strengthen the relationship between students and teachers. Alyssa Trzeszkowski-Giese, a high school English teacher from James W. Robinson Secondary School in Fairfax, Virginia, discovered that Facebook helped put a “face” not only on her students, but on herself as well.

Social networking has shown many beneficial factors to improve education for children, however there are also many setbacks. One of the first issues schools always address is “Can we afford this?” While Massachusetts school districts actually benefit financially from virtual education, others like Florida schools district cannot. Florida school districts and many other cannot afford to spend their budget on computer and internet access for all students and teachers. Another major issue of social networking is that schools are now connected to students constantly, forcing them to take disciplinary action when students do negative public actions, such as underage drinking, and cyberbullying, which is the verbal attacking people online. The internet allows people to remain anonymous to some extent, resulting in people saying things they would most likely not say in person. The Internet provides open communication between students and educators, but it also forces teachers and administration to set their boundaries. Just as teachers have to set limits in the classroom, they must also do the same online by putting a limited amount of personal information on their user pages. Teachers also have to consider what age group they may want to interact with, for example, an fifth grade teacher may be hesitant to have students who are in third or seventh grade interact with her students online.

Unanswered Questions[edit]

Educators, school administrations, students, communities, and researchers have raised and determined many questions about social networking and how it is used in the classroom. However, there are still many questions that still need to be answered:

Current and pre-service educators are learning how to integrate technology into the lessons. With social networking becoming more prominent, what other aspects should they learn?

Are the schools right to resist technology in the classroom, or are students correct that they can benefit from the integration?

Policies are being developed to prevent cyberbullying, but can cyberbullying really be stopped by students?

Financially speaking, is it better for students to attend school online, or in an actual building?

With social networking and technology eliminating the problem of geography and physical location of meeting people, is this the end the traditional brick-and-mortar school?

Quiz[edit]

1. What is social networking?

A. An interactive television channel with shows and content from the Internet.

B. Social networking is a community where family, friends, and colleagues connect online.

C. A strategy business people use to gain more customers and business partners.

D. A business conference where people discuss the latest mobile devices.


2. The least effective way of using social networking in the classroom is:

A. Discussing the Civil War on LiveJournal.

B. Creating a story by thousands of students on Twitter.

C. Reading an online literary review.

D. Having a video chat with a doctor on Facebook.


3. Ms. Jordan has a classroom Facebook account for her 6th grade class. One of her students posted a picture of himself and several other students drinking at a party. Ms. Jordan should...

A. Report the picture to administration for appropriate disciplinary action.

B. Not report the picture to administration but give the students disciplinary action.

C. Not give the students disciplinary action but remove the picture from the page.

D. Not give the students disciplinary action and leave the picture on the page.


4. An advantage of social networking is:

A. Forces schools to set online boundaries.

B. Cyberbullying.

C. Cost of online learning.

D. Students and teachers can collaborate around the world.

References[edit]

Ash, K. (2008, June 25). Educators Test the Limits of Twitter Microblogging Tool. Retrieved June 4, 2009, from Education Week: Digital Directions: http://www.edweek.org/dd/articles/2008/06/24/01twitter_web.h02.html

Ash, K. (2009, March 16). Experts Debate Cost Saving of Virtual Education. Retrieved June 4, 2009, from Education Week: http://www.edweek.org/login.html?source=http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2009/03/18/25online.h28.html&destination=http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2009/03/18/25online.h28.html&levelId=2100

Davis, M. R. (2008, Jne 9). Classroom Connections. Retrieved June 4, 2009, from Education's Week: Digital Connections: http://www.edweek.org/dd/articles/2008/06/09/01networks_side.h02.html?qs=social+networking

Davis, M. R. (2008, June 9). Friend or Foe? Balancing the Good and Bad of Social-Networking Sites. Retrieved June 4, 2009, from Education Week: http://www.edweek.org/dd/articles/2008/06/09/01networks.h02.html

Manzo, K. K. (2009, April 7). Students See Schools Inhibiting Thier Use of New Technologies. Retrieved June 4, 2009, from Educaiton Week: http://www.edweek.org/login.html?source=http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2009/03/24/27digital.h28.html&destination=http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2009/03/24/27digital.h28.html&levelId=2100

Murray, C. (2008). Schools and social networking: Fear or Education. Synergy , VI (1), pp. 8-12.

Ralston, F. (Ed.). (2004, October). Curriculum Matters. Learning in the 21st Century , VI (4).

Sawchuk, S. (2008, August 21). Sties Mimicking Social Networks Set Up for Staff Development. Retrieved June 4, 2009, from Education Week: http://www.edweek.org/login.html?source=http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2008/08/21/01network.h28.html&destination=http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2008/08/21/01network.h28.html&levelId=2100

Trzeszkowski-Giese, A. (2007, November 12). A Facebook Education. Retrieved June 3, 2009, from Teacher Magazine: source=http://www.teachermagazine.org/tm/articles/2007/11/12/giese_first_web.h19.html&destination=http://www.teachermagazine.org/tm/articles/2007/11/12/giese_first_web.h19.html&levelId=1000

Answers[edit]

1. B, 2. C, 3. A, 4. D


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