The Learning 2.0 School

Shifting Perceptions of Teaching and Learning in and out of the School Library

Social Networking In Schools

Posted by Michelle Torrise on March 2, 2009

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Last week I attended the 2009 Illinois Computing Educators ICE Conference in St. Charles, IL.  It was an exciting time to attend a conference on technology in schools.   Everyone I met talked about how excited they were about getting back to school and trying out a new technology in the classroom!

One topic that came up several times, and that almost always solicited a controversial comment or two,  was the use of social networking sites like Facebook or MySpace in schools.  Many schools have these sites blocked and, according to one teacher, prohibit students and staff from posting on each other’s social networking sites outside of school

Understandably, the Internet creates many new risks for administrators, teachers, and parents to manage.  Social networking sites, after all, have been widely associated  with incidences of cyber bullying and the proliferation of online predictors.   While these risks are still very real, there is a growing acceptance associated with Internet use in the classroom, and schools too skittish to join the movement might just be holding their students back.

Hopefully, the negativity associated with social networking sites in the first half of the decade will subside in this latter half as new Web 2.0 technologies are proven to increase the collaborative and productive use of technology in teaching and learning.

I also met with teachers at the ICE conference who work in schools that are open to using Web 2.0 technologies in the classroom.  Spiro Bolos, for example, presented a session on “Blogging for the Classroom.”  Bolos demonstrated how he uses blogging in his honors history class at New Trier High School as a collaborative tool that engages students with a sense of ownership and authorship in their work.

Bolos believes, like many 2.0 educators, that students have already migrated to using online technologies to communicate with each outside of school, and thus,  schools should embrace new technologies in their teaching or risk becoming increasingly disconnected from the way that students create and communicate ideas and concepts.   Many librarians agree, but where do we begin? One source for raising awareness is YALSA.  They have a variety of resources and best practices for using social software in the classroom.

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Resources for Librarians about Online Social Networking

For those of us who do embrace using social networking in the classroom, we can, at the start, help raise awareness of the benefits of its use in the classroom by sharing positive experiences and examples of successful lesson plans that lead to collaboartion and increased communication skills.  Sharing our frameworks and curricula for engaging students in the process of collaborating and communicating in a Learning 2.0 School with our colleagues is the first step!   Leading by example, is always a best practice.

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