Education and On-Line Social Networks

by Tori Johnson on July 16, 2010

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On-line social networking, the commercialized ones like Facebook and Twitter and the non-commercial ones like Classroom 2.0 are educational tools for students and teachers.  Classroom 2.0 is a on-line social network for teachers interested in ways to use technology in the classroom.  In today’s world understanding social networking on the Internet is extremely important for teachers of middle and  high school students.

On-line social networks give teachers and students of all ages the ability to do research, and communicate with each other. Social networks give the teacher the ability to assign and monitor group assignments, direct research projects  and designate special tutors.

The tools of formal education programs no longer just include the teacher, books and the classroom. Although computers have been utilized in the classroom for years they have mainly been utilized as a typewriter to complete written homework assignments. According to some educators the use of computers to access the internet, thus on-line social networks, in the classroom should be expanded.

Social-networking tools aren’t just for flirting on My Space. The evolving world of Internet communication — blogs, podcasts, tags, file swapping — offers students radically new ways to research, create, and learn. But, too often, schools use computers as little more than glorified workbooks, and that’s criminal…

Chris Lehmann, principal of Philadelphia’s Science Leadership Academy

On-line social networks have traditionally been seen by teachers as something that students use to socialize like going to the local mall.  However these social networks have a much more powerful influence on students.

Prior to the Internet traditional learning meant students attending class, getting an assignment from the teacher and using the books distributed by the teacher to study and do homework at the library or at home. The Internet has changed the traditional scenario of classrooms, teachers, and books.

Because of on-line social networks the student has access to information worldwide. If that student is having problems with math homework they can find someone on MySpace giving instructions as to how they think that math problem should be solved.  In seconds a student can find out how to use the word ‘and’ in a sentence by communicating with someone on Twitter.  When studying American History a student can get quite a bit of information about Thomas Jefferson on Facebook.

Schools should reflect the world we live in today. And we live in a social world. We need to teach students how to be effective collaborators in that world, how to interact with people around them, how to be engaged, informed twenty-first-century citizens. We need to teach kids the powerful ways networking can change the way they look at education, not just their social lives. We don’t talk enough about the incredible power of social-networking technology to be used for academic benefit. Let’s change the terms. Let’s not call it social networking. Let’s call it academic networking…

Today many educators feel that on-line social networks need to become major tools in the arsenal of tools that teachers use to educate students.  Classroom 2.0 is an excellent on-line social network for teachers that will help them begin to understand and implement academic networking.

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