We, as teachers, are continuously told not to use social networking tools in the classroom. This may not be the case in every school division but it is a general consensus among many. I have been thinking about this idea throughout the semester and I am beginning to see the benefits of it.
Today, in class, we were shown the tool Edmodo. This is a tool that allows teachers to set up a social networking device with their students. It is an educational network that allows teachers to administrate the site and students to log on and connect with both teacher and student. How is this a useful tool? A reality that we deal with in the classroom is a number of students not being able to make it to school because of sickness. What do we do with homework? What if they are gone for a few days or a week? Maybe they are on vacation? A tool like this allows you to post something and students will have the opportunity to connect with their friends and work collaboratively outside of the classroom, if need be.
A quick video on Social Networking in the classroom
I understand that we have our hesitations about technology and the use of social networking. I did a bit of research and I found this site page focusing on the Best Ted Talks for Social Networking. I did not watch all of them, but the video by Howard Rheingold on Collaboration I found particularly engaging. He discusses the idea of how we can use this tool as personal learning communities in our schools and with our coworkers. I feel this argument can go as far as those we work with and teach, our students. As I mentioned above, I made reference to a social networking program we could use to connect with our students and then encourage our students to COLLABORATE…. see what I am getting at? Imagine the possibilities of creativity that could come from our students to have that kind of access.
I believe that there is a fear of what is on the internet and that potentially can harm our students. That is why, I suggest, we allow these tools so we can teach them HOW to properly use them instead of saying, “No, it is too dangerous.” Our students are using social networking and my thought is that if they are taught how to use them properly then we can prevent or deal with the online bullying that happens. They could learn that it is a place and a tool to use to really connect.
Teachers abuse the use of Twitter and Facebook and as a result we are not the best models but we can be. This educational blogger, Shelly Terell, has devoted a lot of time building a community for educators to collaborate. Here is our chance to be models for our students and help them to form good habits to.
What are your hesitations? Do you disagree/agree? I am interested in hearing responses from parents, students and teachers of how social networking affects them.