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Social Networking as a Tool for Student and Teacher Learning - 52 views

  • Online social networking includes much more than Facebook and Twitter. It is any online use of technology to connect people, enable them to collaborate with each other, and form virtual communities, says the Young Adult Library Services Association
  • Among students surveyed in a National School Boards Association study, 96 percent of those with online access reported using social networking, and half said they use it to discuss schoolwork. Despite this prevalence in everyday life, schools have been hesitant to adopt social networking as an education tool. A 2010 study into principals’ attitudes found that “schools are one of the last holdouts,” with many banning the most popular social networking sites for students and sometimes for staff.
  • Survey research confirms, however, that interest in harnessing social networking for educational purposes is high. As reported in School Principals and Social Networking in Education: Practices, Policies and Realities in 2010, a national survey of 1,200 principals, teachers and librarians found that most agreed that social networking sites can help educators share information and resources, create professional learning communities and improve schoolwide communications with students and staff. Those who had used social networks were more positive about potential benefits than those who had not. In an online discussion with 12 of the principals surveyed, most said, “social networking and online collaboration tools would make a substantive change in students’ educational experience.” They said these tools could improve student motivation and engagement, help students develop a more social/collaborative view of learning and create a connection to real-life learning.
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  • Most national, state and local policies have not yet addressed social networking specifically; by default, it often falls under existing acceptable use policies (AUPs). While AUPs usually provide clear language on obscenities, profanity and objectionable activities, they also leave out gray areas that could open students to harmful activities while excluding them from certain benefits of social networking. Likewise, boilerplate policies that ban specific applications, such as Twitter, may miss other potential threats while also limiting the ability of students to collaborate across schools, districts, states or countries. The challenge for districts is to write policies that address potentially harmful interactions without eliminating the technology’s beneficial uses.
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