In a recent post I write Social Networking for Innovative Educators where I discuss why educators should participate in social networks. I have a class coming up on Cyber Safety and I'd like to share experiences educators have had teaching social networking with students. Does anyone do this? If so, can you share your experiences doing so, including any pushback?
I participated in Ginger's project. She has an AMAZING wealth of resources at the link she posted: daily lesson plans, gobs of You-Tube Videos, etc. Fantastic resource for anybody interested in teaching cyber safety to kids.
Blocking is not the answer - however I believe that teaching them from a very young age about Cyber safety and openly discussing the problems they can encounter on the Internet is the only way to go. They need to be Cyber Savvy in this world.
MySpace is blocked from our district, but Wikispaces.com is not. So my classes use Wikispaces as a social network rather than a wiki per se, which I write about in my blog and other postings.
I initially used wikis with my Spanish class but recently I expanded the program. In my Teen Leadership class at the middle school level, I recently had my students do a slideshow on drug abuse on Scrapblog.com which they then posted to their wiki. Afterward, we discussed the difference between doing a report on drug abuse on paper versus doing one that got posted on the web. When they realized that the only ones who would see it on paper were their teacher and themselves, but on the web they had the possibility of reaching their peers, their school and even the world, they were really excited.
I showed them how easy it was to find them on the web if someone knows their log-on name or space name, and they were creeped -out. This helped them see how important it is to shield thier identity and personal information on the web. Then we discussed under what circumstances we might actually want to be found on the web. Since it is a leadership class, there are times when we want to get our message out. After all, who are we leading if no one is following? I showed them how to bring their postings up higher in the search engines by posting on forums and making frequent blasts and bulletins on the social networking sites. I showed them how to copy the code of their slideshows and send them out to their friends. This raises their likelihood of being clicked on by their friends and them sending them on to others. And within each online community, whether Wikispaces.com, Scrapblog.com, MySpace, Blogger, Voki, or whichever one might use, they have a ranking of most viewed, most edited, etc. All of these list these to show who is using their site most effectively and getting the most attention. So we looked at how people get more views and more activity and what is the value in that.
The year is winding up now, but these last few days it will be a very interesting discussion. we will discuss your question and see what they come up with and what they think we should make parameters for next years' learning!
Those sites are also blocked at our school. However, the majority of our students blog and this has created a social network for them, with students from over the globe commenting or sharing blog posts with us. I am sure that many of them keep in social contact with myspace, facebook etc outside school hours.
I taught a school in Canada about Australian culture from my own home as they were studying Oceana and Australia. They used facebook, and as their teacher had placed a message on the bulletin board about the webcast, I had all their questions accessed before I started my skype session with them, and immediately after they wrote their evaluations on the teacher's facebook so I had some wonderful feedback. I would love to use this means in our own school
With our year 9/10 students we have shared live blogging with www.coveritlive.com with a school in the US. It has moderation powers but the students love it and beg for more. This has led us have a final session using skype and videoconferencing with a show and tell session. The students again are pleading for more but our US contacts now move onto the next level of school elsewhere. We have had absolutely no issues with cybersafety over the 8 months that we have been doing this. Next semester I hope to look at youthtwitter. We have only had powerful learning outcomes.
Choosing to teach internet safety may no longer be optional Schools soon required to teach web safety. Using student tools (MySpace) with students in the classroom doesn't work for me. It seems fraught with problems--- I don't think I'd want to monitor the uploading of video, the pirating of music, inviting friends, IM, chat, private messages etc. You guys can take that risk.
Collaboration amongst students is brilliant--but there are ways to do it where teaching, thinking and learning are enhanced. I know, I know there are lots of people who think teens want to learn where they play, I'm not one of them.
I teach a technology course, and the students are doing projects at the moment. For some projects I am going to have students teach the faculty about various technologies that they have more experience with, e.g., MySpace. Another student is going to teach us (poor ignorant faculty) about Skype.
I'm interested in the Acceptable Use Policies for districts that allow Social Networking. I would like to see how you handle the interaction between students and people outside of the control of the district. What position would the district be in, if something happened to a student.
I see the benefit in social networking, but I also see why most districts block access. If you have access to your districts AUP and allow access to social networking sites, please share.