To what extent does putting the social network in the classroom affect students' perceptions of it? We know they love MySpace and Facebook--when you put the same technology in the classroom, are they still excited about it? In higher education (and perhaps K-12) we've seen over and over that requiring students to participate in a class blog transforms it into a forced activity, no different than standard writing assignments (which isn't necessarily bad, but is different than the organic nature of the external blogosphere).

I'm interested in what design features of a social network would continue to engage and motivate kids across these diverse contexts of use (ie. in school and out of it). I'd love to hear any opinions or experiences, both positive and negative, that people in this group might have had. Thanks!

Sarita Yardi

P.S. I am a PhD student in the College of Computing at Georgia Tech. My area of interest is in social computing, and in particular, teens' patterns of participation in social networking sites. My research group is funded by a National Science Foundation broadening participation in computing project to diversify and increase students' interest in technology degrees and careers.

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Hi Sarita, You raise a good question. I am in just starting the third week of a second year undergraduate course in the UK. I have like all University courses, a module descriptor which sets out 'what the module' is about. As part of my discussions with the students we looked at using Ning or Facebook as a tool to support the course. I argued that facebook was a site they used when they had a 'social head' on - friends drop in etc, they respond, they are relaxed. Ning was new to them (all of them) the argument was that being new they would use it with a 'professional/studious' head on and have a clear distinction in their mind as to the purpose of each tool. Most students saw the distinction as a valuable one. They chose ning on those grounds. They are also designing there own assessment. In trying to give students 'voice' on these matters I am trying to learn from them - Michael Wesch's YoutUbe videos have taught me a lot!

Hope this helps, Bruce



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