Hi--I'm new here--have you successfully used social networking in school?

I'm interested in hearing your experiences with employing social networking technologies in the classroom. Have you done so or are you trying? How supportive was the principal/superintendent? How did parents feel?

I am formulating a proposal to bring these technologies into a few classroom and assess their effectiveness at impacting STEM-related skills and interest.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts!


Tags: in, networking, school, social, technologies

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Hi Suzanne,

We started a ning site to capture a STEM related summer program this past summer and found it generated a lot of interest with our students. Since we run STEM programs all year round, we are now busy documenting the activities on a weekly basis and are looking forward to the blog feature to allow students to express their thoughts about the program and what they are learning.

We are finding this a great tool to show teachers and administrators ways in which their students can learn. From the reflections in writing to the video shorts of the children talking about their field trips and what they have learned, we feel this site has been a tremendous success so far. The interest that is captured, from the look and sound of students' faces and voices is hard to dismiss. The site is private but I can send you a link to the public front page if you are interested. We're definitely excited as are the students, and we will continue to measure it's effectiveness through measuring hits and assessing reflections. As a way to document what is going on in the classroom and helping develop students' interests and experiences in STEM activities - it's been a great tool in keeping students interested.

We will be giving parents access to the site soon so that we can keep them abreast of career fairs and conferences related to STEM programs through the calendar feature. I'll keep you posted on their reactions.

If you would like to develop some more formal assessments to measure the impact of the use of a social network such as ning, please let me know. We can set up a wiki with others who are interested.

Hello Blanca,

Your work sounds fascinating! My school is just exploring STEM and the possibility that we might be able to begin a program in our elementary school. We are using a ning site for teacher PLCs too. Could you please send the link to your front page to me? I sure would appreciate it! If you do set up a wiki would you include me?

Thanks so much!
Hi Elise, I will be glad to send you the link. I would love to get a wiki going and plan on checking out the information on the site that Steve references below to make sure I'm not duplicating anything! If you find information first please let me know. So glad to hear that you have been able to use a ning site for teacher PLCs. Perhaps you could share some of the ways that your district allowed that as an option. Thanks!
Blanca, Your program sounds awesome . I will be contacting you privately for more info. Thanks for the reply!
Bianca, I haven't used them a lot but I find this guy's assessment rubrics pretty cool. He's taken the "old" Bloom's Taxonomy and reworked it into Bloom's "Digital" Taxonomy. He has designed tons of assessments and has one for each tool. I've used the blog rubic and loved it. Check out Andrew Churches' Edorigami
Nancy, Thanks for sharing this. This is wonderful!

You might find an even more targeted audience for this question at http://education.ning.com/.

I also forgot to mention the wiki of social network in education at http://socialnetworksined.wikispaces.com/. :)
I would like to start using social networking in my classroom as well, to better be able to teach and reach my students. The problem I am running into is all the sites I find (at home while working at night) are not accessable at school. Any thoughts on how to talk with the powers that be about allowing access to these things? I just want to have some thoughts and ideas on how other teachers are using them successfully with their classrom before I bring the thought up to my principal.
Jillian, you can do several things...

You can make a really good case for using a collaborative site to your instructional director and your technology director but first try going straight to the person who can take the filter off. Here are some things you can try to explain.

1. You can make sure that all discussion forum postings are set to moderate and approve comments.
2. You can ensure that students do not have access to email accounts by using the "professors'email-studentcode@gmail.com" strategy to allow students to register for sites without email addresses. This will allow you to open up accounts with your address but with any use of that email going directly to your account.
3. You can make sure that you have acceptable use policies in your district that cover the use of collaborative sites.
4. You can implement a zero tolerance policy
5. You can implement the social network as part of a pilot and initiative to teach students about internet safety, security and etiquette

I know there is research to support using these networks in learning environments. Try a Google search on the EDC or some of the Technology journals like T.H.E. Journal.

Good luck and keep us posted!
Interesting question! And.. I can't really answer :P I just think this is great question and am interested in hearing people's thoughts.

On the one hand, I understand why schools would filter some sites, like MySpace or YouTube, given the almost complete lack of regulation there.

But I've also seen some parents/teachers/students-friendly sites that have been created to appease everybody that they end up being flatout *bland* and NOT engaging students. (Haha I'll leave those sites unnamed for fear of offending anyone).

How do others feel about this?
Hi. Yes, we use social networking tools all the time. I am teaching at a school in New Zealand that is part of an e-learning cluster of schools (Welcom) that makes use of Moodle as platform to engage students. Welcom stands for Wairarapa Electronic Learning Community and has been going for about three years now. Although we have some irresponsible use of the facility, this is very small. The majority of students respect the opportunity as they experience the difference it has made to their learning experiences.

Dawid de Villiers



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