I have always been a fan of using technology to bridge the gap between distance and time. Using blogging and social networks to help students collaborate within the classroom and from afar makes it possible to connect students with others from around the globe. In addition, social networking in the classroom gives students a safe platform to practice digital citizenship that will impact them for the rest of their lives.
Social networking was a term I hadn’t really thought about much before this week. I knew that I was part of two of the most popular social networks—Facebook and Pinterest. However, I didn’t think of all the lesser known networks I had participated in like wikispaces and blogging forums. It was refreshing to think about social networking in a new way. Now, I think of social networking as a way to collaborate with others in an online environment. That broad term makes it so much less taboo and seem more relevant for the classroom. Based on my research from this week, I want to incorporate ePals as a way to connect with classrooms globally.
In one article from this week, I read that many students see the actions of adults and may adopt those as proper etiquette. When adults misuse social media in a way to share negative opinions about a topic or another person, they are showing students how to abuse the technology. In addition, poor grammar and communication is ever present in social media. These two violations of proper digital etiquette motivate me even more to use social networks in the classroom. As educators, we have the responsibility to teach students the proper way to behave in an online environment. We must also address the misuses that we see on a daily basis. By sharing social networks with students at a young age, they can have years of experience using them for educational purposes that promote positive sharing of ideas. They can receive feedback and guidance to help enhance their impact on the social networking world. There’s a higher chance that this generation of technology users will be able to use social networking for the betterment of society.
My colleagues have backed away from opportunities because they feared the types of comments students may leave on these social networks. However, with carefully selected digital citizenship lessons, an AUP and a Digital Citizenship Policy to guide us, I believe we can address these issues. In fact, because of their fear, I believe it is even more important that we work with students in the classrooms to become respectful and contributing members of the online community. If they aren’t going to learn the skills in the classroom, chances are they aren’t going to learn correct digital citizenship.