As the article below illustrates, educators are discovering that social networking sites, such as Facebook and MySpace, have applications that extend beyond an individual’s circle of family and friends to the classroom. Although not cited in the article, following are observations from a landmark study by researchers at the University of Minnesota, released on July 8, 2008:
94 percent use the Internet, 82 percent go online at home and 77 percent had a profile on a social networking site. When asked what they learn from using social networking sites, the students listed technology skills as the top lesson, followed by creativity, being open to new or diverse views and communication skills. Data was collected over six months from students, ages 16 to 18, in thirteen urban high schools across the Midwest. Beyond the surveyed students, a follow-up, randomly selected subset was asked questions about their Internet activity as they navigated MySpace.
“What we found was that students using social networking sites are actually practicing the kinds of 21st century skills we want them to develop to be successful today,” said Christine Greenhow, a learning technologies researcher in the university’s College of Education and Human Development and principal investigator of the study. “Students are developing a positive attitude towards using technology systems, editing and customizing content and thinking about online design and layout. They’re also sharing creative original work like poetry and film and practicing safe and responsible use of information and technology. The Web sites offer tremendous educational potential.”
“Now that we know what skills students are learning and what experiences they’re being exposed to, we can help foster and extend those skills,” said Greenhow. “As educators, we always want to know where our students are coming from and what they’re interested in so we can build on that in our teaching. By understanding how students may be positively using these networking technologies in their daily lives and where they as yet unrecognized educational opportunities are, we can help make schools even more relevant, connected and meaningful to kids.” Based on these findings, here are questions to consider:
How can we incorporate the educational benefits of social networking into student success and transition programs, which may offer a more flexible teaching format than core curriculum classes?
How can we create a 21st century global education to include project-based learning, which connects social networking to curriculum standards?
How can we teach students to become online leaders and digital citizens by using technology in appropriate, respectful ways?
ARTICLE via ASCD feed–BIMSMARCK, ND
by Jordan Stalk
What started out as a way to keep in touch with family and friends has how grown to be much more. Social networking has been absorbed into the lives and daily needs of the average person.
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