Integrating social media into the classroom

Recently, we came across an interesting post from Mashable that suggests there is a place for social networks in K-12 education.

The post goes on to cite NSBA’s own study, Creating and Connecting // Research and Guidelines on Online Social–and Educational–Networking:

In 2007, half of all students who used the Internet said they use it to talk specifically about schoolwork… Still, most schools continue to discourage or outright ban the use of the technology in school. This is often due to a lack of understanding, its status as a distraction, or both.

The fact is, social networks are here to stay, and with or without rules, kids are going to use them. Here are four tips for educators on how to develop a technology policy that seizes on social networking as a learning tool and teaches children how to use it responsibly.

Mashable has a point. While a significant percentage of educators require their students to use the Internet for homework, school policies indicate that many are not yet convinced about the value of social networking as a useful educational tool or even as an effective communications tool. This may indicate that their experience with social networking is limited. However, they are curious about its potential — a sign that there may be some shifts in attitudes, policies and practices in the future.

So what should schools do? Here is what Mashable suggests:

  1. Let Down the Filters, Cautiously
  2. Add “Digital Citizenship” to the Curriculum
  3. Keep One Eye on Student Conduct, the Other on the Law
  4. Teach With Social Media

Check out the full post for more details on these four tips. In summary, Mashable says that schools should embrace social media to both limit the potential for students to abuse the technology and discover a new set of valuable educational tools. The development of social media policies, curricula, and usage guidelines is key.

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