Educational Benefits of Social Networking

Via Laptop Security Blog:

Education Week has published an article which indicates that Social Networking can have educational benefits. According to a survey commissioned by the National School Boards Association (NSBA), 50% of teens say they talk to their peers about schoolwork online (IM, blog or social networking sites) or via text message. A larger proportion (60%) indicate that they discuss education-related topics such as college and career planning. According to the survey, 96% of students with access to the Internet build social networks. That more than 50% of these students discuss education is promising for educators. NSBA says that Social Networking technologies should be adapted for use in the classroom.

‘When it’s another generation’s technology, it’s easy to be uncomfortable with it and say we don’t need it,’ said Ann Flynn, the NSBA’s director of educational technology. ‘We want to say to people, explore these things. Figure out what kinds of tools they are. By no means are we saying people shouldn’t be safe. But we also don’t want to see policies that are so restrictive that the unintended consequence is to keep the technology out of the hands of educators.’

The NSBA suggests setting up chat rooms or blogs where students can talk about, and collaborate on, schoolwork. They also suggest altering policies that ban or restrict the use of these sites while at school. The survey found that the reports of cyberbullying or online bullying could be out of proportion to the fear induced by it. Their report indicated that 7% of students surveyed said they were victims of cyberbullying – this is much less than the 32% indicated in a survey by PEW conducted earlier this summer. The NSBA survey also included a separate study on how districts use technology. 96% of the district leaders interviewed say that teachers assign homework via the Internet, and nearly half of the schools go online for collaborative projects with other schools. Currently, 80% of schools ban chat software, and more than 50% ban the use of social networking sites. This policy may be too restrictive. Social networking can be embraced for its ‘social’ modes of learning, and with education on Internet safety, can be a valuable educational tool.

Read the full article here.

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