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    Lisa B.

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    While not a member of any social networking site, Facebook and My Space included, I can still appreciate the inviting and exciting capabilities that social networking sites have to offer. I just do not want that much information about myself made that public, accessible to current as well as former students, and people, friendly or otherwise, from my past. I, therefore, can completely understand how schools want to protect their students by blocking social networking sites on their campuses, preventing students from accessing the site(s) while on school grounds. A big question that arises then is this: If we are educators, at what point is it our responsibility to teach our students, whatever age/grade level, about how to be safe on social networking sites?

    Just today as I was biking through a suburb of St. Louis, I noticed a public elementary school’s announcement board/display in the front of the building that read something like this: “Are you on Facebook? We are. Join us.” I was stunned that this particular district had taken the leap to, not only using Facebook, but to admitting it to the public that they do. Have the administrators and teachers fully discussed all of the ramifications to using Facebook in their elementary school? Are the teachers themselves educated well enough to teach their students how to post items on Facebook in a safe fashion? Have the parents been made aware that this site will be somehow incorporated into the school curriculum?

    The availability and usage of social networking sites is already upon us, whether we want/like it or not. Burying our heads in the sand and hoping students stop using Facebook, et al, is only putting off the inevitable-there will most likely only be an increase, not just in the number of social networking sites, but also in the number of people who use the sites. Teaching our students safety tips for the social networking sites, in my opinion, might help to alleviate any fears we have about the safety of our children. The students are going to use the sites regardless, and arming them with the tools they need to stay safe is part of our job as educators.

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    Linda Gaither

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    Social networking is not just for the young or even the young at heart–it is for anyone of any age who wants to broaden who they come into contact with on a regular basis. You can always choose who to respond to, who to allow as a friend (speaking specifically of face book), and whether or not you want to join any invites. I have been face booking since jan. of this year and love it. I also find it addicting and would spend several hours a day if I had the time. Since I found it addicting –I have chosen to limit myself to Saturdays for intensive viewing and responding to “friends” with an occasional week day visit to the site to agree to a new friend or respond to an important message. The nice thing about face book is you get an email that tells you what someone has said or who wants to be your friend. I have linked up with multiple former students (like 30), aunts, cousins, 2nd cousins, professional colleagues, social friends, seven a few current students, sons and daughter-in-laws. It is a great way to communicate news to a lot of people and those who are close to you will respond and you have the chance to provide more details .
    It is my opinion that we should be able to tap into this resource at the high school level and use it within our classrooms for collaboration among students, for things like “fact” scavenger hunts, to find out an answer to a question that comes up in class. I think teenagers would be a lot more in focus and a part of the discussion if they were able to use social networking to “ask a friend” or contact a parent to find out an answer to a question. Just what little bit I have tried using the social networking has demonstrated to me (one of the ‘older’ generation” the value this new technology has in today’s world.

    On the other side of the coin. I also think we need to address the common sense issues of being on any Internet service but especially on social networking with not just the teenagers but those of every age who social network. There needs to be some “on the job” training on what is safe and what is not. Parents need to get involved and make a face book page. Find out first hand how much fun it is and how much you can communicate with your kids through something like face book..

    I also ventured into Twitter and the vote is still out on this one. I am not sure I get the point. I have made a couple of entries, but this is something that one would need to do fairly regularly throughout the day for it to be really interesting to follow.. I am not sold on twittering, yet. Does anyone want to try and convince me that it is a good thing to twitter??? I would like to be convinced. Linda g

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    Sarah Falkoff

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    I agree with Linda. Social Networking is the new way to go, in the classroom and otherwise. At school, kids can check with each other on homework assignments, do group work, or ask questions to each other on homework assignments. It is nice to get a chat room going for kids t work together to ask and answer questions. Students need to be able to learn from each other and this is a great way to get them talking. They can also meet new people. They just need to be taught how to use these sites safely. I met my husband on a social networking site, JDate. We met in a chat room. How crazy is that?!?! I have ventured into MySpace, I did not like it as much because there was no security. I prefer Facebook by far! I can connect with people from all over the world. There is a lot of security. I am even working with others to raise money to help fight and promote research on global warming. Facebook is also a great way to get in contact with others from my school background. I have friends from elementary school all the way through to college. I can talk to them all and we all keep in touch. It is also a great way to show support for great causes.

    I also tried Twitter. I did not care for this at all. While to like keeping up with what my friends are doing, it is a bit “stalker-ish” to have someone watching and monitering my every move. I do not have that kid of time to keep up with a minute by minute play by play of what everyone is doing. I think social networking sites should be promoted in schools, again, as long as the kids are taught at an early age how to use them properly and safely.

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    Jenni Burke

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    Social networking would do wonders in the HS atmosphere. With the creation of their own personal sites it can be monitored by ‘big brother’. With that being said, the kids know that the social aspect isn’t total freedom but there are still MAJOR benefits. It is a lot easier to get in contact with classmates, friends, and teachers via the net. With the click of a mouse you are there!

    As far as using facebook in the classroom, that is unneeded and can stay for personal use at home. It tends to be more like crackbook for me. I have limited time and have to control my usage or I will be on all the time 🙂 I get over involved on looking at everyones photos and status updates ect… too much going on for this ADD person to handle!

    HOWEVER chatting is a function that is a life saver…Gmail chat has saved me this year with some of my co-workers with getting quick ideas or quick vents out and avoiding filling the inbox with emails.

    I also do not really understand the twitter…facebook all the way..

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    Tom Brinkmeyer

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    I just joined facebook tonight, so I am not fully versed in its usage. One thing that stood out for me in the article is that the federal government has gotten involved and has restricted its use in schools. As an educator, I can see value in using a mode of communication that has the power and uniqueness of facebook. Most students and adults that I know who are on facebook seem to have an addiction to it. Could that addiction be tapped into to make facebook or online social networks an effective tool in the classroom? Perhaps, but from a practical perspective from a teacher with a full plate, I would answer, no. I do not think that I can use online social networks as an education tool for the following reasons:

    1. I don’t have time to take on the federal government. Also, there would be challenges from the district and community. Many do not see value in using it in the classroom setting. This lack of cooperation would make learning how to use it difficult, since there would inevitably be mistakes along the way.
    2. I don’t feel comfortable in my knowledge of social networks. I would want to be proficient with the tools, so that I could be an efficient teacher while incorporating the technology. Perhaps, it would need to start in their technology classes before being used in core subjects. Teaching online safety and responsibility is of extreme importance, but with a crowded curriculum in the core subjects, I would only have time to gloss over those topics.
    3. I worry too much about being held responsible for students who make poor choices. If I force all students to participate, then I fear some parents would hold me responsible for all their child’s online behavior. That’s not a responsibility I want to take.
    4. I also think it would be a challenge for students to use a social tool in an academic way. People get addicted to social networks to socialize. Usually, especially with middle school students, socialization has very little to do academic work. With all this being said, I love technology and I love using it in my classroom.

    Therefore, I would be more than open to trying it in my classroom with assistance. On the other hand, I do not see myself qualified to be a pioneer in effectively using social networks in my classroom. I hate when I sound so negative, but these would be my honest concerns.

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    linda gaither

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    tom, what about something like google docs in the classroom? I am testing out a similar type program in microsoft and my students love it. they can email each other and me. I made them into groups and can communicate with all or just with one group. It is pretty spifffy. Linda g

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    Tom Brinkmeyer

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    Thanks Linda. Yes, I have experimented with google docs with my students. But is that considered a social network?

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    Carrie Johnson

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    I teach elementary students. I would not promote social networking to elementary students. We have one 5th grade teacher that uses a teacher blogging site with his classroom. He controls it by reading every blog before letting it go back out to the students. I do feel that somewhere in education, maybe in com. arts, teachers should explain the use and dangers of using the internet and especially social networking sites. I have a 12 year old niece, who is on Facebook. She uploads pictures on Facebook about twice a week. She doesn’t realize it when she is taking pictures of herself that they are sensual in nature. A predator could easily find out what town she lives in and stalk her. Something that she thinks is play is really asking for trouble. As a parent, I do not want my two daughters exposed to the language or the pictures on these social networks. There are people on my friend list in Facebook that curse in messages or talk about getting drunk on the weekend. I am totally opposed to having children exposed to these messages.

    Facebook and other social networking sites have great benefits. One I am utilizing is a group site for my family. I can send out mass emails and they can upload family pictures and information. I let my children see this Facebook site. I do not let them interact on Facebook.

    My children do use sites like Webkins & Penguins. These are interactive sites with animals. Comments are scanned by the web site for predators and inappropriate comments. My husband and older daughter play Pirates of the Carribean, an interactive web site. This site scans the content of messages too.

    As a parent, when my children reach 16 years old, I will probably let my daughter use Facebook. I will be one of her friends and check on the content of her site. If I see anything inappropriate come through, I will talk with my child. Before I would agree to children of any age being able to use social networking, I would want something installed on my computer so that when my children open the internet, there could be some parent controls set. I think for the schools to use social networking, there needs to be some sort of protections and controls installed to protect children from pornography and predators. If the choice comes to our school district, I will not fight to stop social networking, but I will fight to have protections in place.

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    Kimberly Thomas

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    School districts around the nation need to take a proactive approach in training their staff on social networking. Teachers, counselors and administrators alike can then educate students about issues/concerns and the benefits with this form of communication. By not allowing students to use social networking sites in the classroom as an educational tool, we are denying them the opportunity to collaborate with others and for them to grow intellectually from a global perspective.

    In a health education course a unit on sex education is part of the curriculum. During this unit birth control options and varies sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s) are discussed. If we failed to educate our students on these topics we would be doing them a disservice as a percent of the high school population are sexually active or will be by the time they graduate. For those who think, “if we don’t talk about it then they won’t do it” is being very naïve. By giving our future generation information on sex education and educating them on social networking we are giving them the knowledge-base to make informed intelligent decisions instead of possibly becoming a negative statistic.

    A social website I’ve used is http://www.myspace.com/.

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    Warren Hunt

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    I teach middle school students and they are constantly talking about being on MySpace or Facebook. They seem to have their whole lives on these sites. I am somewhat concerned because technology is rapidly advancing and I have limited time and resources to keep up.

    I do believe that students should be taught how to use this technology appropriately. I also feel that schools could use social networking to its benefit. It wouldn’t make sense to just outlaw it because that is going to make the children want it even more. Education needs to change in the 21st century. The four wall mentality just doesn’t work anymore in this global society we have.

    There seems to be several benefits to social networking that schools could tap into. First, it fits the busy students’ life. They seem to be on the go more than ever. These sites also help to break down barriers that some students have set up against school or authority. It would be a way for schools to share with each other and with their students. It could increase collaborative learning and student-controlled participation in their own education.

    Like everything else, social networking needs to be monitored and clear goals and objectives need to be established so that it is meeting the needs of the students.

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    Theresa Wright

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    Social networking in the schools seems to have become a huge debate. In my grad school class, we talk a lot about how great it is to use the technology that our students are using. Our students are on the social networking sites, such as Facebook, all the time. I completely agree that as teachers, we are better able to relate to our students if we understand their interests. However, the school I work for has taken a different approach to the debate. A few years ago, the teachers were asked to stay off the social networking sites. We were told that this request was due to content liability. They did not want us to risk a student seeing something posted by our friends or family that could be misconstrued. With so many different people around teachers saying so many different things, no wonder a lot of teachers are resilient to trying them. I have personally used Facebook through my husband’s account because I have so many friends and family members on there. However, most teachers at my school have never tried a social networking site at all.

    Social networking has spread so much in the past few years. Facebook, which started as a college site, now has people of all ages. My aunts and uncles are on the sites all the time. My good friend’s grandma is even on the site. It is become a primary source of keeping up with people and announcing big news. I think if we could tap into the hype and use it for learning, then students would really benefit. As a teacher, getting the students attention and getting them motivated are half the battle.

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    Theresa Wright

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    Social networking in the schools seems to have become a huge debate. In my grad school class, we talk a lot about how great it is to use the technology that our students are using. Our students are on the social networking sites, such as Facebook, all the time. I completely agree that as teachers, we are better able to relate to our students if we understand their interests. However, the school I work for has taken a different approach to the debate. A few years ago, the teachers were asked to stay off the social networking sites. We were told that this request was due to content liability. They did not want us to risk a student seeing something posted by our friends or family that could be misconstrued. With so many different people around teachers saying so many different things, no wonder a lot of teachers are resilient to trying them. I have personally used Facebook through my husband’s account because I have so many friends and family members on there. However, most teachers at my school have never tried a social networking site at all.

    Social networking has spread so much in the past few years. Facebook, which started as a college site, now has people of all ages. My aunts and uncles are on the sites all the time. My good friend’s grandma is even on the site. It is become a primary source of keeping up with people and announcing big news. I think if we could tap into the hype and use it for learning, then students would really benefit. As a teacher, getting the students attention and getting them motivated are half the battle.

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    Joe Stevison

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    I have mixed feelings over the debate of social networking in the schools. On one hand, I can definitely see an upside to allowing social networking. It is a great and easy way to get in touch with people, especially since many students already use facebook or myspace. In my classroom, I use a mixture of email, handouts, webpages, and word of mouth in order to get information to my students and parents. Yet I know that some still never get the information. Social networking sites could help with this. Because so many of my students (and probably their parents) are on social networking sites, it would be a very effective way to deliver information to them.

    Another benefit I see is in the amount of info sharing that can take place on these sites. As part of a music classroom, it is clear to me that no 2 people share the exact same musical tastes. Often, I feel that my horizon is broadened when I hear a new tune or musical style. Usually this occurs through my friends. Social networking sites could certainly help students broaden their horizons.

    However, on the other hand, there seem to be many unresolved issues that lurk as pitfalls to educators using social networking. These issues deal with responsibility, appropriateness, bullying, usefulness, and access to name a few. Because technology continues to outpace the education system, it is difficult to stay on top of every new development. If teachers are encouraging students to use social networking sites, then are those teachers responsible for any content the students come across? Some parents would think so. And there is plenty of inappropriate content out there. Even on facebook, where I can restrict a lot of things, I still have friends who post some interesting comments that I certainly would not want my middle school students to see. In addition, social networking sites are an easy avenue for bullying because of the luxury of anonymity and the slim chance of getting caught.

    To me it seems that there are still too many issues with social networking to make it safe and useful in my middle school classroom.

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    lucy_ge

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    I personally am also double minded regarding the social networking sites. On one hand, I like some of them very much. They enabled me not only to find some of my old playmates and classmates and keep in touch, but I have also been able to obtain many new friends. Whether one may believe this or not, some of my closest friends come from social networking sites, and it has been years that I communicate with them. These sites allow me not only to be in touch with them, but also learn better about their likes and dislikes, interests and hobbies, see what they have been up to via pictures and videos. However, I have also had bad experiences, like males from various countries bothering me with indecent proposals, or asking money, etc.

    As to the issue of teenagers or children using social websites, here also the coin has two sides. For them it will be good to learn social skills, keep in touch with friends and obtain new ones. This also enhances their use and understanding of technology and softwares. However, there are always people who have bad intentions and are looking for young ones to fulfill their purposes. No teen or child is completely safe from this. None the less, I think it is not realistic or fair to ban the social networking sites. Usually the forbidden fruit is always sweeter, and the teens will find ways to use these sites no matter how hard the parents or teachers try. I think it is better if the schools and parents simply educate their children and students about the bad choices and safety issues while using the sites. Once children are educated and exercise caution while dealing with any suspicious activity, they will be safer. I personally will allow my children to use public social networking sites, but I will definitely warn them about the dangers that may be hidden there.

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    Sharon Anhalt

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    I work with high school students everyday and have made trying to figure out “what makes them tick” a priority. One thing I’ve learned is that technology is a major determining factor that impacts student behavior and mindset. We could argue all day, everyday about the effects of technology on today’s youth — some authorities make strong arguements that support that technology is the most valuable tool young people have since the beginning of time, while others argue that technology, although good, has far-reaching negative consequences on young people than we want to admit. In regards to the questions above: where do we draw the line when it comes to what educators have to teach. I have a student reading this comment over my shoulder and here he is:

    “I am Brian, a sophomore at Hazelwood East Senior High School and I believe that the youth who are in some way connected to a social networking site have made themselves extremely vunerable. However, it is not the school educator’s job to deal with a student’s private social life. It is the youth’s guardian’s job at home to restrict or unrestrict the sites. The schools should indeed block the sites from access on the school networking but should not get involved otherwise. I do not personally own any social networking pages and do not intend to because of the threat of possible preditors online. The adolecence of today have the world in their grasp through the networking but are open to an array of fire. It does allow communication between friends via the internet but that is what emails are for. The sites themselves should be more protective of their users. Before entire safety can be ensured, social networking should not be in place. A few years ago, a young woman took her life because of something that was said on a social networking site. These things should be monitered even more to prevent things like that from ever happening again. Do i think that these sites should exist? No, but I see why they do. They are a convenience but they cause more trouble than what they are worth. Social skills should not even be developed over the network, they should be done in publicaly. Those who develop social skills offline are more pertinent to have a greater success in life. Thank you for reading.

    In case we were not perfectly clear, there is no reason to educate students about social networking, the students do not come to school to learn about how to work social networks, they come to learn the foundations of leading a good life, second schools should continue to block the sites, and lastly we should not educate teachers to learn how to teach social networking.”

    I think Brian stated my ideas very well. We want students to spend time (at school) using computers … to prepare themselves academically , explore the world globally and utilize researching skills, etc. Too many students today, are not reading on level, know how to write a complete sentence or know how to solve an equation — that’s what teachers should be concerned about, that’s what students should be learning …

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    Jackie Hastings

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    I, personally, LOVE social networking sites. By using facebook and myspace I have been able to connect with old friends from high school, college, and even elementary school, with which I haven’t spoken in years. I also use it to talk to people I see everyday. It is a fun place to share photos and talk about things going on in our lives.

    Even though I would love the social networking sites to be available at school (for my own enjoyment), I think that using these popular sites (facebook and myspace) in class would cause a disruption. They have too many off task messages and distractions on these sites.

    I would be all for the schools using a separate social networking site specifically for education. If I could find a site that I could use exclusively for class, but it allows the students to communicate freely about their assignments, I would use it daily. I think it is important to stay with the times and incorporate technology and communicating via the web into class discussions, but as I stated, I think specifically using facebook and myspace, for high schools would not work out as well.

    Perhaps, creating a class group on facebook would be beneficial for asking homework questions. Students could access it in the evenings from home. Something like this would not require the schools to unblock the sites and the students would be free to ask and answer questions at their leisure.

    http://www.facebook.com
    http://www.myspace.com

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    Brian Boeser

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    Social Networking is here to stay. In five years, it will be as mainstream as cable television. There is the problem of equity that isn’t mentioned in the article or in the above comments. There are students who a) do not have regular internet access or b) do not have anyone to monitor or trouble shoot their online activities. I deal with them everyday and I do not have an answer currently for their lack of resources. These students presently do not have the resources to effectively utilize social networking. Obviously they allow instruction to be more student-centered provided students have internet access as a resource in the first place. Therefore, I can see online webpages for every student in the future but they will be online portfolios seperate from social web pages. Teachers will have to be trained and policies will have to written and/or changed. These policies must protect educators from being held responsible from a students poor choices.

    Social web pages allow interests to be utilized while practicing technological literacy. Our own egos make them appealing. I think social webpages can be used as practice for web portfolios and/or webpage design in general. Social web pages also give access to schools as my colleagues discovered some very interesting things about our students by visiting BEBO.

    right now, i think there is more fear of social web pages than the will to teach with them. this paranoia has to stop for children to learn how to present what they know. you can’t teach effectively if you’re scared of being fired all the time.

    for the record, i’ve learned nothing from facebook or myspace outside of basic media uploading, but they sure are a “time suck” if you have the time to spare.

    http://facebook.com

    http://myspace.com

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    Sharon Clark

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    I feel that there will become a time when schools will have the need to open a social networking site for their students. True there is the issue of cyber bullying and all that, however, bullying has been around for a long time and it will not stop. However, I feel that school districts should develop their own social networking site for students who need help with their homework, etc. Most schools already have a homework hotline where student can get help with homework. They can develop a social networking site as well for that purpose. If they are concerned about inappropriate behavior, each student could be assigned a unique user id and password and only those students who are actually attending that particular school district can assess the schools networking site.

    If students were assigned user id’s and passwords on a site strictly owned by the school district that only they and the educators can access,this should take care of the sexual predators praying on our youth. However, the downside to that is some of the educators are sexual predators as well.

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    Sharon Anhalt

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    In addition to my previous comments, I neglected to mention:

    Think about the legal ramifications associated with the “ugly-side” of social networking. Remember Lori Drew? Probably, not so familar, iwas a case in Wausau County, Wisconsin (google it for more info). Think school districts are willing to risk the negative publicity associated with a lawsuit brought on because a student was, for example, exposed to porn or propositioned for sex while aon a school computer? OK, I’m done!

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    Sharon Clark

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    I forgot to add a social networking site. I don’t feel that this site is appropriate for small children though. People will write any and everything on your wall until you ask them to stop. This includes profanity and anything else they want to say. But if schools can somehow hornest this format for their classrooms only, I think it would benefit both the child and the teacher.

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    tubbsc

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    I use social networking sites to get in touch with friends, especially those from high school. Honestly, these days, I don’t really have the time to get on it that much. I can’t remember the last time I got on my myspace account. I have found that many people think it is a competition to see how many friends they can get on facebook. I think that the media really brings the bad cases out, like with the sexual predators. While I understand where parents are coming from, I think that it is important to use these sites with moderation. I feel that if you use these sites for hours on end, then you might be getting addicted. It is also important to use common sense when talking to people you don’t know. I like to use the example of talking to someone you don’t know for 5 minutes and giving them all your personal information, and then you realize that your identity is stolen.

    I think that schools could leave social networking sites open for students, but possibly post their own group site for the school that allows the students to post for educational or community purposes. This would allow the students to use the site, but regulates how it is used.

    http://www.facebook.com

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    Jacqueline Powell

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    I believe the that social networking may have a place in the classroom if it has an educational impact. Before this class, I did not think that I-touch i-pods had a place in the curriculum! But I have found a way to use it for other than listening to music or playing a game. I think educators could be educated on how to incorporate it into the curriculum. At the same time, I do not see the purpose of simply responding to “friends” in the school on popular websites such as myspace. Students need to be educated on proper netiquette as well. The biggest responsibility I believe is the parents. The parents/guardians need to monitor their children on and off of social networking sites.

    myspace.com

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    Lauren Bernstein

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    I am a big facebook user and LOVE it . I love using it to see friends old and new and to post news and pictures to share with others.

    With that in mind, I think using it in schools would be very very tricky and could be more annoying than beneficial. I love the idea of using them to connect real life with students–they could meet Spanish speakers and have meaningful conversations with them in Spanish! However, one still has to consider that these are adolescents that are tempted to chat and socialize whenever possible and so creating MORE avenues for them to do that during school hours could take away from teaching.

    When I take students to the computer lab to do research, it’s hard enough to monitor that they’re actually doing what I assigned them to do and not using proxy websites to get to games and social networking sites. Actually making these sites readily available could be a detriment to their work–I don’t want to be a babysitter or to have to fight a constant battle to keep them off the websites.

    Educational networking would be awesome. I also like Jackie’s idea of creating a facebook class group or something along those lines (I would prefer in a way where I wouldn’t have to be “friends” with my students in order to be able to talk with them). I think it’s an interesting conversation to start but I think A LOT needs to be considered before opening up social networking sites in schools.

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    Pat McCallister

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    While I don’t do a whole lot of social networking, I really do not believe it is appropriate in the classroom – especially at the primary level. Whatever happened to talking face to face or by telephone if you need to ask a question or check an assignment?
    Social networking has its place, but as many of you have said (I’m paraphrasing) it costs more than it is worth in terms of opening the networker up to dangers or getting out of control.
    When these students go out into the “real world” they need to be able to communicate to human beings at work and other places to get things done. I think that although technology is great, it does not have to be the first choice of networking.

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    Debra Hall

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    I teach middle school computers. We use gaggle.net in my classroom. It routes any inappropriate email messages or blog entries/comments to my inbox. We have used the email for a few years, but just recently started using the blogs. The kids seem to like it. I joined Facebook back in January to learn what the kids were doing, and believe me, I am also addicted!

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    Michael Porterfield

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    Carl, great article. Michael

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    Corinne Drozkowski

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    This article poses a lot of great questions and concerns. I would say that 90% of the people on social networking sites are on there for the reasons stated in the video. It is a great way to stay in touch, find old friends, plan events, etc.
    I think it would be beneficial for schools to have professional development regarding social networking and the issues it raises so that they can properly be addressed in class that deal with those sorts of issues. Classes such as Keyboarding, Computer Applications, Business classes, psychology, etc would be a great platform in which to educate the students. Teachers need to be more informed, especially baby boomers who are getting ready to retire, but are still teaching. It is so important for teachers to stay up to date on these things.
    However, I do think that social networking sites need to be blocked from school. If students were able to access these sites from school computers, it would be a huge distraction.

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    Mary M

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    I can argue both sides in regards to social networking in schools. For one thing it would be a unique tool for assignments, sharing information, improving social skills and technology experiences for our students. Teachers could be the guides, like we are in so many other situations and courses. Personally, I think it would be great to have a specific course on social networking with appropriate curriculum and course objectives covering safety guidelines, privacy settings, the effects of your social networking on your future career, appropriate content and the use of organizing academic and beneficial events.

    My fear with social networks comes from inappropriate behavior—specifically bullying. An incident here in St. Louis pertaining to a social network and bullying even resulted with a teenager committing suicide. Another fear is if sites are not blocked at the schools, I envision students taking every opportunity to log onto a social networking site and spend even more time browsing the sites than they do now. It seems like it would almost be impossible to monitor at school.

    I realize that social networking is just a sign of the times. Everyone enjoys connecting with family and friends to socialize, post photos, read profiles, or just find out the latest gossip…..are these really practices that need to be taught within the walls of our schools?

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    Katie S

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    Since our students are 21st century learners and Web 2.0 tools are such a part of their daily lives, I think we do need to work towards educating schools about the possible benefits of social networking sites. We, as educators have a responsibility to use current tools to help students collaborate naturally in their digital environment. I am not sure what I think about schools continuing to block social networking sites. I definitely think there should be more conversation about it within districts, and policies developed for appropriate use of these sites, and how teachers can help educate students on how to be appropriate, safe, and educational in their use of the sites during the supervised school day. Perhaps if there was a school-based social networking site that only approved members could log into, or if the site was monitored it would eliminate some of the concerns people have.

    Use of social networking is supported by standards such as NETS for students and teachers. These standards for students emphasize digital citizenship which includes practicing legal and ethical behavior with regards to technology, and using technology to “communicate and work collaboratively, including at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others”. The NETS for teachers also promote teachers using “technology to facilitate experiences that advance student learning, creativity, and innovation in both face-to-face and virtual environments”. Teachers and administrators need education about social networking, as well as personal authentic experience of using it in an educational way so they can begin to understand how social networking sites could contribute to, rather than distract from the goals they have in their classrooms.

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    Abby S

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    I think that educators today are missing out on a good opportunity to reach students by not tapping into these social networking sites. Students are using these in thier daily lives and connecting our lessons to them would make them more relevant and interesting to students. We have a responsibility to teach students how to learn and find information for themselves when they get out of school and the internet is going to be the first place they turn to. We should be teaching them the right ways to use sites, how to protect their privacy, and also appropriate behavior on the internet.

    Even though there are NETS standards dealing with technology, it’s very hard to use it in the classroom because many districts block social networking sites. District administrations are so afraid of having a lawsuit or somehow getting into trouble that they overlook the potential of such sites to have a positive affect on student learning. Perhaps safer sites such as moodle could serve as a gateway to using web 2.0 resources in the classroom.

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    Kelly Gilbert

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    I see a lot of people saying that educators should use Facebook in the classroom. While I do think there could be some fun projects (fake FB pages of historical figures, with friends/wall posts/photos?) I also cringe at the idea that educators would ever require students to use social networking. What if the parent/guardian of the child has expressly forbidden the child to use social media, because of their concerns about the child’s safety, and we as educators go against those wishes? What if the student, like Brian, has no interest in social media at this time? I think Facebook (and its competitors) could be a very good tool for adults, but I feel less confident about using it in the K-12 classroom. If someone wanted to really help me out, they could build a mock Facebook site just for educators (in which students could only see/friend other students/faculty from the school and approved groups…like partner schools in other parts of the world!)

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    Leah J.

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    Social networking, as it currently stands, has done a lot for many educators and even communities. However, the types of sites being used for social networking may not live up to a societal community standard which creates the problem or question of if teachers educate utlizing a social network are they really creating Eleanor Roosevelt quality “citizens”. From the constructive class project pages to the cyber-bullying that gets students put in jail, social networking needs evaluation and much of it before it becomes commonplace. In fact, until a consensus is reached and a societly community standard is created among social networks, I think the safest thing to do right now is to officially keep schools out of social networking until the schools and communities can: be educated about social networking, begin a multi-level, interdisciplinary conversation among teachers and administrators about the benefits and risks of utilizing current social networking sites and work to develop a societal community standard for social networking sites.

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    Ken K.

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    Just a thought….

    For use of a social networking site in schools, would it be possible to have students create a “school account”? Meaning a separate account for use at school only. There would have to be some guidelines and rules of course. For example, the user name would have to have the school name as a part of it for it’s use during school hours. I would think that the Tech. Dept. (big brother) should/could have a way to monitor usage throughout the day. Obviously students could use this outside of school, but they would know that it is being monitored, thus making it less likely for abuse/misuse. Again, just a thought…perhaps this exists and I just don’t know about it.

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    Jerol E

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    I have used facebook to stay in touch with friends and relatives. I think it is a great way to share stories and pictures. There will always be people who use it for inappropriate uses, but I have only seen the positive side of it so far. I go through spurts where I use it a lot and then I won’t get on for a month or so. That being said, I am still happy it is there for me to be able to log on whenever I choose for free.

    As for classroom use, I cannot imagine why you would need facebook. There are lots of other ways to do anything that facebook could help you with. I used Ning when it was free. I switched over to Bigtent for a bit, but I have used the UMSL website too. Picasa is a good way to share photos. For the past year, Google docs has answered all of my needs. I can think of a 1000 ways to use google docs effectively in the classroom. I love that it auto saves without asking you. I also like that you can chat with others while editing. I wrote a paper for Wolfgang’s class using google docs and it saved us a ton of time and phone calls.

    For personal use:
    For music, there is Last FM, which displays what you have been listening to recently. You can look at other people’s list too to get ideas. You friend people through the site, chat with them, and comment on individual songs and artists. Last FM works in conjunction with iTunes.

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    Nick C

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    I do not have a facebook account. I am afraid it would take over too much of my time. Facebook is definitely how teens communicate with each other.

    I am thankful that facebook is blocked at my school. It can be a distraction. Also, they all have the facebook app on their phones. I agree with Jerol. I love to use Google docs use with my students and creating content. It is so easy to update and intergate various gadgets.

    I were to make the dive into Social Networking as tool for education. In would use a site like Edumoto or something similiar. Then its use could be defined for what you needed for your classroom. It is an opportunity of helping students start thinking of using the technology in a professional manner instead of just social.

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    Carl

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    Nick,

    My question is, how do teachers provide advice to students about the appropriate use of Facebook if the site is blocked?

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    Stacy Hollins

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    I feel that administrators need to be educated about the impact that social networking has on current and future generations. I also think that teaching them how to use the tools and showing them the benefits of the tools would open them to new learning opportunities and experiences. Since decisions are made from the top down, start there.

    I think that schools should not continue to block social networking sites. I do realize the distraction that social networking sites can be in a classroom; however, I also understand the importance of engaging our students. If we can strategically engage our students in high impact learning activities that utilize these tools, they will become less of a distraction and more of a tool used for learning. The book “Teaching Digital Natives” by Marc Prensky, discusses “verbs” and “nouns,” where verbs are the skills that students should know (i.e. understanding and communicating) and nouns are the tools we use to learn and use the skills (i.e. PowerPoint, YouTube, etc.). FaceBook is the verb (tool) that I believe we should use to teach the noun. This can be done by linking to information sites, blogs, news, videos, manuals, maps, pictures, etc.

    I feel that the best way to educate teachers would be to give teachers the technology and provide them with valid reasons to use it. I think it would be great to find teacher and administrator ambassadors that could work with other teachers and administrators to get them involved with the social networking tools.

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    Sue Wirthlin

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    1. How do we get schools to recognize the need to educate students about social networking,
    2. Should schools continue to block social networking sites,
    3. And how do we educate teachers about social networking sites?

    1. One way to get schools to recognize the need to educate students about social networking might be through teachers, administrators, parents and students partnering together on this issue itself. Specifically, if teachers, administrators, parents and students could partner together to in essence do a local study about problems the kids and/or parents and/or teachers and/or administrators have had or have seen students have on social networking sites (e.g. cyber-bullying, sexting at far too young an age), and write the study up clearly, concisely and compellingly, it might go a long way towards getting schools to recognize the need to educate students about social networking. Part of the problem with getting schools to recognize the need to educate students about social networking is that the educators, administrators and parents themselves often know less about social networking than the students. But meanwhile, a parent may have walked in on their 9th grader, only to find her IM-ing sexually suggestive messages to a boy in her class (a true story); the parent had to sit the 9th grader down and explain what was and was not okay to say, sexually, to a 9th grade boy in an IM or a regular conversation. If the parent shares this experience with students and/or parents and/or teachers and/or an administrators, and then each group similarly shares their own personal experiences, that could go really help convince the teachers, administrators and other parents that schools do indeed need to educate their students about social networking. Once schools were so convinced, “partnering” could continue with having some teachers skilled in social networking partner with students also skilled at social networking to brainstorm what their fellow students (and from there, students in consecutively lower grades) need to know about social networking and why. If the kids (teachers, parents or administrators) are uncomfortable sharing some of their more negative experiences with one another, perhaps a more anonymous way for all those partnering together on the issue could be used to get the necessary, uncomfortable details out in the open.
    2. Should schools continue to ban social networking sites? There is no reason to ban social networking in schools if Ken’s idea about separate school FB (and other relevant social networking sites) could be put into effect. Also, if in the “partnering” described in Answer #1, the kids, teachers, parents and/or administrators reveal positive aspects about using social networking at school, that would help schools decide if a complete ban is really even worth it.
    3. Educating teachers about social networking sites could also involve partnering – for instance, between the more knowledgeable students and the less knowledgeable teachers. I don’t think there is anything wrong with kids learning fairly early on in life that adults do not have all the answers. Nonetheless, if some of the less knowledgeable teachers don’t want to be taught by students, then perhaps they would be willing to be taught by one or some of their fellow teachers about social networking. One way to start would be to ask a less-technologically advanced teacher to name a colleague from which s/he would feel most comfortable learning about social networking.

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    Miss.Anna

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    I feel that in order to answer the questions stated at the end of the post by Carl I first have to take a step back and think what is it about Social Networking sites that have the educational world in a tizzy??? I believe a lot of it has to do with “CONTROL” and a fear of the “UNKNOWN.” Teachers, and other education professionals have spent hundreds of years in America creating, researching, developing, and implementing curriculum, textbooks, and tools that should be used in schools to teach the students. Then…. all of the sudden… here comes technology. A tool so vast and powerful that some fear it cannot be controlled. In addition to just technology, social networking sites have flooded the whole world, sending educators, teachers, and several others in a state of panic. I cant help but chuckle and think of the founding fathers/peoples of education or other educational political figures rolling over in their graves or squirming in their desks as we talk about using social networking sites, something created by a young person, as a new and ever critical tool in our schools.
    *Moving on to the question of how to get schools to recognize the need to educate students about the use of social networking sites. I think that just as the public school system or any school system has had to educate their students about new ways to interact with one another so will they about social networking sites. Underneath all the hype, what the schools have to realize is that once again, as educators, we are providing the students with guidelines and principles to help them create their own set of morals and values in which they will then apply when using the new “tool”(social networking sites). Social Networking sites and their controls and privacy settings invite teachers to continue to learn and re-assess their own philosophies and practices as well. We cannot make the public schools do much but we can lead by example and continue to exercise best practice and lead by example. *
    * Should schools continue to block social networking sites? This is a tough question. I teach at a small private catholic school where social networking sites are not blocked from the computers for teachers, and the students are not allowed to use them in any class. I do not think schools should block them because then, it makes social networks like something from the black market in schools. Students have enough things bombarding them that they continually have to object to or say no to, why then, must we give them one more thing that is “ BLOCKED” or “BANNED” from school. Again, the unblocking and use of social networking sites calls the teacher, administrator, and creator of the social networking sites to create a program and settings that can be used, monitored, and fun for student, teacher, administrator, and parent alike!
    *”Teaching Digital Natives” by Mark Prensky suggests using a technique that he calls partnering, where we as teachers need to start, “ letting students focus on the part of learning process that they can do best, and letting teachers focus on the part of the learning process that they can do best.” While also making sure that we are educating teachers on instilling ethical behavior in their students. Teaching teachers how to give their students the skills necessary to , “ figure out the right thing to do and how to get it done.” In addition to this we need to teach teachers how to “configure students’ brains so they can constantly learn, create, program, adopt, adapt, and relate positively to whatever and whoever they meet, and in whatever way they meet them, which increasingly means through TECHNOLOGY (p.12)”.

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    Tim E

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    It has been a long time in coming but the lack of free is becoming more and more evident as time passes in our country. Social networking has been a issue in many school districts a number of years and has been a difficult subject to address as our teaching population becomes younger and younger. WE are all now guilty by association and guilty because our “friends” are guilty for an action that has been caught on You tube or posted on myspace or facebook or linkin or any of a number of other network sites. The “police” are our supervisors and employers and HR and anyone else that would rather accuse first and confront later or worse just pink slip them without due process. This is not a communist country and we do not live in a dictatorship. The trend should be asking why are you reporting these individuals to supervisors and why are you looking at all.

    TV has struggled with this for years to the point that I often hear from young families who use to enjoy these programs and sites, ” this is not appropriate for my kids.”

    There is an off switch and you do not have to log in to the network social site. That is why there is a password protection.

    I understand that free of speech can be taken too far, but censorship can also be taken too far. We are getting very close to the Eygptian governmental control of media that they find offensive and they shut all of their people off. The middle esatern suppression of the media is very akin to the military and paramilitary tactics of the Juntas and Nazi germany and Chinese Tenamen Square. Becareful that history is not rewritten.

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