education, technology, and everything else

Posts Tagged ‘social networking’


Posted by Miranda on January 20, 2008

A blip at Educause this morning sent me to this post: Carmun – Social Networking for Writing School Papers

The cheeky YouTube video that explains Carmun describes the service as “Wikipedia meets Facebook”. But essentially its a social network for people who have to write term papers. There’s lots of tools for asking peers questions, managing bibliographies, and some tools for saving online sources.

Hmm. So I signed up to see what is up. The bibliography formatting tool is good. Took a look through the questions in the technology discussions. Could be a pretty useful thing.

Now I have to take back what I wrote previously I suppose, or perhaps just amend it.
Leveraging existing social networks for education can be a good thing, as long as it’s a social network built around education and not around socializing.

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Social networking and school

Posted by Miranda on January 17, 2008

Notice the title is social networking and school not social networking in school. I’ve been thinking about some of the reading that’s come my way about leveraging social networking for education, and while I think it could be useful what I do not think is useful is trying to leverage existing social networks for education.

What brought this bubbling to the surface this morning was a post on Will Richardson’s blog: Social Networks (No) vs. Social Tools (Yes) in Schools. The post will lead to a lot more reading for me because I was completely unaware until this morning of the debate he mentions:
“Social networking technologies will bring large [positive] changes to educational methods, in and out of the classroom” and now of course I’ll have to go and read that.

But what I’m talking about is educators using existing social networks, specifically Facebook, for school related activity. I mentioned in an earlier post that one of the teachers on our Internet Committee uses Facebook to communicate with the students in her art classes. While the objection I voiced was mainly around how inefficient that method was in a bandwidth context I also have another objection to it and that is that social is social and school is school. For goodness sake leave these kids a place they can call their own!

During my junior high and high school years, in Newton, Massachusetts, we had a place to hang out: the park. Down the street from my house was a small park where we would gather and hang, sometimes until late at night. I don’t remember that we actually got into anything illegal or harmful but the point is that we were completely unsupervised.

Where, in this day and age, are the places where kids can hang out and be unsupervised? Practically nowhere if you ask me.

Now I am not saying for one minute that parents should not keep some sort of eye on what their kids are doing online, I believe they should educate themselves on what their children are up to and with whom. I sure do with my kid.

But for heaven’s sake, let teachers stay out of the play space.

Pass the tin hat, please…..

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internet committee

Posted by Miranda on January 12, 2008

Kimball Union Academy is a boarding school, about one third of our students are day students but the other 200 odd board. In addition, many of the faculty live on campus. It is a residential community in addition to a school community.
Every evening, between 8 and 10 PM is study hall. Students are expected to be in their rooms studying. Questions have arisen about students use of the internet during study hall hours, specifically questions about the use of Facebook but also questions about use of the internet in general.
I was asked by the academic dean to be on an ad hoc committee to formulate policies regarding internet usage during study hall. This committee consists of the dean, faculty members and students in equal proportions and me, the lone staff member. We had our third meeting last night.

Now what is very interesting to me is that the students on the committee are solidly for blocking Facebook during study hall.
They say things like “It’s just a big time-waster” and “You see people hitting refresh 60 times and reloading all that stuff – using up bandwidth just to read another wall post!” and “It’s an addiction.”

My preliminary thinking on the matter was that we should block Facebook during study hall and unblock IM. (We block instant messaging for those two hours) I believe students do have a need to collaborate on homework. many have told me they use Facebook to do that although I have to say in my nosing around I haven’t seen much evidence of it. But communication through Facebook from a bandwidth viewpoint is incredibly inefficient.

However, the students on the committee immediately shot down the idea of unblocking instant messaging during study hall. Too distracting.

The faculty is divided, some want to shut down access to the net completely during study hall. Some use Facebook to communicate with students and look sort of aghast at the thought of losing that for two hours.

But the students… they are a solid block: no Facebook. Interesting.

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