Friday, June 26

Social Networking in Education

At first I did not think Social networking sights would be useful in the classroom. I have since changed my mind. After researching the uses of ning I discovered that it is not just a networking sight for friends to keep in touch. Ning has many different networking categories. The category I chose to look at was Students of History. In this particular forum it has some of the same basic concepts as what I am attempting to do in my wiki space. It has pictures of people’s visits to historical places. Although this particular group did not have much more than pictures it did have a discussion forum where people could debate various topics.
As a teacher, I think incorporating pictures with real life anecdotes about what was learned at a historical site will engage the student more than just reading it from a book. I also liked the forum. A forum can be used not only as a method to debate; it can also be used to introduce a new topic. A teacher can see what the student already know about a given topic. With this knowledge the teacher can tailor the classroom lessons and discussions to the students needs.
One major benefit might be getting a student so engrossed in a particular subject or place that since the computer is already going doing follow up research on that topic. Other benefits are the direct links to wikis and chats.
Although I believe in the concept of using wikis and social network sites to further education, I am still skeptical. Homework is still homework. Whether the assignment is done on a computer, or a book and pencil and paper, the basic question still lies “how do you get students to complete their homework?” I would love to say that the students will be so engaged they will not want to stop, but I am not that na├»ve. When it comes to wikis, social networking, chat rooms, etc I think these are all good tools for the teacher but if the tools go unused or not used at all are they really any good? A mechanic may have all the right tools but the car remains broken until the mechanic chooses to use them. How do we get students to choose to use these new tools for educational purposes?

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