Social Networking in the Classroom: An Introduction

With more and more schools moving towards having a 1:2:1 environment, educators are trying to find the best ways into incorporate popular social networking sites into the educational environment. This entry marks the first in a weekly series to give teachers some ideas on how these web sites can be used in the classroom.

Hand drawing a thumbs up

Today, over 60% of educators are using social media in their classes in an effort to better relate and connect with their students. Rather than trying to keep students from accessing social media in schools, educators can take advantage of these site to enhance the classroom setting.

There are many schools of thought when it comes to integrating technology into classroom and it’s important to pay attention to the pros and cons when planning to do so. Many advocates feel that it is the natural evolution of education to begin to enhance learning with technology and social media while critics are calling for strict regulation and even reject the idea all together.

When considering to go ahead and use social media in the classroom it’s important to decided if the benefits outweigh the risks. To give an idea of what people are saying, I’ve compiled some of the pros and cons here.

PROS

Using the Tools They Know- Our students are already walking into the classroom with a working knowledge of the world wide web. They are already using many of these social  networking sites and by adding these site into the educational setting it may help aide them in creating smarter decisions online and create a positive digital resume.

Real World Uses- The internet has become a part of daily life along with the many social networking sites that are out there. By integrating these sites into the classroom environment, educators are helping students develop the skills they will need in the real world by way of effecting communication skills both online and in the real world.

Preparing Students- As students are preparing to enter the world of higher education or the workforce, a working knowledge of social networks can be a big help! With many colleges and universities engaging potential candidates through social networking, students who are savvy in the online world are at an advantage. Ditto for moving into the workplace. Many site today allow you to create you educational or professional profile to broadcast to potential educational institutions or employers.

Improving Student Communication- Students who may not be the most talkative in class may be inclined to participate more in an online forum. In this environment they are able to organize their thoughts and present them to their peers. Students may also be more inclined to ask for help through digital communication means.

CONS

Cyberbullying- With any technology the issue of bullying is a major concern. By bringing technology into the classroom there also the risk of bringing this behavior right along with it. Critics of social media integration argue that educators are inviting trouble into their classes by allowing students to be so connected. This is also an issue that can be easily avoided by educating not only ourselves about these issues but the students as well. Establishing rules and regulations from the word “go” is key.

Techno Distractions- Critics feel that instructors are inviting students the opportunity to goof off an not pay attention. Tools like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube can be a major distraction for students if not properly regulated. It is up to the instructor to make sure that the technology is being used for the purposed intended and not abused.

Social Interaction- I mentioned in my post yesterday about cell phones and the potential to stunt regular social interaction. The same arguments can be made for social networking. While the digital world can help increase communication from quieter students, it may also be stunting their abilities to interact in the real world. Students well-versed in the online world may find themselves at a disadvantage when it comes to college or even professional interviews.

IN THE END

While this debate will more than likely continue for quite some time, there’s no arguing the influence that social networks have over students today. Many of the most tech-savvy are already using these networks to collaborate and develop relationships. It is only natural that their educational environments get on board and embrace rather than reject these learning tools.

Josh Gunderson is an award-winning Bullying Prevention and Social Media Specialist. Josh has appeared on MTV, Comedy and National Geographic. For more information about Josh and his educational programs please visit www.HaveYouMetJosh.com

You can purchase Josh’s book “Cyberbullying: Perpetrators, Bystanders & Victims” on Amazon! Available in paperback or for Kindle.

8 thoughts on “Social Networking in the Classroom: An Introduction

  1. Pingback: Social Networking in the Classroom: Facebook | Have You Met Josh?

  2. Pingback: Social Networking in the Classroom: Twitter | Have You Met Josh?

  3. Pingback: Social Networking in the Classroom: Blogging, Part 1 | Have You Met Josh?

  4. Pingback: Social Networking in the Classroom: Blogging, Part 2 | Have You Met Josh?

  5. Hi, I actually heard you speak at my high school a few years back and now I’m in my 3rd year at college. I follow you on twitter and I just saw you post a link to your blog about social networking. I’m actually doing a speech about how social networking benefits aspects of society like business, charitable organizations, and education for my communication class. I might just use some of your information from your blogs in my speech. I agree with many things you have said in this blog and in others. I actually use lots of things like online forums like Piazza for things like physics and blogs in my english and communication classes. I also video chat on Google + with my online classmates from all around the state and even one is in China. Its interesting how far we are apart and we can still exchange ideas. I wish we had done things like this in high school. This class I’m in now has actually really got me interesting in blogging, which is always something I’ve wanted to do. I hope the new teachers coming out of college start implementing these ideas in their classrooms.
    Thank you and best of luck.

    • Kathleen, thank you for reading! It’s always great to hear from students I’ve spoken to! I’m glad to hear that you have found such great uses for social networking in your college life. It’s certainly a great way to build a positive online portfolio for yourself with a beneficial digital footprint. I do love being able to stay in touch with friends and family all over the world!
      I do hope my words have a positive impact on current and future educators and they can start using these great tools in the classroom! I have seen a lot of high schools already doing great things with technology and I hope the trend continues! Do feel free to share my blog and ideas with others!
      Blogging has been a lot of fun. Like I mentioned in my latest post- I really look forward to my weekly visit to my local Starbucks to get some work done! Is your blog on WordPress? I’d love to check it out!
      I’m so glad to hear from you and please do stay in touch! If you ever feel inspired to write a guest post, I’m always looking for contributors!

      • hahaha well It’s not anything particularly interesting. We are given topics and things to write about in our blogs like weekly or biweekly. Like today I will post a blog analyzing a commencement speech by Stephen Colbert. It should be hilarious. But, I want to start one where I talk about my favorite reality shows and stuff. I’m a TV junkie and I think I could bring a lot of humor to the internet lol It’s on Blogger because it was easy since I did it through my google+ account. Here’s the link http://kathleencomclass.blogspot.com/

  6. Pingback: Social Networking in the Classroom: Blogging, Part 2 | Breaking Down Digital Walls

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s