Letting Social Networking into Schools
Creating & ConnectingResearch and Guidelines on Online Social - and Educational - NetworkingNational School Boards AssociationSeptember, 2007
School districts may want to reexamine their policies and practices in order to use social networking for educational purposes, says this report. Time spent using social networking services and Web sites now nearly equals television viewing among youth. A remarkable 96 percent of students with online access report that they have used social networking technologies, such as chatting, text messaging, blogging and visiting online communities, such as Facebook, MySpace and services designed specifically for younger children, such as Webkins and the chat sections of Nick.com. Yet the vast majority of school districts have stringent rules against nearly all forms of social networking during the school day - even though students and parents report few problem behaviors online.
Both district leaders and parents, says the report, believe that social networking could play a positive role in students' lives and they recognize opportunities for using it in education - at a time when teachers now routinely assign homework that requires Internet use to complete.
What do students do online?
41% post messages
32% download music
30% download videos
29% upload music
25% update personal Web sites or online profiles
24% post photos
16% create and share virtual objects
14% create new characters
10% participate in collaborative projects
10% send suggestions or ideas to Web sites
9% submit articles to Web sites
9% crate polls, quizzes or surveys
The report recommends that school boards:
Explore social networking sites.
Consider using social networking for staff communications and professional development
Find ways to harness the educational value of social networking.
Ensure equitable access
Pay attention to the nonconformists (defined in the report as skilled online but lukewarm about school)
Reexamine social networking policies.
Encourage social networking companies to increase educational value.
The pdf file of the report is in the file box for those who want to read it.