One thing is certain, social networks are here and will not be going anywhere anytime soon. However, what was once seen as a form of escapism is now beginning to be taken quite seriously by many different industries. Not a day goes by that we don’t hear a company beg us to “like” them on Facebook, and now educational institutions are very much jumping on board the social train – and with good reason!
In the United States, it is reported that 96% of students with internet access use social networking technologies (chatting, texting, blogging, or visiting online communities), with nearly 30% of students indicating that they have their own blog. With such high involvement in online social systems, it’s no wonder that the education industry is beginning to leverage the same networks. Especially when you consider that 59% of students who use social networking talk about education related topics… over 50% talk specifically about schoolwork!
So with all this activity, how can schools leverage social networks to bolster education? Well, there are many possibilities, but some ideas could include:
1. Creating student website programs
2. Creating a classroom based learning website (LMS)
3. Create or maintain a class, school, or community Wiki
4. Have students participate in online pen pal or other international programs
5. Have a teacher/principle online community (Easy to do with programs like BuddyPress)
6. Have students and/or instructor-run blogs
There are plenty of more possibilities here, and I’m sure there are current case studies indicating the success and challenges of the different approaches. The point is that we are seeing education embrace these technologies instead of fight them – which is great. Who knows, maybe we’ll eventually be running classroom learning management systems on Facebook!