Last week I attended a webinar - Getting Social with Students: Using Facebook, Foursquare, Twitter, and other social tools with kids presented by Jeff Utecht. I walked away from that webinar rethinking social networking and students. One of my biggest takeaways was a suggestion for teachers on how to use facebook. Create a Fan Page. When friend requests come in from students – direct them to the fan page- there they can still engage with you – say hello, see the latest classroom news, resources or what you choose to share. This allows students to engage with you, while still maintaining your privacy on your facebook account that you share and engage with friends and family. I love this idea –this simple suggestion allowed me to see facebook and the classroom in a new light.
I still am on the fence with Twitter – I need to see more classroom ideas and uses for it to see the full potential. For me I am still trying to figure out how to manage all the information that comes from Twitter and how to sort through what is relevant and what isn’t. I do know that a step in helping you to process and review information is designating which users you will follow. The Today show recently aired a segment – on ALL ATWITTER OVER TWITTER which highlighted information that is shared and how communication is changing as a result of Twitter but it still didn’t sway me to see how Twitter can be used in to support the classroom. I still need to do some more research and learning in this area.
Jeff also talked about foursquare and a couple of people on the webinar had mentioned using foursquare and the effect of engagement with students on their school and location. I looked up the schools that my children attend and the university that I teach at and I was surprised that they all were online and many of them had tips to share with people about those sites. The tips at the middle and high school were general not really helpful tips about the school – but things shared among students - but the tips on the University were most helpful – including where to find computer labs, and how to get help from the librarians regarding research. I thought all this was interesting but still didn’t fully see or understand the full potential of this social networking app until I started planning our summer vacation. One of our stops is for our son to check out the University of Oregon campus. As I looked into tour information I was surprised to see that you can take a campus tour via foursquare. This made me rethink the possibilities and how I might consider using this tool and then found a blog 30+Ways to Use Foursquare in Education which definitely gave some additional ideas that I did not consider – although I don’t think that I would use or share all of them.
For me this webinar provided an opportunity for me to reflect on how I saw social networking and the classroom. In some cases – like with facebook, I changed my mind – I can see how educators can use facebook in the classroom and for others it motivated me to learn a bit more and keep an open mind.
Do you have a social networking tool that your classroom can’t live without? I would love to hear your ideas and thoughts on social networking in the classroom.