Facebook… Twitter… MySpace… Skype… Social Networking sites that make teachers cringe. But why?
Perhaps it is because we don’t fully understand how to use these tools to our advantage. Perhaps it is because our students are more fluent with these sites than we are. Perhaps it is because we are hesitant to venture into the “unknown“…
Regardless of the reason for avoiding social networking sites in the classroom, it is a teacher’s responsibility to remain current, to be aware of the new tools that are available, and to be a life long learner. Avoiding social networking sites because they “have no use in the classroom” (which really means you don’t know how to use them properly) is like saying that you do not want an upgraded version of a textbook because you are more familiar with the 1980 version.
At what point does the need to expand one’s learning and accept radical things like social networking sites as a useful resource become more about the teacher than it does the students?
Social networking sites are useful resources for teachers.
To quote M. M. Madan:
In general, social networking provides new ways to connect and share information and create networks of interest. So, while in more traditional learning environments much of this must be orchestrated and planned by the instructor and organized through the grouping and pairing of students, when using a social networking tool this level of connection can happen immediately.
Picture it: Watching live footage with your students on some monumental current event that is happening while you are in your classroom. What a teaching opportunity! Instead of learning about something after it happens, Social Networking sites and media in general provide teachers the opportunity to teach in real time… This is something that has never been able to be done before, and it is an opportunity that needs to be taken!
Instead of repeating what has already been said, check out this video:
All in all, social networking sites should not be avoided simply because FaceBook has given them a bad name. There are ways to incorporate these sites into the everyday classroom that will help expand the knowledge available to your students… And that’s one of your roles as an educator, is it not? 🙂