Teachers' Comprehensive Guide to The Use of Social Networking in Education

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There are several reasons why educators and school authorities need to seriously ponder an effective policy of integrating social networking into the classroom. Here are in brief some of these reasons as stated in Mashable's " The Case for Social Media in Schools' :
  • 1- Social Media is not going away
  • 2- When Kids are engaged they learn better
  • 3- Safe Social Media Tools are Available and for free
  • 4- Replace Online procrastination with social education
  • 5- Social Media encourages collaboration instead of cliques
  • Please read the Mahsabe article for more details about these reasons.
Benefits of social networking on students :
The positive effects of social networking sites in education are profound. According to a study conducted by the University of Minnesota on student use of social media, students who are already engaging in social networking could benefit from incorporating it into curriculum. Christine Greenhow, who was the principal investigator in a study, elaborated on the impact social networking could have on education.
"By understanding how students may be positively using these networking technologies in their daily lives and where the as-yet-unrecognized educational opportunities are, we can help make schools even more relevant, connected, and meaningful to kids."
Accordingly students benefit from social networking in several ways such as :
  • "They develop the 21st century skills needed for a successful career after school 
  • They nurture a positive attitude towards the use of technology not only in their education but in their life as a whole 
  • It allows them to share and exchange school assignments and projects 
  • It lets them stay updated about their schools news 
  • It gives a quick instant access to their classroom updates 
  • It teaches them responsibility 
  • It creates engagement which helps students learn better 
  • It encourages collaboration and team work for students 
  • It fosters communicative skills and develops inter-personal relationships 
  • It helps students develop critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, and global participation "
Another study, which analyzed how students performed when asked to use twitter to do assignments, found that students who were asked to "contribute to class discussions and complete assignments using Twitter increased their engagement over a semester more than twice as much as a control group."

Benefits of social networking on Teachers:
Social networking benefits not only students but also provides new opportunities for communication amongst teachers and educators. According to a report featured in The Journal of Educational Technology Systems : " Tech savvy administrators are using blogs as a tool to keep parents, teachers, and students informed of the things going on in their schools".

Here are more benefits social networking offers for teachers and educators :
  • " It provides them with their own " voice "
  • It also encourages collaboration in dealing with everyday issues that teachers face in their work
  • It allows for sharing of content and best practice in a friendly environement
  •  It exposes teachers to the possibilities offered by web 2.0 technologies
  • It helps teachers develop a solid life-long learning policy
  •  It offers a great space for sharing experiences, collaborating, researching and updating one knowledge
  • From a cultural perspective, social networking can be a vehicle for world peace and inter-cultural understanding through the promotion of cross-cultural dialogue.
  •  Social networking helps teachers stay engaged in education"

More resources on the use of social media in education:
1- The Ways Schools are Using Social Media Effectively
2- How ToCreate Social Media Guidelines for your School,
3- Social Networking in Schools; Incentives for Participation,
4- How Social Media is The New Educator,
5- Should Students and Teachers be Facebook Friends,
6- Social Networking in Schools: Educators Debate The Merits of Technology in The Classrooms