Teachers and parents concerned about social media in school might have a look at “10 Ways Facebook Strengthens the Student-Teacher Connection“, by New York City educator Lisa Nielsen. She wrote this blog post after attending the just-held education conference Educon in Philadelphia. She’d heard a panel of students who, she writes, “shared the importance of, ‘teachers relating to them as people, not just students.’ For them this helped develop a deep level of trust with their teachers…. Some students told stories of running a marathon with their teachers, others shared how great it felt for them that their teacher who coached them in a sport or activity saw them shine in a particular area of their life…. They also shared that they don’t ‘expect’ their teachers to be friends with them on Facebook, but appreciate it when they do.” Check out the “10 ways” in Nielsen’s blog. I noted that they’re describing extracurricular use of Facebook, which is probably appropriate because most of the activity in the site is extracurricular for all of us, regardless of age. But I’d like to see much more use of other social-media tools – wikis, blogs, and educational “social networking” sites and virtual worlds, such as QuestAtlantis.org and Whyville.net – embedded in the core curriculum, pre-K-12. That way, students “learn by doing” digital citizenship and civic engagement – practicing safe, constructive use of new media in the protective environment of the classroom while studying their history, media, science, social studies. [See also "How to use YouTube at school, safely" at eSchool News.]
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