Social networking & school

By Anne Collier

The US’s 14th-largest school district believes social-networking tools have instructional value. Ted Davis, director of enterprise information services for Fairfax County Public Schools in the Washington, D.C., area told that to Christopher Heum of Even though MySpace is “public enemy No. 1” to many schools, he writes, “now, as more social-networking tools like blogs and wikis are developed for classroom use, technology directors face a difficult dilemma: how to balance the educational benefits of these new tools with concerns about student privacy and safety.” Some school administrators seem to think that MySpace is the all of the “social-networking problem” and simply block that and maybe a few other social sites, when the number of such sites is multiplying exponentially and many “traditional” Web sites are adding social-networking features. In a not-to-be-missed commentary in the Christian Science Monitor, Mark Franek of Philadelphia University and former dean of students at Philadelphia’s William Penn Charter School writes: “Want to have a conversation with an author, a professor, a critic, or a journalist? Want to utilize the ‘oral histories’ or expertise of your classmates’ families, relatives, and friends? Want to talk to someone in Boston or Baghdad about something that is going on under their boots or in their brains? If they have an Internet connection, send them a link and invite them to join your online classroom discussion. In several profound ways, the classroom is no longer a pedagogical ‘black box’.” Here’s another view on social networking at, a nonprofit site for blogging about social issues.

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