Sue Waters Blog

Educational Networking and Staying Out of My Face

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36924662_5f7ea8ef37_m.jpgAllison Miller posts on Facebook and Social Networking (To Unblock Facebook or To Not Unblock Facebook? and Should Facebook be banned from Educational Institutes) and Michael Coghlan’s podcast on Should TAFE be Using Facebook has evoked really strong emotions. Photo by Bunch of Pants.

Lets Separate The Debate

My strongest belief is we must separate the debate on the educational use of social networking totally from whether Facebook should be used in an educational context. These are two totally separate issues.

Facebook is just one form of social networking; the educational benefits of social networking shouldn’t be devalued because managers and educators base their views on social networking solely on their own personal limited knowledge and/or experience of sites like Facebook and MySpace.

It’s about Educational Networking NOT Social Networking

I totally agree with Vicki Davis — It is about Educational Networking NOT Social Networking. There is huge difference between social networking and how we use these social platforms in an educational context; educational networking is a far more appropriate term for educators to use than social networking. Read Vicki’s excellent post for a better understanding of the difference!

The Personal Nature of Social Networks

We each have varying levels of personal connection to different social networking sites, and spaces that we want to keep private and personal, and this needs to be taken into account when considering the use of sites for educational networking. I’ve no personal connection to my own Facebook account; and happily connect to anyone, including my students, within Facebook. Yet my twitter network is extremely personal to me; it’s my personal space, I don’t want to interact with family or students in twitter.

My personal belief is that Facebook should be used only as a personal network; where educators and students can choose if they do/don’t connect with one another, and if learning occurs it is a result of informal networking and support. If we want to encourage educational networking then we should be using social platforms such as Ning community; where we can make the distinction between personal and education networks.

Banning of Web Sites

I believe it is far better to educate appropriate use than ban or block web sites. As educators, we should be treated as professional, and not have to justify reasons why we want to use a web application.

The shame of the Facebook debate in the TAFE sector actually has more to concerns that adminstration staff will waste time inappropriately; then concerns of how we might use it with students.

FINAL THOUGHT

Allison Miller has asked the following questions to ponder from this discussion which I’m unable to respond back to in this post; however we would love it if you added your thoughts to the conversation.

  • What are the POSITIVES of Social Networking? and what are the NEGATIVES of Social Networking?
  • Why do Educational Institutes ‘shy away’ from embracing ‘Social Networking Sites’ – and ‘block’ them?
  • How do we entice Educational Institutes to ‘value’ Social Networking?
  • Do Educational Institutes have an ethical responsibility to be ‘guiding’ their students through ‘how to operate’ in SNS?
  • How do we ‘measure’ and ‘demonstrate’ the educational value of SNSs?
  • How can we gather the data to show the ‘ROI in terms of relationships’ and ‘ROI in terms of information and learning’?

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Author: Sue Waters

Edublogs Support Manager @suewaters on Twitter

16 Comments

  1. Hi Sue, great post.

    BTW, Just a quick note to thank you very much for supporting me on my blog – I really appreciate it.

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  6. Hi Sue

    I strongly agree with what you’re saying here – and I will be using the term ‘educational networking’ from now on in the halls of our TAFE.

    Michael C, our Manager & I continued this very interesting discussion this morning – f2f – which I’ve written about at:

    http://urltea.com/2m30

    Thanks for your continuously generous support.

    Allison Miller
    Adelaide, South Australia
    http://twitter.com/theother66

  7. How about that? You posted about Facebook as I’m finally giving in and creating an account, mostly for the sake of research and so I can actually teach about social networking intelligently! So, i buzzed over here from facebook (after adding you as a friend!) after seeing your tweet about it :-) How’s THAT for networking!

  8. It seems to me that kids/teens would be able to and understand how to represent themselves on a site if it’s for a social purpose and differently if it’s for an educational purpose. I work at a public library and the library, even the young adult library services association uses MySpace and twitter, to name a few to connect with people educationally. I know some platforms lend themselves to more of what you might be looking for than others, but what might be personal to some, might not be to others. I think it just depends on how you use it. YALSA has a great toolkit on the positives of social networking: http://www.ila.org/netsafe/SocialNetworkingToolkit.pdf

  9. Hey Sarah and Allison always happy to support you on your blog – I really enjoy reading your posts. Totally different styles but you both make me laugh.

    Kate definitely a classic example of the power of social networking – and those connections.

    True Kelly it all gets back to the purpose and why you want to use the network. Some lend themselves better to use in an educational context than others.

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  13. Hey Mrs./Ms. Waters, I like this article that you wrote for us!

    Nowadays, children who are not even *10 years old* are beginning to become MASTERS at using Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, BeBo, and so on; so my question to most educator’s is this:

    “Why NOT Try to Educate Them Through Such Mediums, Because if You Did, the Attention Spans of Most Students Would Go Up Because They See The Teacher’s are Actually Trying to UNDERSTAND Them for Once?!?!?!”

    Signed by,

    Tommy Anderson

  14. Your Question: Why do Educational Institutes ’shy away’ from embracing ‘Social Networking Sites’ – and ‘block’ them?

    Answer: I believe it is for the same reason EI’s prohibit fraternization and sexual relations between teachers and students: some teachers do not have the ability to “self-regulate” or to use appropriate wisdom in making decisions. Some teachers, EI’s say, would use the sites in a way that is contrary to the principles of K-12 education. While I don’t necessarily agree in totality, I understand the decision. Primarily, it is done to protect the district from lawsuits, to protect teachers from engaging in unlawful behavior and to protect students from themselves and from behaviors that would put everyone at risk.

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  16. In the district where I work we have a twitter account and have been told to create a Facebook account. Our district blocks man websites that would be beneficial to learning. I often want to show videos for learning on YouTube, however it is blocked by the district. There is TeacherTube but I seem to find the most of what I want on YouTube. We have two single gender middle schools here where all of the students and teachers use Ipads. Hopefully with this new use of technology they will be more excepting of various sites and not block as much.

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