A study, Creating and Connecting: Research and Guidelines on Online Social — and Educational — Networking, conducted by the National School Boards Association explores who uses social networking sites, and how and why they use them. The study also compares responses by students, parents, and school officials related to online safety. Some of the study’s most interesting findings about participation in social networking are:

 

  • 50% of students use these sites specifically to discuss schoolwork
  • Only about 7% of all students say that someone online has asked them for personal information, and 6% of parents report this kind of activity with their children
  • In addition to expected activities, such as posting messages and downloading music, students also  participate in other interactive behaviors:

 

  • 25% update personal Web sites or profiles
  • 24% post photos
  • 17% blog
  • 16% create and share virtual objects
  • 10% collaborate on projects
  • 9% submit articles
  • 9% create polls, quizzes, or surveys

 

This report raises several questions in my mind:

 

  • How can educators take advantage of social networking features to enhance student learning?
  • What challenges face educators who want to incorporate social network sites into their instruction?
  • What policies are necessary for the effective, educational use of social networking sites?

 

What are your thoughts on the use of social networking sites in the classroom?