by Janice Friesn
Social Networks are online places where people can connect and collaborate in ways that were impossible even five years ago. The best-known social network is probably Facebook. Facebook now has over 800 Million global users with an average of 130 friends per person. Although Facebook states that you must be 13 to register with the site there are many kids under that age who register with a false birthdate. There are serious issues with privacy, marketing and the fact that what is shared online never really goes away and can be copied and downloaded by anyone. Recently several safe ways for students to network have emerged.
Edmodo is an alternative to Facebook that is easy for a teacher to set up and to manage. A teacher signs up and can create one or more classes. Each class is provided with a class code that students use when they sign up. Students create their own username, password and profile.
Teachers can use Edmodo to:
• Create Polls
• Give Assignments
• Create Quizzes
• Grade assignments that are handed in by students
• Create a library of lessons, photos, links and more that can be public or private
• Connect to like minded teachers from anywhere!
There is a short video at http://edmodo.com that can show you how it can be used.
Students can access this at home or at school, which extends the school day!
Blogging is another type of social network that can be a fantastic way to help students to write more and increase engagement in their writing. Kidblog (http://kidblog.org) is a very easy way to get a class of students blogging without using email addresses.
First the teacher signs up for an account and then adds the students either individually or from a CSV file. The teacher assigns passwords to each student. The group feature allows teachers to target a certain group with a post.
Blogs can be wonderful reading journals. The teacher can post a question and ask each student to comment on the question and respond to one or two other students. Often students who do not participate in oral discussions are able to say what they think online.
You may be asked by parents about social networking. Here are several resources provided by Common Sense Media.
• Resources for Educators and Parents
• Social Networking for kids
• Social Networking Tips
Students in the 21st century need to be learning how to communicate online. Help your students to create a digital footprint that they will be proud of when they grow up!
Janice Friesen is a self-employed teacher. Her business “I’m not a Geek.com” helps people to be successful using technology. Her searchable blog http://helpimnotageek.blogspot.com offers tips for successful use of technology.