This week we were asked to create our own social network or share what we already have. Let me start with what I already have.
First, I have a Classroom 2.0 site which I don't use a lot. I believe it has the opportunity to be very powerful, but at this point I haven't really been able to tap into that power. I have used it a little for a conversation on how handheld devices can be used in school.
Second, I created a ning site several years ago as part of a course I taught for Highland Community College. I asked my students to do something similar to what we are being asked to do for 23 Things Kansas. Outside of that I really haven't done much with the site, but I have a collection of former students.
Third, I did do a Linkedin site (My site) but it's not been used for over a year. I really never did anything with this one even after I created it.
Last, I finally broke down and created a Facebook account. Actually, I had one for a long time that was totally blank, which was used to monitor students use of Facebook when I HAD TO look. I never looked at a student's Facebook account until there was some type of problem and I had to do it. Then, finally after my children and wife got their accounts going I broke down and started my account. I do use the Facebook account to talk with former classmates, family, and former students. Not a big user, I probably visit the site once at week at best. I post even less. But I do understand the draw to the site.
If nothing else, I believe we in education need to become familiar with the tools our kids use. Facebook is one of those tools..... Well right now, I've started hearing some students say they don't like Facebook because too many adults use it. So who knows what's next.
Fears ... Schools block Facebook. As a building principal I support this block, but maybe for a reason others really don't see. I do it only for political reasons. Parents hear about the horrors of sites like Facebook. Unfortunately, I can't guarantee them what they want when they express their concerns. So, to be able to do the many other things with technology, I just don't open this issue. To open this issue I feel would create a situation that would lead to other pressures to shut down other technology in school. Things like handheld devices, emails, even the use of the Internet. Now, all that said, because this is a powerful tool for our kids today, we (schools) need to be doing a better job teaching kids how to use it. Starting with an understanding about Privacy (more on privacy later). It is hard to do this when we block it.
Privacy ... While visiting with a student, I was once told, "I know I posted this on the web and I have no problem with people reading it, except my parents and you!" So, while we think our students don't want privacy they do. The real problem, in my opinion, is their understanding of what the lack of privacy will mean to them. No matter what I say or how often I say it, students can not see the dangers of their posts (words, photos, videos). They are convinced that Facebook can't be broken into, that whatever they post is safe from the outside world. Even giving example after example of others who have lost jobs and scholarships because of what they posted, the attitude "It won't happen to me" wins out.
Other uses of Facebook that I have seen ... Sports Teams sites for photos, videos and other information, recruiting tool for school districts, ways to promote oneself for a job, employers search Facebook on current and future employees, political cause groups, alumni sites and more.
P.S. ... I did join 23 Things Kansas Facebook group.