Social Networking in High School

Is the average high school student able to define social networking or give an example of it? I thought most would use Facebook as an example, but during a recent visit to a local high school, one freshman student used e-mailing his teacher in First Class as an example.  Many of his classmates were of the same opinion as he, so it opened up a much-needed conversation during which this classroom full of 20 students spoke about where they preferred to network with each other.
Their preferred places to communicate with their friends:
As for social networking in schools, the students felt that there were just too many places to have to check already (a complaint that teachers share themselves).  It was the one topic of conversation that period that everyone in the room seemed to agree on. The complaint was that in one subject area the teacher would use Moodle, the next Google Apps, the next Diigo and that ultimately they forgot to check something and missed turning in an assignment.
Image Credit: http://treatingyourself.com

When asked which network would be the preferred place to use for school, students had a tough time coming to a consensus. We posed a similar request as to which gaming system the majority of the class would prefer to use (ie X-Box, Wii, Nintendo DSi) and they could not make a decision either. We reasoned that teachers felt the same and found it difficult to find a content management system or collaboration tool that satisfied every staff member in a building which resulted in all these different tools the students had to use.

The conversation ended with a link to a Wallwisher we had set up in the hopes that those that didn’t particate in the conversation might take a stab at it this way. They didn’t really. The comments left were from the same boys (the young ladies remained very quiet during our session together) that shared their opinions during class and the tool, in this case, didn’t reveal anything that our talk hadn’t uncovered. But it did introduce the classroom teacher to an easy way to post a question or topic and have students share answers.
Yet another place to have to check for information.

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12 thoughts on “Social Networking in High School

  1. Chris M says:

    Perhaps this bill should be ammended to read: “unless express / written permission is provided by instructors/administrators for the purpose of using technology in the classroom.”

  2. Tired of jumping through hoops to get permission from administrators and parents, Chris? I would think that in your position, as the classroom teacher, you must knock your head against the wall when you find something that you know will help your students and then you have to get through so much red tape before you can even introduce it to your class.

  3. This is definately a touch nut to crack. The problem seems to stem from there being too many options out there for teachers to use in creating a web space. But the fact that there are many options is also the beauty of the internet! It’s the choices that give people the motivation to start a blog or class website. There are tools for teachers who want their page formatted for them, and tools out there for more experienced (or more ambitious) teachers who want more of a hands on site.

    Perhaps the answer is this: Our school district has its own website with every teacher listed there. Perhaps the school can link to each teachers blog, thus becoming a portal for the students. They simply go onto their school site and click on each teacher they have, and they’ll never have to remember which teacher uses which blog.

    Any thoughts?
    Thanks!
    MB

    1. Thanks for your comment Megan.
      In theory, using the school’s website as a portal is a great solution, but it still doesn’t satisfy the concern from the students that there were too many tools they had to use. But I felt that concern was a reflection of how it would be in college and how it will be in their professional lives. I can’t remember a time when everyone was in agreement.

      A web portal of some kind is always a great way to unify everyone in some way.

  4. Wow, the issue of students having too many collaboration tools to use to stay “in touch” with their teachers hasn’t ever crossed my mind. However, it makes perfect sense that this issue would arise. There are so many great tools for collaboration on the internet it would be difficult to chose one that would meet every teacher’s needs for collaboration. This will be one more issue that I will have to be prepared for when I become a teacher. I’m going to bring up this issue with my EDM 310 classmates and Dr. Strange and see what potential solutions we can come up with. Great Post Lisa!

    1. Poppy,
      Please keep me posted on how your class reacts to the topic. I am curious as to their suggestions. An educator in the group of teachers I am working with today said that every professor in her graduate program has to use Blackboard, so it is not an issue for her in her advanced degree. But I don’t see that in any of the high school or colleges I visit.

      Thanks,
      Lisa

  5. Brook McNair says:

    This was just a discussion me and a few classmates had last week. It is outrageous how many passwords to remember and how many different emails to check on a day to day basis, and sometimes several times a day. It is no real solution to it, because the internet is so diverse and so are people. This makes it hard since everyone likes something different. I like the idea that each school has a website. The problem with that is we almost never use it, and its loaded with junk mail. I personally love Facebook as a network and just getting use to twitter, so that puts Myspace at the bottom of the list for me. So what do we do?

    1. Brook,
      Here’s two things you can do to help manage all that:

      1. Forward all your e-mail to one address. I forward all my different accounts to my Gmail account.

      2. I use the same three passwords and rotate them. It makes it easier to manage them.

      I hope that helps a bit. Thank you for leaving a comment.

  6. Danny Briere says:

    This is a very interesting thread, thanks for addressing Facebook. I was scanning your posts and trying to decide what your position was relative to Facebook in schools. I am working a group of kids in our schools here locally to try to bridge Facebook and the school system, and we’re coming up with some really interesting capabilities that are getting great feedback from the kids.

    First, we developed a Facebook app, which is no mean feat let me assure you. This app has a home page, a shared calendar, and a groupspace where any group (class, team, club, etc.) can create a workspace — and then pick from a growing app list of apps to apply. This is all coded as a native Facebook application and when fully launched will be available like any other application in Facebook.

    Second, we developed new rules. For instance, our native Facebook app does not work off of “Friends” or “Friending”….we created a more detached relationship — a meet-in-the-middle relationship — where teachers/coaches/leaders/etc. can interwork with students/teammembers/clubmembers/volunteers/etc. without friending each other. We call them “Classmates”. This was deemed critical to the kids and teachers. Neither wanted the other in their personal space. Classmates can form study groups, work on projects together, and do anything, and walk away without being Friends if they want to.

    Third, we love Google and have been linking it to the “mapped” Google applications. So the shared calendar syncs with Google calendar, all uploaded docs are stored in Google Docs, etc. The calendar shows the same layering and such as Google Calendar, but just reflected in Facebook and also linked into Facebook’s notifications and such. So as new homework is assigned, say, in a Google Sites’ calendar, it flows through to be in front of the face of the kid glued to Facebook.

    Fourth, we’re creating vertical topic spaces so that we can better support each group with their own apps. The kids have loved coming up with ideas for this. For classes, for instance, there is a Study Hall….a teacher could be online for an hour the night before a test to answer questions, and the Study Hall can be saved for others to view in archive. Another example: we’re working with the local boy scout troops now to build mini-apps to bridge the previously admin/troopmaster-oriented software out there to “reflect” that content in Facebook. So merit badge tracking and Eagle Scout project support applications for instance. It’s a modular app store approach.

    Finally (I won’t keep going), we’ve opened lines of communications now between school admin and the kids in Facebook. Emergency alerts will span the top of the Facebook page. Guidance owns a widget on the Home Page. There are grade-specific widgets, such as CollegeBoard test dates (and SAT question of the day), that are pertinent to high school kids but not so much for middle school kids. An admin portal controls access to all.

    We’ve got other things going on, I won’t dwell, but the kids have been adamant that they wanted to use Facebook as the core, but be able to DO something in Facebook. Facebook is lousy at groups; Google is great with groups. Under this model, if someone logs into Google, they see everything (APIs permitting) that they would in Facebook. We’ve been working on this for almost two years now, and it’s getting slick I must say. I’ve been advising the kids working on this, and hooked them up with programmers to help actually do this. I’m a real long term Google fan, and think that it’s going to take a bridging app like this to fully move kids hooked on Facebook over to relying more on Google as Google itself figures out Social Networking. It appears to be getting some interest from neighboring schools which is a nice affirmation.

    So this so far is one vote for taking advantage of the Facebook mass. If anyone is interested seeing it, the kids love to show it off!

    1. Hi Danny,

      Thanks for sharing all of this here. My mind is racing…

      I don’t believe that teachers and stuents should be friends on Facebook in a High School setting, but I see that the app you’ve developed allows for your staff and students to interact with each other without “friending” each other.

      One of the complaints that the students I posted about shared was that they were working in too many environments. Your app could very well satisfy their need to reduce their number of online networks. But, what about those staff members that are not interested in creating a Facebook account?

      The syncing between the Google calendar and the Facebook notifications is brilliant! I would love to see and hear more about this and how you brought in parental support of moving towards this type of platform. Also, how your IT department supports this.

      Again, thanks for taking the time to share your plans here!

      Lisa

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