Facebook Privacy
July 8, 2011

Teachers are rightfully hesitant to use social media tools in the classroom, especially given the risk of inappropriate content.  However, social networking sites have made their mark and they are not going anywhere any time soon.  Facebook is at the top of social media; it is currently the second most popular site on the Internet right behind Google.  As with all social media, young people are a main demographic and it would be a smart decision to help educate young people using the tools they feel most comfortable with.

Facebook has privacy controls that enable users to manage what anyone can or cannot see. Teachers should build a separate teacher page for their “teacher” presence.  This is to protect students from their personal lives- most students do not need or want to know the dating status of their teacher. Another great tool is for teachers to build group pages on Facebook. They are able to post pictures and videos from class field trips as well as start discussion boards for students to participate. Identity and belonging are important parts of learning.  Therefore, teachers should encourage students to ask any questions they may have about homework or the daily lecture.

However, to ensure privacy, teachers should make sure groups are closed groups so students have to request to join.  The Facebook group should also be linked to any other social media site that is used by the school.

The social networking site provides many benefits as a learning tool.  It provides an inviting atmosphere since Facebook is not any more the teacher’s site than it is the students’. It also enhances engagement; when students are accessing class content more often, it increases the amount they think about it and will be more likely to participate in discussions.

Privacy is a very important concept today, and it is important to make sure that all students feel comfortable and secure using Facebook.

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Students’ Writing Assignments “Dumber”?
June 20, 2011

Social media makes our messages condensed. Twitter allows up to 140 characters; Facebook allows up to 420 characters.  Many would think this would create clearer messages.  Wrong.  Welcome to the world of grammatical, usage, and spelling errors.  Slang terms such as BTW (by the way) have suddenly become incorporated into student assignments- a major concern for teachers.

According to a recent Pew Internet & American Life survey, 85% of respondents use some form of electronic communication.  While much of the younger generation has become accustomed to the social media slang, the teachers cannot understand what the students are writing.  Teachers understand that text messaging is a large part of young people’s lives; however, this should not excuse the formal writing students are assigned. Many teachers believe there has been a decline in students’ writing abilities due to new media.

Even though teens are heavily embedded in the digital age, most do not believe that communication over the Internet or text messaging is writing.  Teens generally do not believe that social media negatively affects their writing.  However, many do acknowledge that some of the slang does occasionally slip into their assignments for school.  In particular, teen bloggers and social network users have a tendency to use shortcuts and emoticons in their school writing assignments.

Parents have a different view about the effect of social media on students’ writing.  They believe that computers have a positive influence on writing and even make some students better writers.  Reasons a computer makes a positive influence include revising and editing easily, presenting ideas clearly, and the opportunity for creativity. Other parents do not believe that social media has any effect on writing.

Some feel that this is simply an evolution of language while others feel that the social media “is dumbing down” the English language.  The future is unclear as more generations of students grow up in the age of social media.

Have you ever used a shortcut like LOL (laughing out loud) or an emoticon in a school assignment?