The Digital Diet: Social Networking

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Chapter 10 of The Digital Diet discusses social networking—communicating with friends, family, and strangers online. Most of today’s social networking occurs through Facebook. Facebook allows users to join networks that are organized by school, city, or region. People on Facebook can share their thoughts and photos. Facebook allows users to write and comment on their friends’ walls to stay in touch. This chapter states that in 2009 there were 250 million active Facebook users. Over the past three years, that number has more than tripled. Now, it is estimated that over one billion people are using Facebook to connect (http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/resource-how-many-people-use-the-top-social-media/). The world has a current population of about seven billion. That means that one seventh of the world has a Facebook account. That is insane! I do not think Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of Facebook, could have ever estimated the rapid growth of his own website. I do not think the use of Facebook will ever slow down. Instead, I think the use of Facebook will continue to grow and spread.

I have had my own Facebook account since 2005, and have used it to communicate with friends. I have never used it for school, but I have heard about teachers using Facebook to set up a ‘class page.’ I have been told that a teacher will post announcements, messages, and homework on their Facebook class page. These pages can even be used as a discussion thread for students in the class. Although I have never used Facebook for school before, I have always been a little cautious of whether this could be a good or a bad thing. If any small line is crossed, things could turn out horribly. However, if teachers take the correct precautionary measures with their own Facebook and their class page, Facebook could be beneficial. Teachers could bring classroom learning to an online platform, which would be interesting and relevant to students. Teachers could share videos and photos to enhance student learning. What is even more interesting is that Facebook already contains apps for classroom uses. These apps allow teachers to create courses, give students homework help, create flash cards, and provide easy searches for doing research. It really seems as if the possibilities are endless.

Although Facebook could be great in the classroom, I still do not feel completely comfortable using it as a learning device. I question whether using Facebook for class could accidentally expose students to another world that is not conducive to classroom learning. Before using Facebook in my own classroom, I would probably try Edmodo first. Edmodo is an online social network that is set up similarly to online college classes. This website allows students to connect with classmates, teachers, and parents. Teachers can post assignments, tests, and alerts to their class page. Edmodo is the educational form of Facebook. I am so grateful that Cindy required my classmates and I to create our own Edmodo account. I definitely will use it in my classroom, as long as my students are old enough to understand and use computers. Although I am still wary about using Facebook in the classroom, I believe it could work and encourage student learning. I will have to do my own investigating in the near future to determine whether Facebook will work with my own students.

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