Kids love social networking, but many teachers are leery of the risks of introducing the controversial technology into the classroom. Is it possible, they wonder, to engage students with the social networking tools they love, while keeping them safe from online dangers? Absolutely, says Facebook chief security officer Joe Sullivan. Social networking can be both educational and safe -- if you follow these rules:
Create a Friend List: If you're a teacher, you can create a Friend List called Students" and adjust your privacy settings to control exactly what your students will see. For example, you might allow students to see your basic profile information, but not your tagged photos or wall posts.
Use Facebook Groups for Engagement: You can create a Facebook Group for a course youre teaching or a specific class project, and invite all your students to join the group. That will provide a way for students and educators to discuss relevant topics on a platform students love. There also is a Discussion Board where students can share their thoughts.
Share Rich Content: Use the Wall on your Facebook Group page to share rich content, such as news clips, interesting articles, websites, videos, and so on. Invite students to do the same.
Discuss Online Safety: Teach students about appropriate online behavior, including keeping passwords private, never talking to strangers online, and treating others respectfully. Tell them to visit Facebook Safety Center for best safety practices.
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Check Your Schools Social Networking Policy: As an educator, you should make sure youre in compliance with your schools policies before opening a Facebook account. Additionally, its always a good idea to notify parents and receive their permission before asking students to join Facebook. Explain to parents exactly how the tool will be used in the classroom -- and make sure all students are older than13.
Student Feedback: Ask students -- the digital natives -- if they have any creative ideas about ways in which Facebook can enrich their learning experience, both in the classroom and beyond.
Be a safe harbor: Make sure students know they can come to you with questions or concerns, or to discuss what to do in tricky situations they encounter online.
Teachers also can leverage free technologies to engage with students on a platform they enjoy, and can use those tools to share presentations, notes, practice tests, and quizzes. Facebook has more that 200 education-related applications. Some examples include:
Article by Joe Sullivan
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