Social and Cultural Foundations of American Education/Technology/Social Media

What is the role of social media in instruction?

Emerging technologies have changed the shape of today’s classroom. The question that continues arise is “What is the best type of the new technology to use with my students?” The answer to this question is not always a simple one. It depends on availability of resources and also what the teacher is comfortable doing with the classroom. This article will review some of those resources and their positive and negative attributes.

Threaded Discussions in EducationEdit

It is the relationships and interactions among people through which knowledge is primarily generated.

—Rena Palloff and Keith Pratt, Building Learning Communities in Cyberspace

According to a web teaching article by Dartmouth College, online discussions allow students to interact with classmates outside of class. Students have the freedom to log in at any time from any computer that has Internet access. They can use these discussion areas to clarify issues they encounter with their assignments, discuss topics raised in class, or can start a new discussion with their peers. The positive side of using threaded discussions is that it can save time for the teacher when preparing for daily classes, allow shy students to feel free to discuss topics they may not be able to do in front of the class, and also it allows for topics of a sensitive nature to be talked about without being a face to face discussion. The negative side of discussion threads are that it can add to a teacher’s workload if the discussion has too much participation. This can lead to many hours of reading and responding for the teacher. On the other hand, there can be too little discussion if the topic does not catch the student’s interest overall. An online discussion can be facilitated by using chat rooms, discussion boards, and instant messaging programs. Teachers can encourage participation by being more involved, giving credit or extra points in that class, allowing anonymity, restricting access (making discussion board or chat only accessible to the students), encouraging collaboration, and being sure to be realistic about the expectations of the topic and discussion board.

Web 2.0 in EducationEdit

According to the article at Web 2.0, Web 2.0 refers to the improved form of the World Wide Web and new technologies, such as, weblogs, social bookmarking, wikis, podcasts, RSS feeds, social software, and online web services. Some characteristics of Web 2.0 are applications being delivered entirely through a web browser, users owning and exercising control over their own data, an architecture of participation that encourages users to add value to the application as they use it, rich, interactive, user-friendly interface, some social-networking aspects, and enhanced graphical interfaces, such as, gradients and rounded corners (new to Web 2.0).

Social NetworkingEdit

There are many social networking websites available to the public at no cost. They are designed to allow people to network online much as they would in person. The sites have a registration process which asks many questions which will allow their profiles to be matched by queries of other users. These websites include blogs, groups, photos, music and videos. Some examples of social networking websites are MySpace, Facebook, BlackPlanet, Bandwagon, and Friendster, Classmates.com, Flirtomatic, Livejournal, Myyearbook, Passado, and Stumbleupon. MySpace is the third most popular website used in the United States and has 54 million profiles currently. These websites have gotten a lot of attention, especially in the education setting. There are positive aspects to these websites, which include, being able to easily setup a class page which can include blogs, videos, photos, and other features. This page can easily be accessed by providing just one web address, which makes it easy to remember and easy to type in for students who may have trouble using the keyboard or with spelling. It can be customized to make it easy to read and also with as much or little color as desired. You can also change the font and put audio with it to make it accessible to students with visual disabilities. There are also many potential negative aspects of social networking to be heavily considered. Because of the nature of the sites and the age of it’s users, there is the potential for sexual predators to surf the personal websites of the students. According to the Howstuffworks website, there has been at least seven non-violent sexual assaults on minors that have been linked to the MySpace website, and also at least one murder has been linked to a MySpace website. There is a rule that you must be at least 14 years old to register for a MySpace webpage, but this is often lied about by both people who want to appear older and also those predators that want to appear younger than 18 years old. Due to these issues, students will need to be advised on the safety issues regarding these websites. They should be informed of ways to stay safe, such as, not giving out personally identifiable information, not meeting in person other MySpace users, unless you know them in person, employing safe surfing techniques that would be used in any blog or chat room type website, and immediately reporting any suspicious communication via a social networking website to someone that the student trusts, such as, a teacher, counselor or parent.

Multiple Choice QuestionsEdit

Click to reveal the answer.

Which of the following types of applications can be found on a social networking website?
A. Blogging
B. Videos
C. Music
D. Photos
E. All of the above

E. All of the above

MySpace is which of the following?
A. 6th most popular website in United States.
B. 1st most popular website in United States.
C. 5th most popular website in United States.
D. 3rd most popular website in United States.

D. 3rd most popular website in United States.

Which of the following are examples of Web 2.0 applications?
A. Weblogs
B. Social networking
C. Wikis
D. None of the above
E. All of the above

E. All of the above

Which of the following is not recommended to users of online profiles (such as Facebook and Myspace)?
A. Use of colors on their personal page.
B. Use of different forms of expression such as blogs, music, and comments.
C. Exchange of personal information.
D. Exchange of ideas and conversation via private messages.

C. Exchange of personal information.

Essay QuestionEdit

Click to reveal sample responses.

How do you keep students safe while on social networking sites?

There are many social networking sites on the Web. Some websites have safety features built in to try and safeguard minor children, but many do not. An example of a website that does make an attempt is MySpace who has special filtering built in to try to keep people as honest as possible. They asked questions in the registration process to try to “catch” both those too young and adults lying about their actual age from accessing WebPages on their site. No system is perfect, so it is important for caretakers and educators to teach our children important safety rules when online. These include, not meeting anyone that the student does not know in person. Also, they should not give out personally identifiable information to someone they do not know,and should report any suspicious activity on their websites to an adult they can trust. Suspicious can include messages, photos, videos, etc. that make the student uncomfortable. The students should also be cautioned on sharing their own photos, videos, or any media that shows who they are or how they may be located, such as, a road sign or store sign in the background. They also should not be posting photos that have other minors in the picture, especially, without their knowledge and consent. This can put them at risk, also.


Websites created for students are not just accessed by students but predators that can unfortunately be schoolteachers or older students. The number one thing that I would advise my students to do is not to give out their personal information or post photos of themselves on websites that they just found. Computers should also have updated filters to block out websites that are not safe. Another thing that could be useful for students that are using the computers in their school is for teachers to make a student webpage or a folder and save it on the desktop. The student will access their folder or website by putting in their password. The webpage or folder will contain the links to websites tested by school administration. As a teacher, I would also send home information about keeping their children safe while they use their computer at home. Having a time limit set for students may cut down on surfing the internet and becoming exposed to sites that are not safe. Socialize networking can be fun and at times informative however, it also needs to be chaperoned by teachers and parents. —A. Lancaster

ReferencesEdit

Last modified on 3 March 2010, at 17:14