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June 5, 2011 / Rabbi Meir Wexler

Social Networking

When first hearing of it some people have difficulty appreciating how social networking platforms can be used in more ways than posting you just ‘brushed your teeth with new whitener’ or ‘ going to DSW to get some new uggs’. For business people social networking are powerful marketing and connecting vehicles. In the education world social networking can be summed up in two-words: Think-Tank.

For educators social networking is like being inside a giant global think-tank. You have educators you can learn from and share with and always leave conversations or reading posts with ideas bouncing around in your mind.  The ability to connect with other professional educators (and yes it does take time to sift through the ‘personalities’ one comes across while building a viable, solid personal learning network) in the same or similar field leaves you with a very empowering feeling. Social networking platforms let educators share and exchange a wellspring of knowledge be it through videos or links to other websites or online materials. I will come across a new tool or idea or website someone suggests and if it is something that fits my needs I will save, mail or bookmark it for later. Educators should consider sites such as http://edupln.ning.com/http://www.classroom20.com/ and http://yu20.org/ to get started in social networking.

For students social networking plays a major role in their lives outside of school. Incorporating social network platforms such as Edmodo in the classroom can positively affect how students think relate and interact with each other in platform with which they are already accustomed. Platforms like Edmodo have strict privacy and filter settings to help ensure the safety and security for the students and school. When taught properly, students also learn digital citizenship and proper etiquette which will hopefully impact their decision-making on social networks outside the classroom as well. Students enjoy the feeling of connectedness and having their voice heard by their peers through their writing or video posts. With the future of education going digital (Florida Dept. of Education will be mandating its’ public schools go completely digital in the classroom, textbooks and all, by 2015) using social networking platforms in the classroom may seem bold right now but will eventually be the norm for schools.

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