Social Networking Pilots

I am piloting two sites for our district that deal with social networking.  One we are trying our is called MyVRSpot, it is a fee service from the people that bring us Gaggle email.  The other is the Keystone Commons, which is brought to us by the PAIUnet, it is a free site if you are a PAIU district.

I set my Tenth Graders up with both accounts and turned them loose, I figured that since they may be using the sites in classes, let them decide which they prefer and why.  They can run through the secure sites and do more with them than I can. I want to get their opinions on the sites, I already have an idea as to my opinion, but want to compare views.

As I was rolling out the directions last week, a student raised his hand and asked what I thought was a very good question. He asked, “Why are we doing this?”  I asked for clarification, and he rephrased, “What is the purpose of doing all this?” Which, to me, showed he was not trying to be troublesome, he truly was curious.

I followed up with the question, “How many of you have Facebook accounts?” to which almost all students raised their hands.  When asked about Twitter, most had heard about it, but only a handful responded that they had accounts.  All know YouTube, and once again, only a small number said they posted there.  I then asked them to think about the next question, but do not respond openly, “How many of you would be embarrassed by what you or a friend has posted about you on one of these sites?”  Students looked about quizzically, and I continued with the comment that most students have these accounts, but do not know exactly what they are doing.  We want to show them how to use the sites appropriately and safely so they do not get into trouble later in life.

We discussed briefly a few stories of people, the focus was on adults, getting in trouble because of their public postings on these sites.  They seemed to “get it” and were willing to work with the sites.  I am giving them points for their effort, in exchange I am hoping they run with the sites and provide some good feedback as to strengths and weaknesses of each.

The students seemed interested in the pilot project, regardless of the points.  They asked questions and once in the sites started checking out what they could do.  Many already use these tools, now they can see how to use them appropriately.  For the students who have not tried blogging or micro-blogging, now is there opportunity to gain experience in a safe setting.  Hopefully, the experience will transfer out into the real-world and continue long after they are out of High School.

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