8 Social Networking Sites for Education

8 Social Networking Sites for Education

Social networking and education might sound like a very improbable combination. After all, the negative impact of social networking on the academic performance of students has been well documented. However, in spite of the negative effects, social media is here to stay and youngsters continue to spend an inordinate amount of time on social networking platforms. Indeed, a research conducted by Ipsos Open Thinking Exchange (OTX) in 2013 revealed that people under the age of 35 spend an alarming 4.2 hours a day social networking. Does this mean education has to suffer as a result?

Not necessarily. Used creatively, social networking can be a very powerful tool, which can engage learners and transform the entire learning experience. While there are a number of specialized social networking websites for education, some of the generic platforms can also be effectively utilized to aid in learning and teaching. In this article, I will highlight 8 of these platforms.

1.  Twiducate

Twiducate is an oxymoron of sorts. It allows teachers to create private social networks for their students. Twiducate uses the analogy of a 'walled garden' in which children can socialize with each other but be safe at the same time, to explain their concept. Primarily aimed at elementary and secondary school students, it allows teachers to create closed and secure class communities for their students and induce collaboration among them. Homework, deadlines and assignments can be posted on this site and thoughts and ideas can be shared. It makes social networking fun and educational.

2.  Edmodo

Edmodo enables students and teachers to share resources among one another and interact in a secure environment. Founders Nick Borg, Jeff O' Hara and Crystal Hutter have been instrumental in making Edmodo the giant it is today in K-12 social learning. Students and teachers on Edmodo can upload any study material, reply to posts, send messages, check upcoming messages, and much more. It makes room for blended learning with the flipped model being one of them.

3.  Blackboard

This is an exceptional student-centered learning management system. It allows creating and sharing content, posting real-time feedback, enabling discussions in a collaborative space and so on. With its constantly evolving platform, Blackboard is one of the best social networking sites for education. Blackboard is a comprehensive site bringing efficiency and life to education.

4.  Skype

Skype might not seem like a social networking platform but in reality it encompasses many features of social media. It is an extremely powerful tool, which, if properly harnessed, can transform the learning experience. Some of the ways that Skype can be utilized for education are holding video calls with teachers for online education, conducting parent-teacher conference or interviews, sharing files, watching lectures, benefiting from collaborative learning, holding a debate, learning foreign languages and many more.

5.  Google+

Google+ not only helps teachers to conduct virtual classes but is also a good learning platform as it is integrated with YouTube, Gmail and Google Calendar. This allows teachers to record videos and share them with their students, mail the necessary documents of homework or other assignments, receive and send notifications of various updates and so on. In short, Google+ has all the features to make learning fun and interactive.

6.  English Companion

This social networking site is for English teachers where they can ask questions and get help from other teachers. This online community is a valuable resource for teachers to share knowledge and information among each other.

7.  Wikispaces Classroom

Wikispaces classroom is a social networking site for students and teachers. They can communicate and work on projects - together in teams or alone. Assessment tools are also provided in this site to evaluate students' concepts in real time. Students can collaborate and discuss projects. Wikispaces Classroom is free to use.

8.  Twitter

Twitter can be used quite effectively in the classroom. A group tweet account enables students to collaborate and control who joins. News feeds, connecting with a community, tracking an educational hash tag are some of the activities that could be done using Twitter.

Social networking sites fulfill a very basic human need of interacting with fellow human beings who have shared interests. Far from being a waste of time, as it is commonly perceived by parents and teachers, social networking can make the learning experience fun, engaging, collaborative and ultimately, more effective.

Have you used social networking for educational purposes? Share your experience in the comments.

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