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Social networking in school November 28, 2007

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Online communities, School, Social Networking.

Last week I attended a seminar in e-Learning Lab within the Network on ICT and Learning. The topic of the seminar was “Communities of Learning” and international guest Caroline Haythornthwaite presented her interesting thoughts on how to develop and maintain online learning communities. After that some of the members of the network presented their experiences with creating online (e-learning) communities.

One of the practians presenting a case was Tommy Møllegaard Siim from EUC Nordvest (a Danish vocational education centre) who had been engaged in creating a community (or, as I would call it, a social networking site) for the HG students called HG Space. Here, the students can create profiles, chat, blog and upload videos – and the school can post information about school activities, changes in timetables and so on. Also, there is a “wall” displaying cool profiles – very similar to other popular social networking sites.

It is really interesting to see how this school has embraced the concept of social networking – an idea I have been urging many schools to take up during my lectures the last couple of years. And so far, it seems that it has been a real success for ECU Nordvest – at least according to Tommy Møllegaaard Siim and the activity on the site.

Instead of being afraid of online social networking I think that schools should do something similar to this – and turn social networking into something positive which is connected to the school and school activities.

At the moment there is a debate going on in Denmark about the fact that Arto has created a domain called ingencensur.dk which allows students to access Arto even though the site is blocked at their school. This has caused many schools to criticise and rage against Arto.

However, in stead of worrying about their students using social networking sites I think that the schools should embrace social networking or even create their own site, like EUC Nordvest has done. Young people (and the rest of us, hence the popularity of Facebook) have an urge to connect with one another online – so why not within a school setting?