But many educators who see the value in social networking face significant obstacles to incorporating it into their school days.
Both Twitter and Facebook are blocked by many school computer networks. Even Sheninger, who has had great success with his school’s official Facebook page, says the site still isn’t accessible from inside the school’s walls.
“One thing I ran into a lot in the U.S. was filtering or blocking,” says Terrell. To use some social-neworking sites or tools, “I had to get the technology director and let him know specifically what I was using it for, and it was a long process getting sites unblocked.”
I just completed a week-long history institute at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. The folks that attended my sessions were great. They asked challenging questions and were engaged all week. During the week, I conducted a number of topical sessions related to the teaching of history. Thursday, we spent time discussing the impact of technology and its use in teaching history; we discussed a number of pros and cons about the Internet in the classroom. One such concern is that of “play time.” This is a matter that both high school and college instructors face daily when permitting students to use lap tops in class. One teacher stated during my institute that lap tops in the classroom are a decade old concept. Moreover, they do not offer the type of classroom engagement we as educators would like to think.
However, the use of interactive sites and smart boards are currently the best methods and means of using technology. The challenge of course is that of cost and the short-term purpose it tends to offer. I use YouTube religiously in class. It provides a great avenue to show clips that might help students see a concept. As of late, I have come to feel like an expert (I am not) on social networking in education; I served on a recent panel that addressed its purpose and how it might be effective in promoting discourse among students and colleagues; we also addressed the matter of academic freedom and how such social networks are contested by schools. Professor Jeff Baker, a colleague and friend of mine shared this article with me on social-networking sites here. The article addressed the big challenge faced by educators as noted here: