One of the fastest growing "thing to do" in the world today is joining a Social network. Every corner you turn, a social media website is mentioned.
Sometimes its about "liking" a frozen yogurt store you visit (Facebook). Or snapping a picture to show your friends (Instagram) Other times its just to "follow" your favorite movie star (Twitter). But everyone agrees that the trend is here to stay.
So the question is twofold: Can I use it to my benefit (i.e. as an educator) and how?
I've already touched on the questions on my post about Twitter where I mentioned the great benefits it has both for the classroom as well as for professional development. And I believe the answer is a resounding "YES!"
Think about it. As human beings we are social creatures. We want to hear and listen from others. Time and time again research has shown that students learn better in collaborative settings. But this is not always feasible within the classroom walls. Social networks eliminate that barrier and allow us to connect with each other in an easy and efficient way.
It is always great to see, when I have a questions about a topic that I need help in, that I can just send out a tweet and watch the answers pour in. There are so many amazing CoP's (communities of practice) that enables one to connect and share ideas and problems with educators from all types of backgrounds.
Some of my favorite include:
And for students, its no different. They love immediate feedback which is what they get on any of these websites. I have tinkered with a Facebook-type called Edmodo. It seems to have all the benefits a social network offers (i.e. comments page, immediate feedback etc.) and not the drawbacks (i.e. personal information in public forum).