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Videos could easily be used within the school but also outside of school as a form of research. The advantages of using social media within schools seem to all point in the right direction; many young people today are immersed within social media and the Internet. Social media is a great advantage especially to those who may to be timid to participate in the class room environment, with a monitored regulation the advantages are never endless and illustrate a new way of learning within schools. At New Milford High School in New Jersey, the school’s official Facebook page keeps its 1,100 fans updated on sports events and academic achievements.
Just a few years ago, social networking meant little more to educators than the headache of determining whether to penalize students for inappropriate activities captured on Facebook or MySpace. Though teachers and students are now pushing learning beyond the borders of the classroom through social networking, that move also comes with hurdles, including the fact that many schools still block access to such sites within their walls. In some schools, social networking has changed the way educators teach and students learn, says Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano, the 21st-century-learning specialist at the private, K-8 Martin J. Social networking can mean using ready-made platforms like Ning or Facebook, but it can also be about networks that schools create specifically for their students. Social networking among students has become one of Project K-Nect’s most popular features, he says. At New Milford High School, it was the idea of keeping in touch with parents that first prompted Principal Sheninger to look into Twitter during the last school year. Social networking is allowing teachers, who often feel isolated in their classrooms, to revolutionize the way they connect with others, says Whitby, a former English teacher who is now an adjunct professor of education for secondary English at St. In fact, Ning, a social-networking platform, is full of sites dedicated to different specialties—everything from geography to teaching English as a second language or first-year teachers.

Teacher Shelly Terrell, who writes the blog Teacher Reboot Camp, says she’s found value in different types of social-networking sites when it comes to professional development. But many educators who see the value in social networking face significant obstacles to incorporating it into their school days. In addition, some district officials remain skeptical that such social-networking tools really benefit education, worried that they just open the door to Internet-security problems and the possibility of cyberbullying. But it remains unclear what all of that means for social-networking tools and sites being used for purely educational purposes.
In fact, most social-networking sites like Facebook and Ning require users to be at least 13 to participate.
But Terrell says fears about how to proceed with social-networking sites and tools should not prevent educators from using them. If the school were to set up a YouTube account students could access the account and interact with any content that has been posted for them. Sheninger, the micro-blogging tool Twitter has become his mainstay for professional development as well as school promotion. School officials must also confront the uncertainties and questions surrounding privacy issues, proper management, and cyber security when they open their doors to social-networking sites.
The goal was to introduce her school’s students to peers in countries around the globe.
Project K-Nect, a grant-funded program that uses smartphones as teaching tools in a handful of North Carolina school districts, allows students to instant-message their peers and teachers with questions on math homework at any time of the day or night. Education officials should also consider other federal laws like the Children’s Internet Protection Act, or CIPA, which requires schools to provide Internet filtering to prevent access by students to offensive content over the Internet, and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or FERPA, which protects the privacy of student information.

That’s why private wikis or blogs or other social-networking tools designed for school use can often be more beneficial in such situations, says Terrell, the teacher and blogger. Social media could be used to help improve this valuable aspect; by allowing each teacher to have their own teaching Twitter account so if needed they were easily accessible to students. Other students have used the video voice service Skype to talk to their peers in states like Iowa for school projects. Through Twitter contacts, he formed a partnership with a company that donated technology equipment and training to the school, and he linked up with CBS News, which brought national exposure to the high school’s programs. She built a social-networking site using Ning for teachers from all countries who wanted to participate, eventually attracting 300 members. Students can also post questions and answers to school math blogs, where a student struggling with algebra could find several classmates willing to walk him or her through a problem or even post video of the best way to solve it.
Members of New Milford’s student government suggested Sheninger create a Facebook page for the high school instead. It will allow students to see that teachers have a life outside school and don’t just sleep in the stationary cupboard!

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