Friday, March 14, 2008

Free Technology For Teachers: The Case for Cell Phones and Social Networking

One of the blogs I read quite regularly is Weblogg-ed written by Will Richardson. Yesterday, Mr. Richardson wrote about his experience speaking to students and educators in New York City. The part of blog post that piqued my interest was Mr. Richardson's conversations with students about cell phones and Myspace. As is to be expected, all of the students advocated for being able to use cell phones and Myspace at school. Richardson used the students' comments as an opening to demonstrate a use for cell phones as research tools as he text messaged a search to Google and got a response in ten seconds.

Richardson also talked to students about how they use Myspace. A surprising number of the students use Myspace to communicate about assignments and projects. Many of my students use AIM and other instant messaging programs to communicate about homework assignments. This is not necessarily a justification for letting kids use Myspace at school, but it does reflect a new shift in communication. Students and some adults are using traditional email less and communicating either through instant messaging or a messaging system built into a social network like Myspace or Facebook. At the FOWA conference last month, this topic was discussed at length by industry leaders.

Are there meaningful ways of incorporating social networking applications into the classroom? Yes, there are. Twitter and Pownce are messaging systems and social networks that teachers have started to use with students. There are many discussions of this in the educational blog-o-sphere. Edublogs recently released a new feature for teachers to create student blogs that teachers can administer and monitor.

Read all of Will Richardson's blog post here.

Here is a video of Richardson speaking in New York City.