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Social Networking and Learning Needs

Social Networking and Learning Needs

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Published by: roeslerbarb on Dec 04, 2009
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01/18/2011

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Learning Needs 1Running Head: Learning NeedsSocial Networking and Learning NeedsBarbara Roesler Fall 2009Bemidji State University FasTrack Six
 
Learning Needs 2Social Networking and Learning NeedsFor over two hundred years, the American education system has been educatingadolescents without the aid of information technology platforms such as social networking. Onemay wonder what could possibly be a benefit of including a Ning Social Network in a classroomnow, in this day and age.The entire 8
th
grade and 10
th
grade classes (130 students total) at New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva High School were surveyed. The survey consisted of one sheet with 10questions about each student’s computer and internet usage. 79% of these students indicated thatwithin the past week they had used a computer to do their homework. 69% had accessed theinternet for homework. The students were also asked what sites they most frequently used for either homework or entertainment. Amazingly, 65% of the students indicated Facebook amongthe sites they visited most often.Many students in this particular district already have familiarity with social networking.Using a social network for classroom activities could harness this interest and direct it towardcontent learning. While this information may not necessarily constitute a need for the use of social networking, it may point educators in that district in a direction that the student bodyalready seems to be heading, toward an unrealized opportunity.In consideration of Lev Vygotsky’s views, it is recognized that “cultural tools, includingmaterial tools and psychological tools play very important roles in cognitive development”(Woolfolk, 2008, p. 52). Today cultural tools include computers and the internet and the types of language and symbols used there. Using computers, the internet, and various social networksinvolves symbol systems that many students today may be familiar with from recreational
 
Learning Needs 3experience. One might wonder if using a social network in the classroom could capitalize onthose systems that a student already knows to support the learning process. For instance, Klopfer et al.(2009) suggests that “many students…are using new media and technologies to create newthings in new ways, learn new things in new ways, and communicate in new ways with new people – behaviors that have become hardwired in their ways of thinking and operating in theworld” (p. 2). Kids today have a new and updated set of cultural tools compared to 20 years ago.Adolescent students are still in the process being developed by social and culturalcontexts, according to Bronfenbrenner’s theory (Woolfolk, 2008, p. 91). It may be interesting toinvestigate how interaction on a social network will affect the development of these students.One researcher suggests that “educators can help students realize even more benefits from their social network site use by working to deepen students' still emerging ideas about what it meansto be a good digital citizen and leader online” (University of Minnesota, 2008). The opportunityfor collaboration and networking on social networks may also present students some opportunityto develop social skills (Klopfer et al., 2009, p. 12).However, the proposed social benefits may be just one side of the coin. Adolescence is atime when children are rapidly developing the skills to read social cues of others (Boyd, 2008, p.129). Using digital or technological mediums can make it more difficult to read another  person’s emotions or inflections and chances the possibility of wrongly interpreting what theyare trying to express (Boyd, 2008, p. 129). One may wonder if the diminished time interactingface to face in exchange for interacting online could hinder a child’s development socially.Social networking sites seem to be an entertaining place for students of NRHEG to visit,taking into account what the survey results indicated. Additionally, a social networking site used

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