Shout out for social networks in education

As some of you know I’m currently working on a project for Childnet International that looks at young people’s use of technology, specifically social network services (SNS).  One of the strands of this work is designed to help educators and carers in making informed decisions about using social network sites. The work will provide an introduction to what are new kinds of sites and practices for many people, outline potential risks and things to keep a look out for, and provide strategies to address these.

The project aims to

•    Look at how children and young people can use the internet safely to change the world for the better;
•    Recognise the huge positive potential young people have and the vital role they have to play in shaping the world; and
•    Celebrates the unprecedented opportunities that web 2.0 affords children and young people – to develop a voice, to collaborate, to organise, to debate, to create, to share, to learn, to develop essential skills, and above all – to participate. 

I’m putting a call out for help with two specific sections of the work:

1.    Examples of SNS currently being used to support education both
big and small projects – from setting up your own social network
platform to examples of students using flicker to organise a

2.    Ideas for using SNS to support education – perhaps your school
blocks a lot of social network sites but you have some great ideas for
how you would like to see students making the most out of these kinds
of sites.

You can send your gems over to
Please get them to me before the end of August!

Questions (please do add any others to the comments!)

What do you mean by social networking services Josie?

Part of the work of the project will be in addressing the thorny issue of definition. There’s a reasonable indicative list of social network sites over at wikipedia

As well as services like MySpace and Bebo, my definition would include all of those other services that support users to create content (including commentary and criticism) within a networked environment.  & Yes, I am counting virtual worlds and multi-user gaming sites. I’d also throw in social book marking services (like, microblogging services (like Twitter and Jaiku), and of course I’m interested in multimedia sites like Flickr, YouTube and other services that utilise mobile phone functionality.

I’m not focusing on freestanding blogs or wikis – not because these aren’t important, or don’t allow people to create networks – but because of the scope of this project and also because I already run the Edublog awards which does a lot to recognise stuff going on using those tools. So if you have a great example of practice, why not enter this years awards?

What age range are you looking at?

I’m focusing on UK school aged children, that is, 11 – 16 year olds. However, if you’ve got a great example of practice with older or younger learners – please do send it in!

Are you only interested in UK based examples?

The work is primarily addressing UK education issues, but I’m happy to take examples and ideas from anywhere!

What will you do with my fantastic contribution?

Some of the entries will be featured on the website. I’ll release all of the ideas and examples as a separate CC licensed download to benefit all of us. I’ll be giving link credit to every contributor who wants it – so please remember to include your name and the site you’d like to link to.

I don’t have any ideas or examples 🙁 What can I do to help?

Let people know about this call! Pass on the word! Huge thanks!

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