I just finished reading an article on using social media in the classroom. It named a lot of great applications to use in the classroom such as Weebly, Edmodo, and Moodle. I applaud efforts to incorporate technology and social media in the classroom. I think that we need to be teaching children how to use social medias and how to communicate appropriately. Within that we have to help students develop empathy so that they can engage appropriately online.
Of those 3 sites mentioned Weebly is the one that I see as an authentic vehicle of social media. Students can create a blog and/or website via Weebly. Even though teachers can create and manage student accounts, once published their site can be visible to anyone on the web. Thus allowing anyone to comment on their blogs, not just their teacher or classmates.
Edmodo and Moodle are good applications to use as well and I understand why some educators would prefer to use those over Facebook or Twitter. They provide a safe monitored environment for children to interact online. I suppose it is possible to teach our students how to appropriately interact online with Edmodo and Moodle. I do worry about whether the audience is authentic enough for any age student.
Twitter and Facebook provide opportunities for students to interact with a variety of people online. I understand that it opens up potential for a lot to go awry, such as cyber bullying. BUT...would they be able to connect with scientists or authors in real time on Edmodo or Moodle? No. Can they be taught how to navigate their way through 'friending' and 'following' on those educational sites? No, and both are important because they are going to engage in sites like Twitter, Facebook, Springform, and more outside of school. There are ways for teachers to use authentic social media in the classroom and monitor their students' use.
We have to begin to question if we are doing more harm than good when we are utilizing educational social media sites instead of the real thing. All have their positives and drawbacks, and ultimately we have to do what we are most comfortable with. I wonder though, can they learn on educational sites what is required for real life?