Online debate: the pros and cons of social networking in education

Posted January 2008

For the next few days, Economist.com offers an ongoing debate on social networking and the value it adds to the classroom. The debate proposition is: “The house believes that social networking technologies will bring large [positive] changes to educational methods, in and out of the classroom.”

The key debaters are:
CON – Michael Bugeja, Director of Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication, Iowa State University of Science and Technology.
“I have seen it [technology] used as a delivery system, then as content in the classroom and finally as a classroom, building and campus itself, and in every case pedagogy changed to accommodate the interface. Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Unless we impose that logic on social networks, they will align educational methods with corporate motives…”

PRO – Ewan McIntosh, National Adviser on Learning and Technology Futures for Learning and Teaching Scotland, the education agency responsible for curriculum development.
“Social networking has arrived in hundreds of thousands of classrooms and is attempting to show that technology in education is less about anonymous chips and bytes filling up our children with knowledge, less about teachers reinforcing a ‘chalk and talk’ style with an interactive whiteboard, and less about death by PowerPoint bullets. It’s more about helping learners become more world-aware, more communicative, learning from each other and understanding first-hand what makes the world go round.”

The debate schedule:
Tues. Jan. 15 – Opening statements & floor opens to comments from public
Wed. Jan. 16 – Guest Participant, Parry Aftab, WiredSafety.org
Thurs. Jan. 17 – Rebuttals
Mon. Jan. 21 – Guest Participant, Judith Krug, American Library Association
Tues. Jan. 22 – Guest Participant, Ann Flynn, National School Boards Association
Wed. Jan. 23 – Closing statements
Thurs. Jan. 24 – Guest Participant, Nancy Willard, Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use
Fri. Jan. 25 – Debate winner announced

Facebook members can join this group to follow the debate:
“I’m following The Economist Debate Series”
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=21114626408&ref=nf

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2 Responses to Online debate: the pros and cons of social networking in education

  1. I think that Social Networking in the classroom is a positive thing, but it also creates a distraction. For example, if a student is blogging for a Social Studies class about the up-coming election, then it is helpful. But if they decide to go on Facebook while they should be researching, its negative. But i think that the positives beat out the negatives, and that the negatives are just bumps in the road.

  2. paul says:

    I agree, Rachel, and it would be great to hear from teachers who have learned how to manage students’ use of Web 2.0 in the classroom.

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