SocialearningIsInternet-based social networking platforms are proving to be quite useful to a wide variety of people. All sectors of society are benefiting from the use of social networks including teenagers, adults, businesses and professionals. Three social networking platforms that I am aware of are LinkedIn, Facebook and Ning. I just recently learned of Ning, I’ve had both LinkedIn and Facebook accounts for approximately five years.  Facebook seems to be the social networking platform of choice for the teenagers that I, know, including my nephews, nieces and students.

Although I cannot measure the impact social networks have had on my students it is clear to me that a number of students use a social networking platform. I often hear my students’ making reference to Facebook and I can think of a few instances of Facebook being the topic of conversation amongst my students and the school community. In one instance, the students went on a weekend trip to Washington D.C. and students posted their pictures on Facebook. Another time, I overheard students talking about an upcoming party, a Facebook post was created containing the location of the party, what to expect and what to bring to the party. Lastly, a more serious incident occurred, when one student saw the post of another stated he was going to take a weapon to school to hurt a few students. The student that posted the threatening message was expelled from school. Unfortunately, I have never heard students explain how they have used Facebook as a tool for learning. I believe, for most students, Facebook provides a platform for sharing non-educational material. One student expressed to me, that it was unfair for teachers to read their Facebook pages and confront them about topics they felt were inappropriate. Facebook has changed the lives of many students because they can communicate with others as long as they have access to a computer. Unlike a cellular phone service, is free and their parents need not know they have an account.  Educators can create a Facebook like environment geared towards learning using Ning. 21stLearning

Ning is an Internet social networking platform that can be used for teaching and learning. The word ning means peaceful. Like Facebook, users are expected to interact with each other. When first introduced by the creator of Netscape, Ning was a free service, it is no longer a free. Miniature Facebook like environments are created using Ning. Unlike most blogs and wikis Ning supports privacy options and the users must be approved by the moderators of the website one example of a Ning based social media website for teens is Teens For Planet Earth.  On the social media website Classroom 2.0 school building leaders and teachers can find lectures, podcasts, and vodcasts relevant to their professional development.

The name “LinkedIn” provides the tone and purpose of the Web-site. LinkedIn is a social media website for adults. Adults use this website to form connections with other adults on a professional or work-related basis. LinkedIn has allowed me to keep in touch with former co-workers some of whom I have known for over fifteen years. By way of LinkedIn, I have been provided with recommendations from this same pool of former co-workers.  I have used LinkedIn to join collegial groups and to recommend others for employment.  This networking website also allows me to upload videos, post articles and connect individuals in my network with each other.

LinkedIn, Ning and Facebook are all great tools for collaboration and interaction. I will continue to use LinkedIn and Ning for professional purposes and I will build a social network on Ning for one of my classes. The skills needed to maneuver Facebook are transferable to Ning. Students will have no problem working on a Ning based social networking site. It is important for teenagers to work on a social media networks created for learning.  All learning is social and requires collaboration and interaction. Online social media has proven to be beneficial for educators, teenagers and other sectors of the society.