Social Media is the technology platform that has received Â exponential growth in adoption by consumers of all ages. The age barrier to use the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Texting is going down every year, irrespective of the legal age limits proposed by the Social Media Companies in their terms of services agreement. Hence, educational institutions including K-12 schools can play a key role in training, coaching and mentoring their students and teachers in using the Social Media responsibly and safely.
Recently, the Virginia Department of Education has worked on developing a framework or guidelines on the use of Social Media. [Reference: Educational Editorial: Social Media in Schools by Dr. Bill Bosher, Posted March 28,2011 on www.nbc12.com
However, there are some key challenges with the current social media networks, including Facebook, Twitter, etc. Some of these challenges are:1)Â Â Privacy: The privacy concerns are one of the most important ones. In social networks, the profile of students, and teachers becomes public. The profiles are crawled and indexed by search engines. This makes these profile owners an easy target for abuse by unwanted elements of our society. 2)Â Â Content Filtering: The content posted on social networks is not moderated and shows up unfiltered in real time. For social media to be effective and provide value in the educational environment, the contents need to be filtered appropriately. 3)Â Â Unstructured Data: The real-time streams of text in likes of Facebook, Twitter showcase large amounts of text that causes to miss a lot of material of interest.
However, there is a great attempt in building social media platforms that cater to the educational industry. One of them being Schoology and another one is EduBuzz.Net. (http://edubuzz.net). The key features of edubuzz addresses the above concerns as well as provides additional features:
1)Â Â Privacy: The platform is provided in two offerings, both addressing the privacy concerns.
- The SaaS (Software as a Service) offering is for small educational groups, who do not want to maintain infrastructure, and
- The Secure Inside the Firewall download and install offering is for education institution who want their Internal communications to be highly secure, while monitoring the larger social media networks on the Internet.
The internal user id or profiles, do not become available to outside networks, thus providing a good protection to the users.
2)Â Â Content Filtering: The easy to use features for moderating the content that is posted. 3)Â Â Structured Data Streams: The ability to create topic specific groups., The teacher-student specific group provides an easy to read and respond feature to content. This increases productivity and effectiveness of the social media.
Todayâ€™s young generation is not restricted to books. The internet and social media are blasting it with information, contacts and virtual visitors. Hence the need to put controls to makeÂ social media a safe and effective social tool.References:
1.Â Â Â Â http://www.nbc12.com/story/14332776/educational-editorial 2.Â Â Â Â Teaching, Learning, and Sharing: How TodayÂ¹s Higher Education Faculty Use Social Media, April 2011 by Mike Moran, Jeff Seaman, Hester Tinti-Kane, Pearson and Always Learning Report.