Social networking has become popular for people of all ages. Children, teens, young adults, middle aged adults, and even grandparents have all headed for the computer in an effort to connect and reconnect with the people they know. It is no surprise, then, that teachers are beginning to view social networking sites as a great way to stay in touch with students, parents, and other teachers.
Of course, it is important for special education teachers, or any teacher for that matter, to remember that student privacy must not be infringed upon. This means no student or parent names should be used; however, this does not overly limit the usefulness of social networking for a special education teacher.
Blogs are a great way to make sure students, parents, and other teachers know what is going on. A blog is probably the best way to begin using other social networking sites, as it allows for the dissemination of more information. Assignments can be posted daily. If the special education teacher has the specific instructions for a class project, she can type them into the blog so the parents and students can access it at any time. Special activities, test dates, and general information can also be posted. Once the blog is in place, it is time to begin using the social networking sites to get exposure to the greatest number of people.
Facebook and MySpace
While there are numerous other sites like Facebook and MySpace, these two are the most popular with the target audience, students and parents. Short bites of information can be put onto these sites and will automatically be delivered to your contact’s feed. This means they will see updates as you post them instead of having to check the blog or Web page for updates. If the short bits of information are not enough, teachers can simply put the title of the blog post and link in their status for their fans or friends to read.
Twitter is becoming more and more popular. Several applications will automatically update a Twitter account with blog posts, and then Twitter can also be set up to automatically post to a Facebook status as well. The number of characters for this is extremely limited, so a short title and link are best.
Using technology, especially the new social networking sites, is a great way to help students stay engaged in their education. It is a medium that most students enjoy and are already using to communicate with their friends and family. It allows parents to see what is going on each day and to help keep their children on track. It also allows for a greater opportunity for students and parents to connect with teachers and make sure they understand the tasks they have been assigned.
How do you use technology and social networking in your classroom?