Social Networking for English Teachers

Teach English Social Network By now, every student in my 310 and 311 classes should have received an invitation to join the Teach English social network hosted by NING. If not, email me and I’ll remedy this right away.

In case you think that this is just ANOTHER technology project (along with wikis, blogs, and podcasts), you should relax: for now, just sign up, play around with your profile, and try to meet some new people from Western Michigan, Central Michigan, and the Michigan English teaching community. As we move toward the end of the semester, we’ll use this network to share ideas and post resources on our pedagogy projects.

Why a social network? Good question. Here are a few answers. About two-thirds of you already have profiles on Facebook. I found a few groups for English teachers–including a hilarious student-run group called MY English Teacher finds more deeper meaning in a book then the author–but I thought this would be a unique opportunity to connect with other teachers and students in our area. I also think it is important to earn how social networking can be used as a tool for professional development, so you could set up your profile as if potential employers and colleagues might be looking at it. And finally, here are a few facts to think about from an excellent report on social networking recently published by the National School Boards Association:

  • About 71 percent of teenagers say they use social networking tools at least once weekly
  • Almost 60 percent of students who use social networking talk about education topics online; 50 percent talk specifically about homework
  • More than half of all districts specifically prohibit any use of social networking in schools
  • Students and parents report fewer recent or current problems, such as cyberstalking, cyberbullying, and unwelcome personal encounters, than schools fears and policies seem to imply

Complete report

Let’s think about these facts this semester. And I’ll see you online.

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About RR

Assistant Professor of English Education at Grand Valley State University.
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