Unit 1: Exploring social networking sites


Social networking header.jpg

Unit 1 Activities

If you have never signed up and logged in to a social networking site in the past, this should be a fun and eye-opening experience for you. If you already signed up with one, please use this opportunity to explore some of the other sites out there. This unit's activities will lay the groundwork for moving on in this course. Here, you will have the opportunity to learn about how students are already using these social networking sites and explore some of them yourself.

Learning Objectives

  • You will learn about the variety of these types of sites and typical uses of them.
  • You will learn about some of the risks associated with using these sites.

Readings and Videos

  • Start by watching this video [[1]] to introduce where these sites have come from and where they are going.

  • Watch this video created by students at the University of Dayton in Colorado as they talk about how they use FaceBook, and issues that they see with this social networking site [[2]]

  • National School Boards Association. (2007) Creating and Connecting: Research and Guidelines on Online Social and Educational Networking. Alexandria, VA: Vockley & Lang. [[3]]
    • This report is a great introduction to educators and administrators hoping to learn more about social networking websites. Note the research section on how students are using these sites currently.

  • Ellison, N., Steinfield, C., & Lampe, C. (2007) The Benefits of Facebook "Friends:" Social

Capital and College Students' Use of Online Social Network Sites. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 12, 1143-1168. [[4]]

    • This research article provides a great introduction to FaceBook and other social networking sites in addition to the concept of social capital as a resource to users.

  • Abel, M. (2005). Find Me on Facebook...as Long as You are Not a Faculty Member or

Administrator. ESource for College Transitions 3.3, 1-2. [[5]]


  • Go to Ning [[6]], type "educators" (or whatever you are interested in!) into the search feature to see a myriad of social networking sites dedicated to a variety of academic pursuits, affinity groups, and helping educators use social networking sites effectively.
  • Go to FaceBook [[7]] and look at the About FaceBook page.
  • Feel free to explore these sites, or even sign up at this point, if you feel comfortable doing so.
  • For further exploration (suggested, but not required) go to Wikipedia's section on social networking sites, [[8]]. Here, you can learn more about the history of social networking sites, see a list of the myriad of existing ones (including links to each), and look further into ones that might interest you.


Consider the issues presented in Abel's article and your impression of social networking sites, what is your initial reaction to using these sites for classwork? Because these sites are primarily used by students, discuss with your students (or peers who currently use social networking sites) how they might feel about using a social networking site for classwork. What topics arise from your conversations? What are the most prominent 21st century skills that using these sites might promote or enhance?

J0286774-1-.gifInterested in finding out what other people have to say?

Try Google-ing some of the names of these social networking sites with the term "education" or "learning" and you'll be surprised at how many educators and authors are blogging and writing about this hot topic.


Start a learning journal and consider these questions.

  • After reading and exploring a bit into the world of social networking sites, what questions do you have about their use in the classroom?
  • Are there any issues that arose from your discussions or explorations, that are still unanswered? How do you see using these sites as enhancing students' 21st century skills?
  • What social networking site do you think might work best for your class?



Image credits: Microsoft Office Online Clipart at http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/clipart/default.aspx and header image taken from cover of report by: National School Boards Association. (2007) Creating and Connecting: Research and Guidelines on Online Social and Educational Networking. Alexandria, VA: Vockley & Lang

Special thanks to Educause.edu for providing the link to the U. of Dayton video used in this unit.


Move on to Unit 2: Identifying strengths and weaknesses

Back to course main page: An Introduction to Using Social Networking Sites in Education

Feel free to view the workspace for this course on Caelynn's Portfolio Page