Last week during my presentation at the MLTI Student Tech Team Conference, I used the phrase “capitalize on your students’ Myspace skills.” In the future that might be a better title than “Blogs and Wikis and File Sharing, Oh MY!” for my presentation. What the phrase “capitalize on your students’ Myspace skills” means is that today’s student comes to your classroom knowing how to do a lot of things online. While a student may not have ever made a wiki page before they came to your classroom or written a blog entry before they came to your classroom, if they have a Myspace or Facebook profile they have all the skills needed to make a wiki or blog. As a classroom teacher I try to capitalize on those skills my students bring with them from their Myspace and Facebook worlds. With only a few minutes of instruction a class of students can be building multimedia blogs and wikis about any topic a teacher assigns.
Continuing on the idea of capitalizing on Myspace skills, capitalize on your students’ Myspace interests by building a social network for your classes. Ning and a new service called Neetz are white label social network builders. On Neeetz teachers can create a social network built around their class(es). Teachers can use the homepage of their Neeetz network to link to assignments and resources, post video and image files, and create discussion forums for their students. Students can build their own Neeetz profile page that is linked to the network created by their teacher. Neeetz allows network creators to determine the privacy setting for their network. Networks can be made public, semi-public (membership must be approved), or private (only those invited by the creator can join).
Applications for Education
Neeetz and Ning can be used to create a central, online, location for assignments, resources, and discussion related to your classes. Having students create a profile page (they can customize the page in numerous ways) could be a great “getting to know each other” tool for the beginning of the school year or semester.
Neeetz and Ning networks could also be expanded to include parents. If you’re a sports coach, extra-curricular club advisor, or PTA member building a Neeetz or Ning network could be a good way to foster communication and build community around common interests.