36924662_5f7ea8ef37_m.jpgAllison Miller posts on Facebook and Social Networking (To Unblock Facebook or To Not Unblock Facebook? and Should Facebook be banned from Educational Institutes) and Michael Coghlan’s podcast on Should TAFE be Using Facebook has evoked really strong emotions. Photo by Bunch of Pants.

Lets Separate The Debate

My strongest belief is we must separate the debate on the educational use of social networking totally from whether Facebook should be used in an educational context. These are two totally separate issues.

Facebook is just one form of social networking; the educational benefits of social networking shouldn’t be devalued because managers and educators base their views on social networking solely on their own personal limited knowledge and/or experience of sites like Facebook and MySpace.

It’s about Educational Networking NOT Social Networking

I totally agree with Vicki Davis — It is about Educational Networking NOT Social Networking. There is huge difference between social networking and how we use these social platforms in an educational context; educational networking is a far more appropriate term for educators to use than social networking. Read Vicki’s excellent post for a better understanding of the difference!

The Personal Nature of Social Networks

We each have varying levels of personal connection to different social networking sites, and spaces that we want to keep private and personal, and this needs to be taken into account when considering the use of sites for educational networking. I’ve no personal connection to my own Facebook account; and happily connect to anyone, including my students, within Facebook. Yet my twitter network is extremely personal to me; it’s my personal space, I don’t want to interact with family or students in twitter.

My personal belief is that Facebook should be used only as a personal network; where educators and students can choose if they do/don’t connect with one another, and if learning occurs it is a result of informal networking and support. If we want to encourage educational networking then we should be using social platforms such as Ning community; where we can make the distinction between personal and education networks.

Banning of Web Sites

I believe it is far better to educate appropriate use than ban or block web sites. As educators, we should be treated as professional, and not have to justify reasons why we want to use a web application.

The shame of the Facebook debate in the TAFE sector actually has more to concerns that adminstration staff will waste time inappropriately; then concerns of how we might use it with students.


Allison Miller has asked the following questions to ponder from this discussion which I’m unable to respond back to in this post; however we would love it if you added your thoughts to the conversation.

  • What are the POSITIVES of Social Networking? and what are the NEGATIVES of Social Networking?
  • Why do Educational Institutes ‘shy away’ from embracing ‘Social Networking Sites’ – and ‘block’ them?
  • How do we entice Educational Institutes to ‘value’ Social Networking?
  • Do Educational Institutes have an ethical responsibility to be ‘guiding’ their students through ‘how to operate’ in SNS?
  • How do we ‘measure’ and ‘demonstrate’ the educational value of SNSs?
  • How can we gather the data to show the ‘ROI in terms of relationships’ and ‘ROI in terms of information and learning’?

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