In the last post in the Technology in Modern Foreign Languages series, I set out to make a case for the use of social networking in education based on my own experience using microblogging with my classes over the past year.
According to Wikipedia, microblogging is a form of multimedia blogging that allows users to send short text updates or micromedia such as photos, video or audio clips and publish them, either to be viewed by anyone or by a restricted group which can be chosen by the user. The fact that these updates can be sent to a restricted group is an essential consideration in the context of education and online safety. Essentially, microblogging is the purpose for which the vast majority of students use social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace or, increasingly, microblogging services such as Twitter.
In the absence of an institutional Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), social networking online can be used as an extension to classroom teaching and as a tool to encourage communication and inquisitiveness among students, with the overarching objective of enhancing teaching and learning of by improving both teacher-student and student-student communication, and, in so doing, bridging the home-school divide.
The advent of what we adults call Web 2.0 -I say this because, to our students, Web 2.0 is the web- has brought us a myriad of tools with considerable educational potential that the education establishment would be unwise to overlook or disparage. Old fashioned ICT -word processing, powerpoint presentations and desktop applications in general- has often been demonstrated to motivate students.