Sunday, April 20, 2008

Social Networking in the Classroom

This article talks about how use of the Internet and Web have caused problems in the classroom and how some schools, University of Chicago Law School in particular have taken extreme measures to counter this trend.

What does someone do on their laptop in class? Are they talking with friends, checking email, playing games, doing work for another class or are they actually taking notes, following along in the online slides or some other productive use?

Social Networking works well outside the classroom but there does not seem to be much use of it inside the classroom. One could attribute much of this to the behemoth that is Blackboard. For whatever long list of problems people have with the system, it has remained powerful. Recently, Blackboard lost a patent case which had a great number of its patents invalidated. What is interesting is where social networking technologies could be used in the academic environment. Blackboard has its discussion board but this is not realistically real time and not meant to be used as such.

Merge a technology like Twitter or AIM with Blackboard and bring the students back on topic by allowing them to have backchannel discussions during the lecture. This could lead to new insights, questions and involvement that could not have come about before. The possibilities for both good and bad use of these technologies is quite large.

You can try so hard to stop the future of ubiquitous computing, why not embrace it and make it do something useful?

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