Give social networking a try with Facebook

After reading a post by Kathy Schrock about trying out Facebok,  I decided to give it a whirl myself.  I had thought that it was only available to high school and college students and teachers, but I was surprised to find that they have over 1,000 work networks registered as well, Discovery being one of them. 

I registered a new account at Facebook and found it much easier to get rolling than Xanga and MySpace.  For lack of a better term, it’s much cleaner.  Doesn’t feel so chaotic.  It took me a few minutes to update my profile, upload a photo and start exploring. 

After spending some time browsing through the Discovery network, I decided to go exploring.  It seems as though you can only browse through your own network (the network you initially registered with), but you can search through any network on the site.  I looked up my high school, but didn’t have any specific names to search for.  I quickly discovered that the minimum you can search for is two characters.  So by typing in "st", I was able to browse through profiles for every person at my high school with "st" in their name (94 people).  This gave me an idea of what kinds of ways students are presenting themselves.

This brings up one nice safety feature that Facebook has.  While I was able to figure out a way to browse through those users in a limited way, all I was able to see was their username, profile photo, and a list of who their friends were.  I couldn’t see the rest of their profile unless I requested that they add me as a friend first.  So as I was browsing through the list of users, I was blocked from getting any other information about them.  Their name, photo and school does give away plenty of information, but at least people were prevented from seeing other photos, IM information, phone numbers and blog entries.

I did spend a little time exploring groups, but haven’t seen any that inspired me yet.  So I created my own group.  There’s now a Discovery Educator Network group available in Facebook.  If you create a profile on the site, you should look it up. 

If you haven’t explored social networking sites like MySpace, Xanga or Facebook yet, I think Facebook would be a great place to start.  Head over there, create a profile, and join the DEN group.  Get some first hand experience and see what all the hype and concerns are about for yourself.

BTW, don’t worry if you aren’t at a college or high school.  It says in their help section:

If you are a college alum, and you have access to a school alumni email
address, then you can easily register for and use Facebook. We accept alumni
forwarding accounts, available at many schools (usually for free) through their
school or alumni association. Check out your school’s website to see if they
offer alumni email addresses. Also, if you now work for a network that we
support, you can register with your work email address. This, however, will
affiliate you with your work network rather than your old school.

Sounds like it isn’t hard to get a college email and get registered.  So give it a shot, and if you do, send me a poke!

Steve Dembo's Facebook profile


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  1. Glenda Jenkins said:

    If only we could get students to think about who they add as friends! Unfortunatly we have had students that misused the social networking sites and lost a lot of network privilages. You can now see signs on lockers that say “My Space ruined my life”

  2. Tom Turner said:

    Good Point Glenda. My students and I were discussing “Myspace” and other sites of similarities. What scares me coming out of this discussion is the lack of supervision by the parent/guardians of these kids while they are surfing the internet and trolling “Myspace.” In response to this and other issues of internet interest, my school is hosting an internet safety night with someone from the FBI coming out to talk to both parents and students in separate sessions. Every little bit of education helps when it comes to this.

  3. Sylvia Vigo-Smith said:

    I have a 15 year old that had a My Space account. I am lucky that we have a relationship that fosters trust so that I have been able to see the trash that some students have written and the great amount of trouble some of these kids can get and/or have gotten into. Parental involvement is a big concern at any age but at middle and high school level it’s worse. I think getting the FBI involved is a great idea. How did you go about contacting them for this project?

  4. Catch Up Lady said:

    An internet safety night is a great idea – I wish that more high schools and middle schools would do that. A recent study I saw said that 1 in 7 kids was sexually solicited online in 2005 – imagine, that is roughly 5 kids in any classroom – far too many!

    There are a lot of great internet safety resources out there – I like the MySpace Safety Tips page (you don’t need to be a member to view this, it’s at the bottom of the homepage). They have some great links to other resources and sites for parents and teens.

    I also think that CyberTipline is a great resource for high school age kids because it allows you to quickly report anyone that is sexual soliciting you online with out giving your name. I’ve actually used this a few times when I’ve gotten creepy MySpace messages or gotten spam emails with questionable content, etc.

    Overall I’m just glad that there is more discussion on this topic in schools and in homes. 😀

  5. Pam Ellsesser said:

    I have a hundred ideas of how Facebook and Myspace could be used in the classroom, but unfortunately we have concerns about student security. I always believed that we need to provide more education rather then blocking these resources, but I also can appreciate the administrations and Technology depts point of view. We are getting creative in our attempts to find a resource that will offer us similar social networking abilities, and for now we may try out Ning.

  6. Michael McCree said:

    I had some concerns when I signed up for Face Book. Being a coach, I wanted some privacy from my players in what they could see and not see. I like the safety features that face book has and I believe there is a place for it in schools if used for educational purposes.

  7. Stacie said:

    I love using Facebook to keep in touch with college and high school alumni, but I do not think it currently has a role in the classroom. Facebook has recently (and continues to) upgraded their privacy settings, but it still requires a lot of personal information to manage an account. Wikispaces is currently giving out free wikis to educators and students. If a teacher established the wiki and a class account, the students can use their wikis to create online portfolios and blogs. In addition, allows the teacher to create a general account and then create student accounts, requiring absolutely zero information about the student. Both of these are much safer forums for students to use and can be used for social networking.

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