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Create and Connect


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The National School Boards Association has released a new report on student use of social media tools. The report contains a multitude of findings that have already started an online debate about the role of social networking in the classroom.

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Create and Connect

  1. 1. CREATING & CONNECTING//Research and Guidelines on Online Social — and Educational — Networking NATIONAL SCHOOL BOARDS ASSOCIATION
  2. 2. CONTENTS Creating & Connecting//The Positives . . . . . . . . Page 1 Online social networking Creating & Connecting//The Gaps . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 4 is now so deeply embedded in the lifestyles of tweens and teens that Creating & Connecting//Expectations it rivals television for their atten- and Interests . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 7 tion, according to a new study Striking a Balance//Guidance and Recommendations from Grunwald Associates LLC for School Board Members . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 8 conducted in cooperation with the National School Boards Association. Nine- to 17-year-olds report spending almost as much time About the Study using social networking services This study was made possible with generous support and Web sites as they spend from Microsoft, News Corporation and Verizon. watching television. Among teens, The study was comprised of three surveys: an that amounts to about 9 hours a online survey of 1,277 nine- to 17-year-old students, an online survey of 1,039 parents and telephone inter- week on social networking activi- views with 250 school district leaders who make deci- ties, compared to about 10 hours sions on Internet policy. Grunwald Associates LLC, an a week watching TV. independent research and consulting firm that has conducted highly respected surveys on educator and Students are hardly passive family technology use since 1995, formulated and couch potatoes online. Beyond directed the study. Hypothesis Group managed the basic communications, many stu- field research. Tom de Boor and Li Kramer Halpern of Grunwald Associates LLC provided guidance through- dents engage in highly creative out the study and led the analysis. activities on social networking A more detailed market research report based on sites — and a sizeable proportion this survey, including findings of interest to industry, of them are adventurous noncon- is available commercially from Grunwald Associates formists who set the pace for their ( The study was carried out with support from Microsoft, peers. News Corporation, and Verizon. The views of the study Overall, an astonishing 96 per- do not necessarily represent the views of the underwriters. cent of students with online access report that they have ever used any social networking technolo- gies, such as chatting, text messag-July 2007
  3. 3. ing, blogging and visiting online homework that requires Internet A Hot Topic of Social Networking: Educationcommunities, such as Facebook, use to complete. In light of theMySpace and services designed study findings, school districtsspecifically for younger children,such as Webkins and the chat sec- may want to consider reexamin- ing their policies and practices 59% Percentage of online students who say theytions of Eighty-one and explore ways in which they talk about any education-percent say they have visited a could use social networking for related topics, including 59%social networking Web site within educational purposes. college or college planning;the past three months and 71 per- learning outside of school;cent say they use social network- news; careers or jobs; politics,ing tools at least weekly. Creating & ideas, religion or morals; and Further, students report that Connecting// schoolworkone of the most common topics The Positivesof conversation on the social There has been explosive growthnetworking scene is education. in creative and authoring activi-Almost 60 percent of students ties by students on social net-who use social networking talk working sites in recent years.about education topics online and,surprisingly, more than 50 percent With words, music, photos and videos, students are expressing 50% Percentage oftalk specifically about schoolwork. online students who say they themselves by creating, manipu- Yet the vast majority of school lating and sharing content online. talk specifically about 50% schoolworkdistricts have stringent rules This is how they’re spending time:against nearly all forms of socialnetworking during the school day Posting messages. More than one— even though students and par- in five online students (21 per-ents report few problem behaviors cent) say they post comments ononline. Indeed, both district lead- message boards every day; fourers and parents believe that social out of 10 (41 percent) say theynetworking could play a positive do so at least once a week. Inrole in students’ lives and they 2002, only 7 percent posted dailyrecognize opportunities for using and only 17 percent did so atit in education — at a time when least once a week, according to ateachers now routinely assign similar Grunwald Associates LLC Source: Grunwald Associates LLC survey. Creating & Connecting page 1
  4. 4. Sharing music. Nearly a third (32 once a week or more. Overall, six (16 percent) say they use percent) of online students say nearly half (49 percent) say they online tools to create and share they download music or audio have uploaded photos or artwork compositions that are more that other users uploaded at least at some point. sophisticated than simple art or once a week, or upload third- stories, including virtual objects, Site-building. More than one in party music or audio themselves such as puzzles, houses, clothing 10 online students (12 percent) (29 percent). More than one in 10 and games. One in seven (14 per- say they update their personal (12 percent) say they upload cent) create new characters at Web site or online profiles every music or podcasts of their own least weekly, with nearly a third of day; one in four (25 percent) do creation at least weekly. these students doing so every day. so at least weekly. In 2002, only 12 One in 10 (10 percent) start or Sharing videos. Nearly a third (30 percent of tweens and teens even contribute to online collaborative percent) of online students say had a personal Web site or online projects weekly or more fre- they download and view videos profile. quently. Ten percent send sugges- uploaded by other users at least Blogging. More than one in six tions or ideas to Web sites at least once a week. Almost one in 10 (9 (17 percent) of online students once a week as well. Nearly one in percent) say they upload videos of say they add to blogs they’ve cre- 10 (9 percent) submit articles to their own creation at least weekly. ated at least weekly; 30 percent of sites at least weekly or create polls, Overall, more than one in five students have their own blogs. In quizzes or surveys online. online students (22 percent) say 2002, blogs were a negligible blip they have uploaded videos they Nonconformists — students who on the online scene for students. created at some point. step outside of online safety and Creating content. In 2002, only behavior rules — are on the cut- Sharing photos. Nearly one in about one in seven students (13 ting edge of social networking, four (24 percent) of online stu- percent) said they were involved with online behaviors and skills dents say they post photos or art- in online art and story-sharing, that indicate leadership among work created by others at least either creating it or looking at their peers. About one in five (22 once a week. More than one in others’ work. Today, many more percent) of all students surveyed, five (22 percent) say they post students report participating in and about one in three teens (31 photos or artwork of their own just one creative process — percent), are nonconformists, stu- creation at least that often. In authoring — every week — and dents who report breaking one or 2002, only 12 percent said they the range of their content creation more online safety or behavior “exchange pictures with friends” activities is much broader. One in rules, such as using inappropriatepage 2 National Scho ol Boards Asso ciation
  5. 5. language, posting inappropriate Popular Social Networking Activitiespictures, sharing personal infor- Percentage of online tweens and teens who say they do these activities at least weeklymation with strangers or pretend-ing to be someone they are not. Nonconformists are signifi- 41% Posting messagescantly heavier users of social net-working sites than other students, 32% Downloading musicparticipating in every single typeof social networking activity sur- 30% Downloading videosveyed (28 in all) significantlymore frequently than other stu- 29% Uploading musicdents both at home and at school— which likely means that they 25% Updating personal Web sites or online profilesbreak school rules to do so. Forexample, 50 percent of noncon- 24% Posting photosformists are producers and 38percent are editors of online con- 17% Bloggingtent, compared to just 21 percentand 16 percent, respectively, of 16% Creating and sharing virtual objectsother students. These students are significantly 14% Creating new charactersmore likely to be heavy users ofboth new media (online, video 10% Participating in collaborative projectsgames, handhelds) and old media(TV, videos/DVDs, radio). But 10% Sending suggestions or ideas to Web sitesthey are significantly more likelyto prefer new media to old. They 9% Submitting articles to Web sitesalso are disproportionately likelyto learn about new sites and fea- 9% Creating polls, quizzes or surveystures online, through the “chatvine” or other online mechanisms,while other students are more Source: Grunwald Associates LLC Creating & Connecting page 3
  6. 6. Leading Their Generation likely to hear about them from Creating & Nonconformists parents or teachers. Ironically, Connecting// are significantly more likely than other students to be: nonconformists also are more in The Gaps touch with their parents as well, Traditional influentials (students who recommend products frequently and keep up with the latest brands) communicating significantly more frequently with their par- While social networking 39% ents in every way except in person seems omnipresent in the lives of — online or by cell phone, for most tweens and teens outside of 27% example — than other students. school, most school districts are Promoters (students who tell their peers about new sites These students seem to have cautious about its use in school: and features online) an extraordinary set of traditional Most schools have rules against 41% and 21st century skills, including communication, creativity, collab- social networking activities: • More than nine in 10 school dis- 25% oration and leadership skills and tricts (92 percent) require par- Recruiters (students who get a disproportionately technology proficiency. Yet they ents and/or students to sign an large number of other students to visit their favorite sites) are significantly more likely than Internet use policy. Nearly all other students to have lower 59% grades, which they report as “a (98 percent) districts use soft- ware to block access to inappro- 32% mix of Bs and Cs,” or lower, than other students. However, previous priate sites. Organizers (students who organize a lot of group • More than eight in 10 districts research with both parents and events using their handhelds) have rules against online chat- children has shown that enhanced ting (84 percent) and instant 23% Internet access is associated with improvements in grades and messaging (81 percent) in school. 10% school attitudes, including a 2003 • More than six in 10 districts (62 Networkers (students with unusually large networks survey by Grunwald Associates percent) have rules against par- of online friends) LLC. In any event, these findings ticipating in bulletin boards or 42 friends suggest that schools need to find ways to engage nonconformists in blogs; six in 10 (60 percent) also prohibit sending and receiving 17 friends more creative activities for aca- demic learning. e-mail in school. • More than half of all districts (52 percent) specifically prohibit Source: Grunwald Associates LLCpage 4 National Scho ol Boards Asso ciation
  7. 7. any use of social networking Interestingly, districts that sites in school. report that their parents are influ- Still, despite the rules, there is ential in technology decision Teachers School district leaders reportsome officially sanctioned, educa- making are more active in social Requiring that teachers are now routinely assigning homework thattionally packaged social network- networking (71 percent vs. 59 Internet requires Internet use to complete,ing occurring in schools. Almost percent in districts with low Use for no longer allowing equity con-seven in 10 districts (69 percent) parental influence). Further, large, cerns to be a barrier:say they have student Web site urban and Western districts are Homeworkprograms. Nearly half (49 per- typically more active users ofcent) say their schools participate social networking than other 96% Nearly all school districts ( ) say that at leastin online collaborative projects districts. some of their teachers assign homework thatwith other schools, and almost as requires Internet use to complete. Students and parents reportmany (46 percent) say their stu-dents participate in online pen pal fewer recent or current problems, 35% More than a third of all school districts ( ) such as cyberstalking, cyberbully- say more than half of their teachers assign home-or other international programs. ing and unwelcome personal work that requires Internet use.More than a third (35 percent) encounters, than school fears andsay their schools and/or students More than nine out of 10 school districts of low policies seem to imply. Only arun blogs, either officially or inthe context of instruction. More minority of students has had any kind of negative experience with socioeconomic status ( 94% ) say some of their teachers assign Internet-based homework, and morethan one in five districts (22 per-cent) say their classrooms are social networking in the last three months; even fewer parents report 27% than one in four of these districts ( more than half of their teachers do so. ) sayinvolved in creating or maintain- that their children have had aing wikis, Web sites that allowvisitors to add, remove or edit negative experience over a longer, 95% Nearly all school districts ( ) say that at least six-month period. some of their teachers are using Web pages to com-content. municate assignments, curriculum content and Most problems students and Many school districts also use other information. parents report are similar to thesocial networking for professionalpurposes. For example, more than types of problems typically associ- ated with any other media (televi- More than eight out of 10 school districts ( 88% )one in four districts (27 percent) subscribe to online educational services or learning sion or popular music) orsay their schools participate in a management systems, or both. Of these subscribing encountered in everyday life:structured teacher/principal districts, 87 percent allow students to access these • One in five students (20 per-online community. services from home. cent) say they have seen inap- Creating & Connecting page 5
  8. 8. propriate pictures on social net- 3 percent of parents concur. or other personal information working sites in the last three Fewer than one in 30 students to strangers. Similar differences months; 11 percent of parents, (3 percent) say unwelcome occur between districts’ beliefs referring to their own children strangers have tried repeatedly and students’ and parents’ over the last six months, concur. to communicate with them reported experiences with inap- • Nearly one in five students (18 online; 3 percent of parents propriate material, cyberbully- percent) say they have seen concur. Only about one in 50 ing and other negative inappropriate language on social students (2 percent) say a incidents. networking sites; 16 percent of stranger they met online tried to parents concur. meet them in person; 2 percent • Personally directed incidents, of parents concur. Only .08 per- which are of serious concern to cent of all students say they’ve students, parents and educators, actually met someone in person are relatively rare. About one in from an online encounter with- 14 students (7 percent) out their parents’ permission. say someone has asked The vast majority of students, them for information then, seem to be living by the Only .08% about their personal identity on a social net- online safety behaviors they learn at home and at school. of all students say working site; 6 percent • School district leaders seem to of parents concur. believe that negative experiences they’ve actually About one in 14 stu- with social networking are more dents (7 percent) say common than students and par- met someone they’ve experienced self- ents report. For example, more defined cyberbullying; 5 than half of districts (52 per- in person from percent of parents con- cent) say that students provid- cur. About one in 25 ing personal information online an online encounter students (4 percent) say has been “a significant problem” they’ve had conversa- in their schools, yet only 3 per- without their tions on social network- cent of students say they’ve ever ing sites that made given out their e-mail addresses, parents’ permission. them uncomfortable; instant messaging screen namespage 6 National Scho ol Boards Asso ciation
  9. 9. Creating & Connecting social networking will help stu- an educational tool. Both also// Expectations and dents “learn to express themselves demand an educational value andInterests better creatively” and “develop purpose as a requirement for global relationships.” social networking in school. But district leaders are skepti- Nearly nine in 10 district leaders While a significant per- cal at this point about the educa- (87 percent) say “strong educa-centage of educators require their tional value of social networking. tional value and purpose” will bestudents to use the Internet for Fewer than one in three (29 per- a requirement for them to permithomework, school policies indi- cent) believe that social network- student access to any social net-cate that many are not yet con- ing could help students improve working site. Urban (89 percent)vinced about the value of social their reading or writing or express and rural (96 percent) districtsnetworking as a useful educa- themselves more clearly (28 per- feel particularly strongly abouttional tool or even as an effective cent). Somewhat more of them this, compared to their peers.communications tool. This may (36 percent) hope that social net- More than seven in 10 parentsindicate that their experience with working will help students learn (72 percent) agree that educa-social networking is limited. to work together to solve aca- tional value and purpose areHowever, they are curious about demic problems. “important” or “very important.”its potential — a sign that there Parents, on the other hand, Large proportions of districtmay be some shifts in attitudes, have higher expectations. More leaders say that a strong emphasispolicies and practices in the future. than three in four (76 percent) on collaborative and planned expect social networking to help activities (81 percent), strongBoth schools and especially par- their children improve their read- tools for students to expressents have strong expectations ing and writing skills or express themselves (70 percent) and anabout the positive roles that themselves more clearly; three out emphasis on bringing differentsocial networking could play in of four (75 percent) also expect kinds of students together (69students’ lives. District leaders say social networking to improve percent) would be required forthey hope social networking will children’s ability to resolve con- them to buy into social network-help students “get outside the flicts. Almost as many (72 per- ing for school use. But most alsobox” in some way or another. cent) expect social networking to would insist on adult monitoringNearly half of them (48 percent) improve their children’s social (85 percent) and would continueexpect social networking to intro- skills as well. to prohibit chat and instant mes-duce students to “new and differ- saging (71 percent) as conditionsent kinds of students.” More than Both schools and parents are of social networking use infour in 10 (43 percent) hope interested in social networking as school. Creating & Connecting page 7
  10. 10. Striking a Balance// including new technology. Clearly, Explore social networking sites. Guidance and both district leaders and parents Many adults, including school Recommendations for are open to believing that social board members, are like fish out School Board Members networking could be such a tool of water when it comes to this — as long as there are reasonable new online lifestyle. It’s important parameters of use in place. for policymakers to see and try Parents and communities Moreover, social networking is out the kinds of creative commu- place faith in school board mem- increasingly used as a communi- nications and collaboration tools bers and educators to protect stu- cations and collaboration tool of that students are using — so that dents during the school day — choice in businesses and higher their perceptions and decisions and that means securing their education. As such, it would be about these tools are based on safety when they’re online. It is wise for schools, whose responsi- real experiences. appropriate, bility it is to prepare students to Consider using social networking then, for transition to adult life with the for staff communications and Safety policies school boards skills they need to succeed in both professional development. In dis- to approach arenas, to reckon with it. tricts where structured online remain important, as social net- Finally, despite the large professional communities exist, working with majorities of students who seem participation by teachers and does teaching students thoughtful to be highly active social butter- administrators is quite high. policies that flies online, equitable access is still Nearly six in 10 districts (59 per- about online safety maintain their a critical consideration for cent) say at least half of their staff parents’ and schools. It is incumbent on members participate, while nearly and responsible online communities’ schools to recognize the silent four in 10 (37 percent) say 90 trust. minority of students who do not percent or more do so. These expression — but students At the same have easy access to computers, cell findings indicate that educators time, parents phones and other devices com- find value in social networking — may learn these lessons and communi- monly used for social networking. and suggest that many already are ties also expect Here are some ways that comfortable and knowledgeable better while they’re schools to take school board members could enough to use social networking advantage of strike the appropriate balance for educational purposes with actually using potentially between protecting their students their students. powerful edu- and providing a 21st century edu- social networking tools. cational tools, cation:page 8 National Scho ol Boards Asso ciation
  11. 11. Find ways to harness the educa- Pay attention to the noncon- but students may learn these les-tional value of social network- formists. The survey findings sons better while they’re actuallying. Some schools and educators identify this group of students as using social networking tools.are experimenting successfully highly engaged and skilled at Encourage social networkingwith chat rooms, instant messag- social networking and as an influ- companies to increase educa-ing, blogs, wikis and more for ential leadership cadre among tional value. Educational leadersafter-school homework help, their peers. Yet they seem to be should work with social network-review sessions and collaborative lukewarm about traditional ing companies to increase servicesprojects, for example. These activ- schoolwork and academics, per- that are explicitly educational inities appeal to students — even haps because the allure of social nature, via informal or formal ini-students who are reluctant to par- networking is more compelling tiatives that highlight educationalticipate in the classroom. than traditional ways of learning. offerings. By reaching out to these studentsEnsure equitable access. Schools and tapping into their interests,have a role to play in closing the educators could yield a doubledigital divide with social network- benefit: a heads-up on the nexting, just as they have with new things that many other stu-Internet access. Most students dents are likely to gravitate tohave some way to get online, online and improved academiceither in their schools, at public results for the nonconformists.libraries or at home — as educa-tors apparently recognize when Reexamine social networkingthey assign homework that policies. Many schools initiallyrequires Internet use. But educa- banned or restricted Internet use,tors will have to consider the only to ease up when the educa-often-impromptu exchanges and tional value of the Internetinstant access that are characteris- became clear. The same is likelytic of social networking as they to be the case with social net-plan ways to incorporate it into working. Safety policies remaineducational experiences. important, as does teaching stu- dents about online safety and responsible online expression — Writing and design by Vockley•Lang Creating & Connecting page 9
  12. 12. The National School Boards Association is a not-for-profit federa- tion of state associations of school boards across the United States. Our mission is to foster excellence and equity in public education through school board lead- ership. NSBA representsthe nation’s 95,000 school board members that gov-ern 14,890 local school districts serving more than47 million public school students. The Technology Leadership Network (TLN) is NSBA’s district membership program designed for education leaders who estab- lish policies and implement tech- nology decisions that enhance teaching and learning, operations, and community outreach efforts.National School Boards Association1680 Duke StreetAlexandria, VA