The iGen student described in "Understanding the Digital Generation" Juke, McCain, Crockett (2010) prefers to "network simultaneously with many others."
Blocking of social networking sites creates an environment where students use unprotected mobile networks to maintain their social networks at school. I do not advocate the use of FaceBook for students of Primary or Intermediate age students. It has little merit as a communication tool for this age but can provide easy access to images that are relevant to the student.
Schools today need to create an environment that allows students to choose the correct tool to network for learning and for social interaction within school. Learning to use the right vehicle for getting the message across, along with adapting the content to the audience have always been important skills for both students and adults.
Education needs to realise that social networking sites such as Facebook are used by a large cross-section of society to maintain both social and business networks. More than 500 million Facebook users makes it a mainstream communication tool. Teachers need access to social networking sites. They need to be one of the 500 million so they can engage in those powerful conversations with students around appropriate use of the internet for learning and for participating in society. I need to state again that blocking of social networking sites creates an environment where students will use unprotected mobile networks to maintain their social networks at school.
Explore Facebook for your own development. If you want a social networking solution for your classroom try Twiducate.
In April the staff watched an iGen Presentation that introduced the seven preferences explored in the book mentioned above. A great read. Watch the presentation here.