I work in a high school library, students are banned from using social networking sites by the district. Students can face harsh punishment if they bypass the district's proxy and find their way onto these sites with school computers. Do I still believe that these sites can have a positive influence on student learning...absolutely!
I am a Facebook user, more of an observer, than a participant. It has been fun to reconnect with old friends, join groups of interest and look at pictures. Granted this process for me has evolved, I was not comfortable when I first joined and still don't feel comfortable posting my inner most thoughts, feelings, political views or pictures of myself. My students on the other hand love this medium and are so frustrated when they can't access it. Even my 7 year old son dreams of being on YouTube. In my opinion this has become an extension of who they are and how they relate to others. Its how they communicate, understand and learn about the world around them, this is their version of our phone calls with friends after school and notes passed in class.
In the ALA discussion of Social Networking, Danah Boyd commented that "A lot of social learning ...goes on in schools that we need to figure out how to support." She went on to state that "in the same way that you keep the door open in schools, you need to keep the digital doors open online."(ALA 2010) As educators do we look away from this potentially powerful medium that has the ability to grab the attention of students? Or do we learn to embrace it and use it as an innovative teaching tool? I believe that we have an opportunity to expand the programs and functions that a school library serves to develop curriculum's that utilize this very dynamic medium.
Social Networking and Libraries. (2010). Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/ala/newspresscenter/mediapresscenter/americaslibraries/socialnetworking.cfm