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Social Networks for Students and Teachers

Social media and social networks, from Facebook to Snapchat to Twitter and beyond, are an increasingly important part of how we communicate and connect day to day. They're key for staying in touch and up-to-date as well as contributing to our world and being creative. Many teachers find social networking a great way to expand their personal learning network and to discover resources. Just about all students rely on social media of some kind as a part of their daily routine. So how do you bring social media and social networks into the classroom? And how do you decide what will work for you and/or your students? Here's a collection of the best and most interesting social networks and social media apps and websites we've looked at to help you decide.

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For Students

The Wonderment

Ambitious global community aims for public good through student engagement

Bottom line: A powerful, improving social network for exploring the world and effecting positive change.

DIY

Design, build, and share new things offline and online

Bottom line: DIY motivates kids to tackle a wide range of problems with independent and scientific thinking.

Edublogs

Encourage student expression and maintain digital portfolios with easy-to-use blog creator

Bottom line: Edublogs is a fantastic platform for any teacher committed to providing consistent opportunities for creation and reflection.

Project Noah

Engaging online community for relevant, hands-on science fieldwork

Bottom line: Project Noah is a free and easy way to take part in biodiversity research with the support of a knowledgeable and global community.

LitPick

YA review site gives students a real-world, although ad-driven, outlet

Bottom line: LitPick is a decent place for YA lovers to discover and discuss books, but the site is in need of a refresh and features a lot of promotion/ads.

DiGii Social

Unique platform acts as social media training wheels for students

Bottom line: If students take to it and teachers can support it, DiGii Social can level up digital citizenship awareness in a safe yet authentic context.

Youth Voices

Aging online community hosts authentic student writing

Bottom line: With some patience and understanding, this could be a good space for supporting healthy student expression.

Goodreads

Lively community for bookworms to share their love of lit

Bottom line: Using Goodreads can enhance teens' reading experience and help them become thoughtful, enthusiastic readers.

Teen Ink

Get kids writing, publishing, critiquing in this valuable network

Bottom line: Teens will find a wealth of information and many opportunities to further interest in writing and the creative arts.

My Experiment

Collaborative scientific social network best for advanced HS students

Bottom line: While not for everyone, this resource can be useful for advanced students conducting their own scientific research.

For Students and Teachers

Skype

Live video communication has potential to open lots of doors

Bottom line: With a bit of work and a measure of patience, Skype can be an excellent classroom tool to expand students' horizons.

Edmodo

Manage classes, content, and communication with social LMS platform

Bottom line: This free platform allows for teacher-monitored classroom communication with basic tools.

Microsoft Teams

Collaborative LMS platform helps manage classes, groups, and projects

Bottom line: Educators will likely find that the wide variety of features Teams offers is worth the time it takes to learn how to use it.

Google Hangouts

Communication, learning, and fun converge nicely in Google's slick platform

Bottom line: It runs like a dream, works on all devices, and can be used in so many ways to enhance interactive learning.

Diigo

Social bookmarking encourages discovery, collaboration, and sharing

Bottom line: With a Diigo educator account, teachers and students have a safe space to organize, customize, and share Web content while learning about a variety of subjects.

The Harry Potter Alliance

Fan site promotes real-world heroics with activism for social justice

Bottom line: A fun, empowering community for Potter fans who want to talk Hogwarts and make the world a better place while they're at it.

Instagram

Stellar photo app promotes sharing, creativity but has risks

Bottom line: An absorbing, endless gallery of images that's fun to browse but tricky for classroom use due to privacy and content concerns.

Snapchat

Playful, social, and creative social network requires thoughtful use

Bottom line: A super-fun social media tool, but privacy issues may outweigh its classroom appeal.

GroupTweet

Simple and safe way to use Twitter with your students

Bottom line: A great way to use social media in school without compromising student safety.

LinkedIn

Great for some college-bound kids; too much pressure for others

Bottom line: While it offers resources for kids headed to college, it's hard to envision them actually wanting a LinkedIn profile.

Pinterest

Visually appealing, endlessly creative gallery of images and ideas

Bottom line: An effective way to search for new ideas and save them for later use, but keep an eye on the source -- and on your watch.

Twitter

Smart classroom tool if used with care; priceless for PLNs

Bottom line: Twitter offers something for everyone: information, resources, and an easy way to connect with just about anyone.

Discord

Social hub offers a novel but tricky spin on classroom communication

Bottom line: With some creativity and moderation, this student-loved messaging alternative to Google and Microsoft could be a key extension of your classroom.

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