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Know the educational side of social networking sites

by Sue
Views: 2175

Those hooked to social networking sites like Orkut, MySpace and Facebook, do not just kill their time online, but learn a range of new things, says a new University of Minnesota study, which has detailed the educational benefits of such websites.Orkut

Countering all the previous findings, this first-of-its kind study has also highlighted that low-income students are in many ways just as technologically savvy as their well-off counterparts.

The study was carried out for six months on students of thirteen urban high schools in the Midwest, between ages 16 to 18, belonging to families whose incomes were at or below the county median income (at or below 25,000 dollars) and who were taking part in an after school program, Admission Possible, aimed at improving college access for low-income youth.

It was found that 94 percent of the students participating in the study used the Internet, 8MySpace2 percent go online at home and 77 percent had a profile on a social networking site.

On being asked what they learn from using social networking sites, the students listed technology skills as the top lesson, followed by creativity, being open to new or diverse views and communication skills.

Other than the surveyed students, a follow-up, randomly selected subset were asked questions about their Internet activity as they navigated MySpace.

“What we found was that students using social networking sites are actually practicing the kinds of 21st century skills we want them to develop to be successful today,” saidFacebook Christine Greenhow, a learning technologies researcher in the university’s College of Education and Human Development and principal investigator of the study.

She added: “Students are developing a positive attitude towards using technology systems, editing and customizing content and thinking about online design and layout. They’re also sharing creative original work like poetry and film and practicing safe and responsible use of information and technology. The Web sites offer tremendous educational potential.”

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