DIY Social Networks, perhaps as an alternative/supplement to online teaching tools?

This is another couple of links that falls into the category of “this is interesting, but I don’t have time think too hard about this now:” TechCrunch had a post a while ago called “9 Ways to Build Your Own Social Network,” and this morning, I came across “34 More Ways to Build Your Own Social Network.” Having just looked at these things for 10-15 minutes this morning, these are all different options for doing MySpace/Facebook -like things on your own, with different levels of “do it yourself”-ness. Some of these solutions seem about as easy as Facebook itself, while other options involve software you have to install and run on your own server.

It seems to me a tool like this might be a good thing for online teaching. I tried to get students in recent online classes to have some networking with each other via Facebook, but they weren’t that interested. So many students at EMU are older and/or returning, and while I have lots of students with Facebook accounts, I also have a lot who don’t have them and who are leery of starting an account. And for students who do have Facebook accounts, most of them don’t seem to like mixing the “fun” of that social networking tool with the “work” of classes and school.

So, if a teacher (or a program) could build their own social networking space, perhaps that could help introduce the ideas/uses of this kind of software in a classroom while not crossing the “fun” border some students have in place with Facebook and/or MySpace. Maybe it could even replace clunky software like Blackboard.

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