Educational benefits of social networking sites… low-income students, contrary to recent studies, are in many ways just as technologically savvy as their counterparts

From a University of Minnestoa press release:

“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,” said Christine Greenhow, a learning
technologies researcher in the university’s College of Education and
Human Development and principal investigator of the study. “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.”

said that the study’s results, while proving that social networking
sites offer more than just social fulfillment or professional
networking, also have implications for educators, who now have a vast
opportunity to support what students are learning on the Web sites.

that we know what skills students are learning and what experiences
they’re being exposed to, we can help foster and extend those skills,”
said Greenhow. “As educators, we always want to know where our students
are coming from and what they’re interested in so we can build on that
in our teaching. By understanding how students may be positively using
these networking technologies in their daily lives and where the as yet
unrecognized educational opportunities are, we can help make schools
even more relevant, connected and meaningful to kids.”

researchers found that very few students in the study were actually
aware of the academic and professional networking opportunities that
the Web sites provide. Making this opportunity more known to students,
Greenhow said, is just one way that educators can work with students
and their experiences on social networking sites.