Image via WikipediaSharon Gross wrote a great post on teaching with social networks called "Embracing the Twitter Classroom." The article is a good short argument for the connectivist classroom and the work we did here at Tacoma Community College in HIM 101. In that class, we used blogs, wikis, and twitter to create a community of learning.
There is nothing really new about using these tools for teaching and learning. Since the dawn of constructivism, educators have been talking about getting students to share their experiences as it relates to what they are learning and to communicate what they are learning in their own words. Constructivism is a recognition of the social dimension of learning. These technology tools are just other media that enable and facilitate that. Where the real change comes when these tools and networks become so ubiquitous that they begin to shape how we think and communicate (and no news there either since McLuhan).
Just as educators had a responsibility to teach the critical thinking skills needed for the traditional media, we have a responsibility to show students how to apply and use the new. Sharon Gross puts it well when she says "But the point of teaching students to use social media isn't just to embrace a novel trend: it's to help students become literate in our networking-based society."