Does Social Networking add Value to the Classroom?

Economist_debate.jpg today kicked off a new Oxford-style online debate on social networking and the value it adds to the classroom.

This month’s debate proposition is: “The house believes that social networking technologies will bring large [positive] changes to educational methods, in and out of the classroom.

Our expert debaters are two leaders in education and technology, and will square off for three rounds of debate:

  • CON – Michael Bugeja, Director of Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication, Iowa State University of Science and Technology. The author of 21 books whose research is often cited by the New York Times, Dr. Bugeja was among the first to analyze the use of social networks (Facebook & Second Life) before their use by students and educators was widespread and well-understood.
  • PRO – Ewan McIntosh, National Adviser on Learning and Technology Futures for Learning and Teaching Scotland, the education agency responsible for curriculum development, and a member of the Channel 4 Media Advisory Board. He writes about social media and learning for the Guardian and the BBC, speaks internationally and consults for organizations including the British Council, the RSA, General Teaching Council of Scotland, RM and Scottish Enterprise, advising on how social media can be harnessed for to improve learning. He blogs at

Guest participants will also contribute featured comments.

  • Parry Aftab, Founder & Executive Director,
  • Judith Krug, Directory, Office for Intellectual Freedom, American Library Association (ALA)
  • Ann Flynn, Director, Education Technology, National School Board Association (NSBA)
  • Nancy Willard, Executive Director, The Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use

Follow the Debates on Facebook

The Economist has launched a Facebook group for followers of the debate. If you’re already a Facebook member, feel free to join the group where you’ll find syndicated content and be able to interact directly with members of The Economist community, including some of the previous guest participants.

Here’s a short debate schedule:

  • Tuesday, January 15 – Opening statements & floor opens to comments from public
  • Wednesday, January 16 – Guest Participant, Parry Aftab,
  • Thursday, January 17 – Rebuttals
  • Monday, January 21 – Guest Participant, Judith Krug, American Library Association
  • Tuesday, January 22 – Guest Participant, Ann Flynn, National School Boards Association
  • Wednesday, January 23 – Closing statements
  • Thursday, January 24 – Guest Participant, Nancy Willard, Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use
  • Friday, January 25 – Debate winner announced

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