This has already been widely blogged, but the fact that the National School Boards Association is encouraging schools to take another look at the use of social networks in classrooms is big, big news. And I have to tell you, after reading through the results of a study NSBA undertook, it all of a sudden feels like their be a moment close at hand where “innovation” (as Chris puts it) might be possible.

While the study confirms that the risks of the Internet are overblown, here’s the finding that really raised my eyebrows:

Social networking may be advantageous to students — and there could already be a double standard at work. 37% of districts say at least 90% of their staff are participating in online communites of their own — related to education — and 59% of districts said that at least half were participating. “These findings indicate that educators find value in social networking,” the study notes, “and suggest that many already are comfortable and knowledgeable enough to use social networking for educational purposes with their students.”

To be honest, that’s not representative of the reality I’ve found as I’ve talked to teachers over the past couple of years. I think it would be interesting to see what the definition of “online community” is in this instance. Still, even if it’s defined very broadly, that’s an encouraging number. And I wonder how many of the students surveyed would affirm that their teachers are involved in these communities. How much modeling is going on? I’d be interested in what others think of that finding.

And here’s another finding that I found interesting:

In fact, 76% of parents expect social networking will improve their children’s reading and writing skills, or help them express themselves more clearly, according to the study, and parents and communities “expect schools to take advantage of potentially powerful educational tools, including new technology.”

Now that is very cool, and clearly gives an opening to this conversation on a broader scale.

It’s nice to get some good news on the social networking in schools front, isn’t it? Now we need to think about the best ways to move toward a systemic, K-12 integration of these tools into the curriculum.

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