Why Not Use Social Networks? by Joel Josephson

by Guest Author, Joel Josephson

Why Not Use Social Networks?

Educators that are not using Facebook often use the arguments that they are concerned for their:

  1. Privacy
  2. Time

Although there are other arguments used I will try to answer these two in this article.


At the root of Social networks is the personalisation of your online character through your contributions to the networks. This can be restricted to your professional character but your personal character, your private life, can be kept separately off the network.

I would strongly recommend using your real identity on the networks. To gain the maximum benefit professionally other users need to see who and what you do, and evaluate you as a worthy, professional friend. They need to see the synergies with their own professional area. It must be remembered that these are personal networks, and limiting your exposure as a business or institution limits the personalisation of your involvement.

On Facebook I place all my contacts in to Friend lists, (I have about 30 now). These can be broadly categorized by:

  • Professional
  • Family & Friends
  • Social Game players (I own up, I play games, although this, of course is about my research in to the use of games in education … cough cough)

Using the ‘Custom’ privacy settings Facebook allows me to select which list of friends I permit to view all the various areas of information about me, including posting to my wall. So Family see/do everything. Some Professional, for example, do not see photos of my children. Game players see nothing at all.

It does take some effort to set up the groups and privacy settings but once they are done, you don’t have to think about it again. When you ‘Add a new friend’ you just assign the person to one of your lists. As an additional measure I do look at the privacy settings periodically to see if Facebook have changed anything.


Social networking has saved me years of work. I will repeat that: Social networking has saved me years of work

What I gain in information and understanding, arguments and knowledge have infinitely expanded on core areas of my professional life and led me to new ideas, better, smarter ways of doing things and a group of people that I can always turn to for answers.

The web tools that I have been led to by my network have infinitely raised the quality and effectiveness of my work and the information flow takes me in directions and synergies that could only be achieved through weeks of effort.

So are SNs time consuming or wasteful? Everything can be diverting, TV, newspapers, radio, books it is all better then sitting working (sometimes).

We bring discipline to our work, or we would not be were we are, and we bring the same discipline to our use of Social Networks. We control the time we spend on them by evaluating the importance of the information or network and its value to our work. We know when we are wasting time and when we are being productive and it is exactly the same when using a social network.

Of course, when you first create a public profile on Facebook all the friends and acquaintances that you have made over the years will come knocking on the door, wanting to ‘Friend’ you. I have found that after a very short while and you have caught up, this reduces to the very occasional trickle. You can also control the flow using the privacy controls described above.


In my opinion, the advantages of being ‘personally’ involved far outweigh any negatives. There is nothing to fear on a privacy level or time. So take the plunge, the water is warm, mainly clean and you get to swim with some of the most interesting and uplifting professionals on the planet.

Of course the aPLaNet EuropeAN project, Aplanet-project.eu, and aPLaNet Ning community, Aplanet-project.eu, will be providing answers and practical help on how to build your own personal network for your professional development. If you are an experienced user of the networks and have your own PLN then we also invite you to become an aPLaNet mentor (join the Ning).

Joel Josephson is the initiator/partner in 17 innovative European language projects. Joel is well known for his exciting and effective approaches to motivate language learners. Joel runs the EU_Educators Facebook group, that is sharing EU projects globally. He also founded the Kindersite Project early learning website, one of the first effective sites for schools. Formerly involved in high tech at the start of the Internet, he had 2 successful start-ups and consulted to technology companies. He has brought his understanding of technology into education by initiating many interesting projects with innovative uses of ICT. His Twitter handle is @acerview54.

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What are your favorite ways to learn online? Did I miss any other great professional development opportunities?

Shelly Terrell

Shelly Sanchez Terrell (@ShellTerrell) is an award winning digital innovator, an international speaker/consultant, and the author of Hacking Digital Learning with EdTech Missions, The 30 Goals Challenge for Teachers, and Learning to Go. She has trained teachers and taught English language learners in over 20 countries as an invited guest expert by organizations, like the US Embassy, UNESCO Bangkok, Cultura Inglesa of Brazil, the British Council in Tel Aviv, IATEFL Slovenia, HUPE Croatia, ISTEK Turkey, and Venezuela TESOL. She has been recognized by several organizations and publications as a leader in the movement of teacher driven professional development as the founder and organizer of various online conferences, Twitter chats, and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Two of the projects she co-organized were shortlisted for ELTons, #ELTChat and the Virtual Round Table Language and Technology online conference. She was named Woman of the Year by the National Association of Professional Women, awarded a Bammy Award as a founder of #Edchat, and named as one of the 10 Most Influential People in EdTech by Tech & Learning. Her greatest joy is being the mother of baby Savannah and Rosco the pug. Shelly has an Honors BA in English with a Minor in Communication and a specialization in Electronic Media from UTSA, a Masters in Curriculum Instruction ESL from the University of Phoenix, and a CELTA from CELT Athens. She regularly shares her tips for effective technology integration via Twitter (@ShellTerrell), Facebook.com/ShellyTerrell, and on her blog, TeacherRebootCamp.com, which has won several awards and recognitions as one of the top ESL, Edtech and Elearning blogs. Find over 400 of her slide presentations at https://www.slideshare.net/ShellTerrell/presentations


  1. Hey Shelly,

    I was wondering if you would like to blog for CoursePark? We are a Social eLearning Platform getting more social features all the time. We have the ability to start discussions in Learning Networks which are based on interest and you can direct message and follow people to view their learning profiles. We are implementing a way to use a “wall” feature to post anything interesting you find and we are also starting on micro-blogs within learning networks. It’s a great site with thousands of courses available. You can email me with any question if you feel like it!



  2. Great post! I feel fortunate to have the wealth of online resources that are available today at my fingertips so early on in my career. (…seriously, what did teachers to before the Web?!)
    Thanks for your insights. 🙂

  3. Really, really afraid I can’t agree about Facebook. Maybe I’m alone in this, but I really don’t want all my online contacts there, whether they’re filtered by groups or whatever. I try to reserve Facebook for people I have seen, or am very likely to see face-to-face. I don’t want everyone I contact on Twitter adding me as a friend on Facebook. Just don’t. It’s why I set up a Page related to my blog. I think that people should respect that sometimes people might feel that way before clicking on ‘Send Friend Request’

  4. I definitely see the benefits of a service like facebook for social networking professionally and personally, however, as a middle school teacher I think services like Edmodo do a better job connecting me to my students.

  5. What we do is have our staff create a fan page for themselves that is completely separate from their own personal facebook page. We seen this keeps privacy intact and allows students & teacher interact on a completely different level.

  6. I agree with creating a fan page, it keeps things separate from your personal page. Keep the privacy settings strict and obviously don’t publish anything personal/confidential. You’ll be fine.

    The pros far outweigh the cons, and in today’s day and age, it’s not acceptable to be “behind the times”, especially for educators!

  7. […] Why not use social networks? asks Joel Josephson, and I can see his arguments, I really can. And teachers have started connecting on Facebook. But I do not want everyone I’m in contact with on Twitter to be in contact with me on Facebook. I don’t want 1,000-odd ‘friends’. Yes, I know you can limit the privacy settings, and put people on lists, but I’m not prepared to go through that analysis every time someone sends me a friend request. With Facebook for me, either you’re in or out – I’ll only add someone as a friend if we’ve met and had at least a chat face-to-face. […]

  8. Facebook is not the only game in town. This week we have google+ and b4 and still Bebo. In addition why not address the con issue – what about the downsides of Fb that are alluded to by the media. And finally what about moderation ?

  9. […] Why Not Use Social Networks? By Joel Josephson This was a post that I felt would be good for our class on technology. The author disuses the benefits of social networking. She discusses how to organize you face book account to be beneficial to you, the importance of social networking. […]

  10. Have struggled to find any professional development in Facebook – my issue with it is that it is largely inane. Until recently I thought the same about Twitter – how wrong I was. Am now a passionate convert – it really is invaluable PD when combined with blogging. See mine: http://learningspy.edublogs.org/

  11. […] Why Not Use Social Networks? By Joel Josephson This was a post that I felt would be good for our class on technology. The author discuses the benefits of social networking. She discusses how to organize you face book account to be beneficial to you, the importance of social networking. […]

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