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Education-oriented social networks are often associated with a school or educational institution but are sometimes unrelated, but focused on educational issues.

As social media has become such an integral part of most everyone's lives today, schools at all levels are looking at ways in which they can bring social media networks into the classroom, and often the answers have been found in networks that have been specifically adapted to the educational environment. Most of these are operated by private companies or organizations, but some schools have created their own.

Teacher-student relationships, cyberbullying, and indiscretion on the part of students have led to hesitation on the part of many school districts to endorse social networking in an educational environment. There are, however, safer networks that allow for tighter controls, allowing students to interact with peers, teachers, and school administrators without some of the ethical and legal dangers associated with mainstream social networks.

Online social networks that are based in school systems are similar to Facebook and other social media in many respects. Students can create profiles, update them, and share their opinions and ideas with others on the network. They can post photos, video, and other content. They usually include groups or forums that students can join. Major differences between school-based and public social networks have to do with control, accountability, and access.

Many of these school-based networks will not be listed here because they are not accessible by the public, and are known to those who they are intended for. Membership in school-based networks is generally reserved for students, teachers, and administrators, the idea being that this may help to protect them from spammers, predators, and other possibly harmful influences.

School networks may also include subnetworks for elementary, middle school, and high school students, with limited to no access between the grade-specific subnetworks.

School-based networks may not allow for private messaging, and some do not allow students to friend other students, as this excludes those who are not friended.

School-based networks may be integrated into the curriculum. Teachers may use the network to communicate with students about schoolwork, conduct assignments, and in other ways, including online class discussions about topics relevant to the curriculum.

Private companies have also been developing platforms they claim will be safer and more educational for school-aged children. Although these networks may not incorporate specific curricula, many of them will offer games and activities for members, providing a venue for social interaction with an emphasis on safety and the development of Internet skills, and may take such measures as authenticating parents and limiting student contacts to those who are on a preapproved list. Commonly, such networks are monetized through fees to schools and company sponsorships, rather than through advertising.

Another way in which schools have chosen to adopt social networking is through programs and third-party networks and software intended to train students to use public social networking tools safely.

In some cases, these involve off-line social media programs that mimic Facebook, Twitter, or other social media platforms, but in an Intranet environment or, in some cases, wholly offline. Generally, these resources are intended to teach cybersafety and positive online behaviors while familiarizing them with actual social media. Some of these are developed in the form of a game that simulates a social networking site.

Other education-oriented social media networks are intended for school alumni, serving as a means in which people who attended or graduated from the same schools might be able to reconnect, interact, and schedule reunions.

Whatever the format or specific target audience, the use of social media by the schools, or within an educational environment, are the focus of topics in this category.



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