A participant in our Western Massachusetts Writing Project Summer Institute asked me to help her find some resources for a project that she hopes to do this year, using fake Facebook sites with her students to create posts for characters from various novels. She also wondered if there was a place to do this where kids (as literary characters) could interact (in character). That gives the idea a little wrinkle.
After a little research, this what I wrote to her:
First of all, here are some possibilities for creating your own “social network” concept in your classroom:
- Edmodo is a free networking system for schools. I have not used it but plenty of teachers swear by it and love it. http://www.edmodo.com/ It is closed system, and designed to at least resemble the idea of Facebook within a teacher-monitored framework
- Edublogs — You could set up blogs for your students, or a single classroom blog (which is what I do) where students contribute to the site. (now ad-free, by the way). http://edublogs.org/
- Kidblogs — Another free site that popped up last year. I have not used it but other teachers have said they like it. It’s for elementary and middle school students, so there are some limits to what they can do as bloggers. That may not matter, though. http://kidblog.org/home.php
- Ning — here, you create a real social network, and you can make it private or public. They do have a free service for teachers, sponsored by Pearson (which makes me wary), or paid services. The lowest is about $20 a year, I think. I believe users need to be 13 or older to use it. https://www.ning.com/
- WordPress — another free blogging platform.
But, if you are looking to replicate Facebook for literary characters, you need to check out:
- Fakewall — it is designed to resemble a facebook page but it is not real. http://www.myfakewall.com/ Looks interesting to me.
- This blog post shares out five different ways (including Fakewall) to create fake facebook pages. http://web20edu.com/2011/04/16/fake-facebook-templates-and-pages-for-student-projects/ It’s worth checking out. — and you should check out his other blog post about 11 Ways to use Fake Facebook ideas with students — http://web20edu.com/2011/04/18/11-ways-to-use-fake-facebook-applications-to-enhance-student-learning/
I hope that all helps. I’d be interested in knowing how it goes for you. If you are at the University level, the Ning platform would be the way to go, if you want my opinion. You could also use some of the Fake Facebook Templates and then embed them into Ning, where conversations could take place.
But I knew I needed to show her, too, and since I had no experiences with this, I decided to use Fakewall to set up a fake Facebook page for my webcomic character, Boolean from Boolean Squared. To be honest, he is not the sort who would stay long on Facebook — too mainstream for a hacker like him. But still …
I found Fakewall very easy to use, and it seems like a simple way for a teacher to bring the concept of social networking around literary characters into the classroom setting. The only downside is that others cannot comment on a page, so the entire fake page is really the work of one person.
Peace (on the fake page),