Do Bebo and Facebook have educational potential?

In this week’s Multiple choice (in the Guardian Education Supplement), a parent, teacher & student were asked the above question.
Both the teacher

As a teacher, I think this kind of site has got to be part of the future.

and the parent

but I do think it’s possibly more likely you’ll get more from teenagers from Facebook than from having them hand in a conventional essay.

were more positive than the student:

I don’t think we should access MySpace or Facebook during lesson time, but some social networking sites could be involved in learning as long as they were used at break time or after school.

I tend to side more with the student, in that it’s the informal use of Facebook etc., that will be of use. The points that both the parent & teacher make, however, would cover the use of tools used to develop specific learning networks – using the skills students have developed using social networks.

I’d be wary of using the same tool for both; I like to keep personal life & work separate. However, others are less pedantic – roll on true “open Social” I say!

(N.B In the online version, the student & parent views were labelled in the opposite way to the paper based version. I’m assuming the paper is right, as the comments fit better that way)

Google's OpenSocial.

I’ve already mentioned OpenSocial – which has clearly been attracting a lot of interest. Erik Schonfeld comments on TechCrunch, that no consumers have yet changed their social networking usage. Yet.

He goes on to quote Andreesen (from Ning) saying that this will simply make application developers’ lives easier – as they’ll essentially have to develop applications twice. Once for Facebook, and once for OpenSocial – rather than the many times that they currently have to.

Refs: Andreesen, M Open Social: a new universe of social applications all over the web Retrieved Nov 4, 2007 from
Schonfeld, E Facebook, your move Retrieved Nov 4, 2007 from

OpenSocial – Google Code

OpenSocial – Google Code has finally been launched.

There are many websites implementing OpenSocial, including, Friendster, hi5, Hyves, imeem, LinkedIn, MySpace, Ning, Oracle, orkut, Plaxo,, Six Apart, Tianji, Viadeo, and XING.

I’ve not yet had a chance to have an explore. At the moment, they have links to Orkut, (the Social network that Google have owned for some time now) – to create an application. I’ve got two accounts at Orkut. One seems to be  associated with my Gmail address, the other is one I created quite a long time ago. Both seem to be active, and both equally unused.
Orkut has become very popular with Brazilians, as the demographics show! (which is, I think, why I never really got any further with using it)

However, OpenSocial is much more than just Orkut – there are some sample apps already. I’ve also got accounts with quite a few of the supported sites (Ning, LinkedIn). Facebook is clearly notable by its absence. I wonder if Elgg will appear in the list in the future.