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Online Edge

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Think of social networks in schools and you probably think of trouble. MySpace, Facebook, Bebo and the rest seem more of a challenge than an opportunity to districts around the world despite the fact that students are participating in droves outside of school walls. But some new free tools are making it easier to bring social networking into the curriculum, giving schools the ability to help students leverage the connections they make online in safe and effective ways.

So here is the latest news about the Web for school leaders: it's not as scary for kids as it has been made out to be, your students are already using social networking tools extensively to discuss schoolwork, and, believe it or not, your parents support more use of social Web tools in schools.

This fall, the 45,000 students in the Seattle Public School system will be encouraged to create and publish pictures, videos and other work to their personal Web pages, where they'll even be able to create communities of "friends" online.

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