AASL's second longitudinal survey reveals schools’ acceptance of social networking tools

Contact: Melissa B. Jones
AASL Communications Specialist
(312) 280-4381

For Immediate Release
July 1, 2008

AASL’s second longitudinal survey reveals schools’ acceptance of social networking tools <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

CHICAGO—The American Association of School Librarians (AASL), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), is expecting final results in August of the second in a series of longitudinal surveys providing data on the health of the nation’s school library media programs as well as data on current topics of interest.

The findings from the studies will be used to advocate for school library media programs at the local, state and national level.

Launched in January, the 2008 survey selected questions focused on the use of social networking tools by school library media specialists and their teacher collaborators in elementary and secondary schools. The questions asked specifically which social networking tools schools utilized in preparing their students for learning in the 21st century. Of the 6,998 total respondents to the survey, 5,170 answered the social networking questions.

Preliminary findings from the study show that elementary, middle and high schools are beginning to treat social networking tools as an essential part of preparing students for the 21st century. Some key findings include:

  • Fifty-three percent of elementary, middle and high schools use some sort of collaborative tools to aid in instruction.
  • Fifty percent of schools use intranet within their school community and more than 41 percent of schools use podcasts.
  • Twenty-nine percent of schools use blogs as an instructional platform.
  • Although not extensively used, tools like online instruction and social bookmarking are popular with almost 20 percent and more than 15 percent of schools using some form of these tools, respectively.
  • Integrating social networking tools into instruction is widely accepted by public and private schools alike.

Texting, chatting, virtual worlds and popular social networking sites like MySpace are the tools least utilized in elementary, middle and high school curricula.

"The data is a powerful indicator that social networking tools are becoming more and more vital in a student's education," said AASL President Sara Kelly Johns. "Group collaboration and discussion are becoming more evident in the learning process. These processes create a community of learners where a student can help lead the educational process."

The results demonstrate that schools are continuing to accept social networking tools and technology as vital parts of the education of a 21st-Century student. The common beliefs within AASL's "Standards for the 21st-Century Learner" state that technology and social skills are essential to the development of 21st Century students in order for them to be viable members of the working community. Schools' adoption of these social networking tools moves the educational process towards a more collaborative environment where learning is a social process and a community of learners—teachers and students alike—vets information in wikis, discusses processes in blogs and uses online instruction and social bookmarking to make students more accountable for and active in their educational journey.

Final results of the 2008 survey will be released in August 2008.

The American Association of School Librarians, www.aasl.org, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), promotes the improvement and extension of library media services in elementary and secondary schools as a means of strengthening the total education program. Its mission is to advocate excellence, facilitate change and develop leaders in the school library media field.