Recently, I heard a case for allowing students to use social networks such as Twitter and Facebook in the classroom. The claim is history can be shown being made in real time by those involved. While the argument is a good one, I am not convinced it justifies allowing students to use popular social networks in school.
A better solution is to allow teachers to use Facebook or Twitter, which I believe is a better solution, to search for the information then show it to the students. This gives teachers time to prepare for discussions and filter out anything that should not be seen or heard. For those who still believe students should see the information on their own, post a link or RSS feed into a learning social network such as Edmodo or Schoology. Again, this the teacher better control over what the student sees.
The recent wave of anti-government protests that have swept across northern Africa are a great opportunity for students to see events unfold in real time though social network postings. However, teachers should be cautious in how these postings should be used. There are still many administrators and parents who would not be wild about the idea of students being allowed to Tweet or Facebook at school. In my own experience, I would spend lots of time discipling students instead of teaching if they were allowed to go on Facebook by their own admission. Great teachable moments still need some measure of planning and control. With this planning and control the educational experience will be better for everyone involved.