Integrating a social network into an administration system for primary education
by Mark Kazemier
Research of the Dutch educational inspectorate shows that there are still many problems within Dutch primary education (Inspectie van het onderwijs, 2010). Topicus creates a pupil administration system ParnasSys that tries to solve these problems for the primary education. Two of these problems are not solved by ParnasSys however. Teachers are uncertified and teaching material is often bad. With the recent increase in popularity of social networks, Topicus sees opportunities. This study shows a social network should be integrated into ParnasSys as a stand-alone application. This means that when users log-in to ParnasSys they get a new option to go to the social network, but the existing parts do not connect directly to the network.
Existing theory and implementations of social networks in education and corporations shows that social networking creates new relationships between people that otherwise would not have existed. This leads to access to more information, new experience and creation of new content. The creation of new content can help teachers to select better teaching material, enhance their current teaching material and find solutions to issues they currently have in the classroom. They can also share their own experiences with others helping other teachers increase their skills and experiences.
When integrating a social network within ParnasSys there are two issues that need to be mitigated: 1) Copyright, 2) Privacy. Copyright can easily be mitigated by automatically posting all content on the network with a creative commons attribution license. This means that everyone can use the content as long as they mention the author. When people post content to the network that is copyrighted it can be removed when a takedown notice or report is received. Privacy is a more subtle issue. While privacy controls mitigate most of the issues. Some issues subsist. For example when a teacher posts something about a pupil and the parent of this pupil is also a teacher with access to ParnasSys this could lead to issues. The only way to mitigate this issue is by educating the users that those privacy issues exist.
It is recommended to integrate a social network within ParnasSys. There are two possibilities for further research. First the research recommends to integrate the social network as a stand-alone application as start, but it is recommended to look further into possibilities to connect several existing parts of ParnasSys with the network. For example pages with information of tests could integrate with the network where several users can work together on these tests. Second, finding of information gets more important when the network gets more users. While there are no issues found on finding of information in the interviews with users, this could become an issue in the future. It is therefore recommended to test several search methods and measure how many users use these methods to find their needed information.