Free websites use social networking tools to share content

Sites like Wiggio and Sophia provide resources to make sharing information easier for all ages.

As social networking and education become increasingly compatible, free websites like Wiggio and Sophia are working to strengthen this bond by providing additional tools for educators and students.

Wiggio lets users form online groups and provides the tools to create private listservs and web addresses; manage events with a shared calendar; send eMail, text, and voice messages; and manage files in a shared folder.

Sophia is a free social teaching and learning platform that offers academic content to anyone, free of charge. The website, which has been described as a mashup of Facebook, Wikipedia, and YouTube focused solely on education, also lets educators create a customized learning environment in a private or public setting.

They are some of the latest websites in what is a growing trend of free social networking sites that can help educators and students collaborate and share content. Another is Edmodo, which launched a few years ago and offers free classroom communication for teachers, students, and administrators on a secure social network.

“A teacher will make a Wiggio group as a way to share files, poll students, set up chat rooms for after-school help, and set up conferences for tutoring sessions,” said founder Dana Lampert. “The other [main usage] we see is peer-to-peer collaboration within project groups.”

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Lampert first started thinking about a site like Wiggio when he became overwhelmed from dealing with too many groups.

“I was in extracurricular groups, some intramural sports teams, and then a lot of my class projects had group work,” he said. “What I found was all of these groups were using different tools, so one would use one calendar, one would use one listserv, and one would use some kind of file-sharing program. All of these groups were all over the place, and I just said, wouldn’t it be nice if all these groups that I’m in could have one home and one place—and I can log in to that one site to deal with all of my groups in a very clean and simple way?”

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