BlueNight wrote:My sister had an idea for a project for her Master's class: a social network for kids, for discussion of the lessons, with the ability to post pictures.
So... a class?
Bear in mind that the term "social network" pre-dates Facebook, Myspace, Friendster, AOL, LiveJournal, etc. by quite some time. Figuring out a solution to your problem requires a fundamental examination of what we now call "social networks".
Facebook is a tool that augments existing social networks. It has grown large enough that it has spawned a new mode of social networking, but that's beyond the point. Wiki is a social networking tool that enables loosely-tied communities to organize around a single framework for a common interest. Linkedin extends the time-worn concept of exchanging business cards.
What do all these have in common? They all extend some pre-existing concept in meat-sphere social networking. So any tool that you're going to create, and expect to be effective, has to be able to extend an existing function of an existing social network.
What does a 1st grade class have in common? Pretty much a teacher, a municipality, and the fact that their parents got down and dirty within the same time period. Really, any attempt to inject some synthetic concept into the environment isn't going to take hold, because it doesn't extend something we normally do. You might have some success with kids because you can just make them use it, but then that begs the question of "is it of any value"?
So the question is, what's the easiest tool to use? The answer is "the tool that most naturally facilitates normal social interactions between kids." Is there anything easier than breaking for 20 minutes of group activity time? Honestly, for young kids who are just beginning to socialize and form actual networks, I can't imagine any non-synthetic concept that would do such a thing.