What are Social Networks?

Today’s web users are prolific creators of content, and they upload photographs, audio, and video to cloud-based social networks, such as Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, and many others by the billions. While the initial emphasis of social networks was placed on producing and uploading media to these popular sharing sites, as the notion of social media has evolved it has ultimately become more about the conversations started and relationships formed via this media. When users log in to Facebook and Twitter, two of the sites that have the most subscribers and daily traffic, they are there to see what their family, friends, and favorite brands and organizations are doing and who is talking about what. For educational institutions, social media enables two-way dialogues between students, prospective students, educators, and the institution that are less formal than with other media. New tools, such as Facebook’s social search engine, promise to mine these interactions using a concept known as the social graph. A person’s social graph represents the sum of all of a person’s online social connections (who he or she is friends with, who likes the things she or her friends are interested in, who among those connections is where, etc.) and provides a means to search and navigate those connections. Social graphs can be visualized in a variety of interesting ways, but far more interesting is the information embedded within the social graph and what it can tell us.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • I feel that social networks are here already and the important component is to have students learn how best to communicate and participate to help them learn and to help them help others. I am not convinced that social graphs are very useful, because number of followers and "reach" does not necessarily mean the student is really making the connections.- kathyschrock kathyschrock Jan 30, 2015
  • Social networks are indeed here already. Students are using them...teachers are using them...just not together. There's an ISTE book called "From Fear to Facebook"...I feel like I could write the sequel. K-12 schools need to get over their phobias re: social media and start exploiting what people are going to do anyway for educational purposes. Here's an essay that sums up the situation well:
    http://www.edudemic.com/social-media-in-education-series/ - davidwdeeds davidwdeeds Feb 8, 2015
  • I don't see this becoming less popular. As students engage in social media they expect to have their voice heard. This changes what we can do in the classroom since a teacher focused classroom won't be tolerated by many students. The ability for teachers to be connected allows them "observe" what is going on in other classrooms to influence what they do. This is already happening, it will become more prevalent. - mrskeeler mrskeeler Feb 9, 2015 - davidwdeeds davidwdeeds Feb 20, 2015
  • It is critical to teach students to use these effectively and safely (which can't happen without letting them have access) - shorr shorr Feb 18, 2015 Agree - deirdre.butler deirdre.butler Feb 22, 2015
  • Although it will change, I still will argue that Twitter is the most important and critical self-professional development tool available to teachers and administrators. So many of our successful initiatives either came from or were enhanced by connections teachers and admins have made via social media (particularly Twitter)- shorr shorr Feb 18, 2015- digitalroberto digitalroberto Feb 22, 2015
  • We have been talking about the sociability of online learning for well over a decade now. Social and educational media support building learning communities for a variety of short and long term purposes. The advantages of this meet both local and global learning objectives. It is not a matter of 'teaching' students how to be social learners, it is more a matter of teachers modeling this in their own teaching and learning practices. - lindsay.julie lindsay.julie Feb 21, 2015- digitalroberto digitalroberto Feb 22, 2015
  • This is the new community center. If we want to have a presence in the lives of our communities, we must be a participant in social netowrks as a district, teacher, and an individual. - alex.podchaski alex.podchaski Feb 23, 2015alex.podchaski

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • Last year, one theme was "collaborative networks". This article compares social and collaborative networks. http://ostatic.com/blog/the-future-of-collaborative-networks I almost feel that the MOOC belongs in this category, too, since it is a collaborative network and, when done right, demonstrates networking done with a purpose.- kathyschrock kathyschrock Jan 30, 2015
  • I think what's been missing from the discussion is the importance of personal responsibility. All too often, at my school and I'm sure at others as well, the hardware/software gets blamed when it's the meatware that's at fault. I've worked for just one school that had the right attitude. In China, a kid did a search for pornography, found some and showed another student. You can imagine the proposed knee-jerk reactions: filters, firewalls, etc. Instead, the principal called in the kid's parents...told them that if their little darling ever did it again, he'd be expelled from school. What do you know...never happened again. All...ALL...of the "fears" re: social networks/media could be overcome with this same kind of focus on discipline, self- and otherwise. - davidwdeeds davidwdeeds Feb 8, 2015 agree - mrskeeler mrskeeler Feb 9, 2015 - lindsay.julie lindsay.julie Feb 21, 2015 Agree, there needs to be a sense of responsibility developed as to how these media are used. The old adage of "for every right, there is an equal responsibility" needs to underpin use of all technologies. This theme is linked with digital identity. - deirdre.butler deirdre.butler Feb 22, 2015 This falls to digital literacy and citizenship. We know not to yell fire in a crowded theater, but not to post the equivalent on social networks.- alex.podchaski alex.podchaski Feb 23, 2015alex.pdochaski
  • The use and integration of social media in lessons and in classrooms to realize that it is a medium that students need to be proficient at. - mrskeeler mrskeeler Feb 9, 2015
  • The importance of social media for collaborative work -I like this video on collaborative intelligence as part of a new learning ecology - http://d396qusza40orc.cloudfront.net/elearning/recoded_videos%2Fcollaborative%20intelligence%205B.369ed890f63b11e39f31dd3c6c650ccf.webm - lindsay.julie lindsay.julie Feb 21, 2015

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative inquiry?

  • Once schools understand the power of a collaborative network to effect change, although more formal and with goals, the power of participatory giving and taking will help students and teachers delve deeper into the conversation, whether it be content, social, or personal.- kathyschrock kathyschrock Jan 30, 2015
  • I agree with Kathy...we talk the talk re: collaboration. Well, social networks/media are how people collaborate...everywhere but in school. Overcome our "Fear of Facebook" and there's enormous potential for teachers communicating with students, students communicating with other students, etc. - davidwdeeds davidwdeeds Feb 8, 2015
  • A culture of sharing. Right now some teachers do not want to share what they are doing, it is their intellectual property. But as we take from others, we are more inclined to give. - mrskeeler mrskeeler Feb 9, 2015 - davidwdeeds davidwdeeds Feb 15, 2015 - lindsay.julie lindsay.julie Feb 21, 2015 If we can balance the concepts of intellectual property with sharing, I think social networks give us the platform to really reach into our communities and affect lives in new ways.- alex.podchaski alex.podchaski Feb 23, 2015alex.podchaski
  • Yes, start with better education for teaching professionals - how to learn within an online network and connectivist approaches....but then the REAL impact has to be that learning is 'flattened'. The hierarchy as we have known it is gone - classrooms are now 'many' and virtual as well as face-to-face. Learning is ubiquitous and all learners must harness social media to connect and ultimately construct new meaning with others - it is happening in small corners already. - lindsay.julie lindsay.julie Feb 21, 2015

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

  • I'll be happy if I can overcome the classroom ban on cellphones in all classes by the end of this year. - davidwdeeds davidwdeeds Feb 8, 2015
  • The Flat Connections Global Project for Gr 9-12 students (http://flatconnectionsglobalproject.net/)
    uses a social network (Ning) to guild a learning community for each project - students and teachers interact, discuss, share ideas - the project BTW uses the Horizon Report as a main organising influence for global collaborative learning over a 12-week period. Current project February-June 2015 has 300+ students across 6 countries participating. - lindsay.julie lindsay.julie Feb 21, 2015
  • Interesting paper sharing research at HS level: Greenhow, C. & Robelia, B. (2009). Old communication, new literacies: Social network sites as social learning resources. Journal of Computer‐Mediated Communication, 14(4), 1130-1161. doi: 10.1111/j.1083-6101.2009.01484.x - lindsay.julie lindsay.julie Feb 21, 2015

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