A journey through social networks

As I have been searching the Internet and reading blogs, it has sparked ideas that may seem or are a stream of consciousness. Bear with my mental journey through social network.  My first stop was a site that shows some good examples and ideas of using social networking tools in the classroom.  http://www.edtech.neu.edu/teach/online_pedagogy/social_networking/  Since reading Lave and Wenger’s book, Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation as well as following Wenger’s work Communities of Practice, I am interested in how we can use his model in schools.  There is a lot of research and case studies on CoPs’ uses in business and professional development, but not in education.  I think that the Web 2.0 technologies may have just removed the barriers to fully using the concept of CoPs in the classroom.  Situated learning (the theory behind Communities of Practice) is putting learning in the context in which that learning would or does live.  I thought about how students could use LinkedIn to find mentors and participate where the real learning happens. 

My second stop was reading about data portability.  I watched a video by Chris Pidillo What is social networking? and it generated this idea: “If our students can be or are creators and publishers of content instead of consumers of content,  what happens to the content that they create on SNSs.  What happens to the content that I create for my class or that we collaboratively create together?  I find it ironic that the students are the creators but not the owners.  An interesting issue for copyright law.

Next stop.  A list of social networks in education http://socialnetworksined.wikispaces.com/ This site is useful because it gives you an idea of what kinds of social networks are being created.  My observation is that not many educational SNSs are being created by students which brings up another thought: “  What if students who were tired with the school system and who were tired of being bored, got together and collectively demanded a different way to be educated or a different way to learn.  Is this possible?  Does it already exist?  Are there students out there who are tired of de facto standard of school and education?  Clay Shirky in his book “Here Comes Everybody” describes this as collective action.  Groups coming together with a shared goal.  I wonder what would happen if a school of students or an entire system of schools acted in a collective effort to change our educational system.  A revolution!

As I meandered around the Web, I found 2 sites voted the two best social educational networks:

In reviewing these sites, I asked myself: ” What would drive my students to an educational SNS? ” Facebook is fine but I am not particularly draws to it.  My friends?  Usually when I engage with my friends, we are doing something even if it is only hanging out watching a video or talking.  I can see meeting my friends on YouTube to watch a video or on Flickr to see photos of their latest trip. I can meet my friends to talk about a job on LinkedIn.   I don’t know why I would meet them on Facebook.  It would be like my friends getting together and not doing anything (no talking, no interaction) If I was going to create a SNS for my classes,  what would be the draw. .  the social object(s)?  Flickr was not only created a world around photos by around the subject of photography.  Shirky uses the example of HDR photography, someone posted a photo where they used this technique.  Soon people where asking how they did it and the sharing and conversation started a trail of instruction.  How could I do that in my classroom?  Could I use the model of Flickr and YouTube in creating my own SNS? Do I have a student post a problem that they solved and explain how they did?  Do I have other students post the same problem and how they solved it and explain it?  In the process of these students sharing and conversing about the problem, they, in effect, are creating an instruction. 

A brief stop at an excellent 4 minute video that illustrates what it means to be a digital native. (You can also check out the article written by Mark Prensky on the same topic. Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants.)

 The video is called “A vision of Students today.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGCJ46vyR9o  It was created by a cultural anthropology class at Kansas State University. It is very thought provoking.  According to the video, if our students read may be 49% of their textbooks but they will read 2300 web pages and 1281 facebook profiles; if they will write only 42 pages but 500 pages of emails; if they spend 3 ½ hours online.  2 hours on cell phones. . . Why are we still using offline tools to teach?  To follow the discussion as it unfold go to  www.meditatedcultures.net/ksudigg.

Continuing on my web trip, I come across Social Networks- What is their strengths and weaknesse? and a 45 minute video from Clay Shirky about his book “Here Comes Everybody” Video from Clay Shirkey http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_0FgRKsqqU He mentions an interesting point:  Freedom of the press, freedom to gather and freedom of speech have all come to together.  What a convergence.  I wonder what interesting laws and case laws that will generated.   I also found on the site a  Slideshow on the Future of Social Networking. 

A final mental point on the journey.  Right after I graduated my friends told me that I have to “network” in order to find a good job.  To bad that this was about 20 years before LinkedIn. 

2 Responses to A journey through social networks

  1. Cheryl,

    This is a great blog post! You are quite thorough, and I liked the articles or videos that you read and shared. I’m also wondering what would happen if the students came in and demanded a different way of being taught -different from the traditional way that is. Thanks for your thought and questions.


  2. david says:

    “If our students can be or are creators and publishers of content instead of consumers of content, what happens to the content that they create on SNSs. What happens to the content that I create for my class or that we collaboratively create together? I find it ironic that the students are the creators but not the owners. An interesting issue for copyright law.”

    An interesting issue indeed, and one that is sure to be overturned as soon as someone with the resources and the moxy decides to challenge it in court.

    These stream of consciousness posts are great! Keep them coming…

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