March 27, 2008 at 6:29 pm (social networking)
LibraryThing.org and Shelfari are websites dedicated to books. If someone is so inclined they could keep track of the books they read, would like to read or books they own and tag, annotate, share or comment. In a way, it is a way of bookmarking what you have read, want to read, own or any combination of the three. It is also a way to share and discuss and collaborate with like-minded individuals. Is it simply social bookmarking? Or does it also have elements of social networking as well? Or is a hybrid? I can’t decide so I will just call it LibraryThing! Incidentally, LibraryThing now links with Google Books (LibraryThing Blog, March 13, 2008)
My test search was for Stephanie Meyer as her Twilight series is very popular right now. I also searched Gordon Korman who is also a favorite. When I “stopped by” I felt like I was dropping in on a book club discussion! This could replace a hand written student reading log or even a reading response journal and would help students connect to others reading the same book, suggest titles and share what they are reading with a wider audience outside of school which could include family, friends and peers from near and far.
March 27, 2008 at 6:28 pm (social networking)
How are social network sites being used in schools, in teaching and in learning? Here are a few of my favorite examples that I came across that I chose to highlight.
For Libraries, Librarians and Library Users
YALSA has a whole page dedicated to Web 2.0 & Libraries, the first link of which is examples of libraries using social networking technologies to connect with teens including blogs, MySpace, Flickr, podcasts, Del.icio.us and YouTube. Despite its public libraries focus it does provide ideas and a place to start.
Yale University Science Libraries maintains a page that connects students via Facebook, messaging, Flickr, Twitter and a blog. I think this one does a good job of exemplifying what is possible.
Robin the Teen Librarian maintains a MySpaceprofile. Such authors as Tanya Lee Stone, Sonya Sones, Rachel Cohn, Stephanie Hale and others have dropped in and commented. What a way to get kids excited about reading, having the authors of the books you are suggesting to them comment on YourSpace. I know many students who would be very excited if it was my page the authors were popping in on.
Youth Adult Library Services Association (yalsa) created Teens & Social Networking in School and Public Libraries: A Toolkit for Librarians & Library Workers (pdf), updated and expanded March 2007. Some of my favorite ideas that it outlines are
A student created MySpace account as an author study – to gather information and enter it into the profile (an updated version of a hockey card?). The blog function could be used to respond to reading or analyze poems. Others could comment and join in the discussion.
When schools and libraries help teens use social networking tools safely and smartly, they are also helping teens to: develop boundaries and expectations, use the tools in a way that demonstrates a commitment to learning, develop social and cultural competence and empower them
Have teens collaborate in building a library MySpace – having discussions about how to decide whether or not to accept someone as a friend, who will be responsible for different parts
The reading and writing connection; in order to participate you must do both (this was also mentioned at quoteflections, “Before email most people never wrote anything. Now most do, through email, social networking sites….The written medium has enjoyed exponential growth.”
yalsa also created 30 Positive Uses of Social Networking (pdf). This includes ideas for social software (blogs, wikis, podcasts) as well as social network sites like MySpace. One of my favorite lines in it is,
“How effective are libraries going to be to empower teens in making good online choices if the tools to do so can’t be used, accessed, or played with in a library” (p. 4).
Some of the benefits of MySpace for libraries is visual appeal and ease of use because knowledge of HTML is not required. “Although kids do not look at our website, they DO look at our MySpace.”
These are my top picks from 30 Positive Uses of Social Networking:
“Put something on there that is interesting to them, and ask them to help you do it….every six months, they create a new profile (p. 5).”
“Have middle or high school students create a MySpace style page for an artist, writer, scientist, etc.
What would Honest Abe’s page look like?
Who would be in his friends list?
What kind of music was popular in his era?
What were his interests?
What would his blog of daily life look like?
And, of course, sources for all info would have to be cited, and music and photos and quotes would have to be used in accordance with fair use…
Such an assignment would meet our teens where they are and create an opportunity to discuss
‘what does it mean to have someone on your friends list?’
‘how does one obtain permission to add a song or photo?’ (p. 6).”
I believe these quotes provide an appropriate summation:
“Social networking software that promotes collaboration has special significance in the school setting. Students who learn collaboration skills in school are likely to be more valuable contributors to today’s workplace, which generally values collaboration and teamwork” (p. 17).”[S]ocial networking is intrinsically connected to content creation….Social networking breeds ideas and ideas breed innovation” (p. 19).
Mixxer is a free educational community for language learners to find a language partner for language exchange. The language partner is someone who speaks the language you study as their native language and is studying your native language. The partners then meet online to help each other practice and learn a foreign language. I learned about this one through Educause. I would worry about using this with younger students but can see the benefits for older students.
YALSA has created a one page brochure (pdf) geared towards teens that discusses what social networking is, some adult assumptions and how to participate safely. I thought it gave a good student-friendly general overview of the social software in general and how it relates to social networking.
Julie Lindsay suggests the advertisement free Ning for student collaboration such as the flat classroom Ning. I can’t believe how collaboration, discussion and reflection are combined using a variety of media (text, video) representing process and product. Lindsay also pointed out the Horizon Project Ning – “a networking space for teachers and students of the Horizon Project.” This takes me back to what Richardson said when I first started exploring social networking. We need to teach the literacies of networking, of collaborating and contributing and ask thought provoking questions. What better way to do it than to participate in it yourself and be a role model for positive and productive social networking that contributes to life-long learning.
Classroom 2.0 dubs itself as “the social networking site for those interested in Web 2.0 and collaborative technologies in education.” For example, there is a group dedicated to Educon 2.0. Up to this point, I’ve seen limited potential for a social network site, such as Facebook, to provide collegial connections. For me it is used for personal rather than professional networking. Classroom 2.0 would be a way for a one-person department or someone with out-of-the-box thinking to engage in discussion with like-minded individuals. This would be an instance where you could be “meeting” individuals whose blogs you follow or meeting educators from across the continent and around the world. I see this one having lots of potential, particularly if attending a conference. If an online space such is this is established before the conference, one could meet the participants and presenters, pose questions before hand, post to the social network in real time and continue the conversation after.
I have see Elgg come up in several places. It is “an open source social platform based on choices, flexibility and openness: a system that firmly places individuals at the centre of their activities. Your users have the freedom to incorporate all their favorite tools within one environment and showcase their content with as many or as few people as they choose, all within a social networking site that you control.” What I really wanted to see was an example in action. Much to my delight, there was a Canadian example based in Ontario, Communi-IT. I plan to come back to this one and explore it more. I like how it combines social software tools such as blogs and wikis into the elgg social network site.
March 27, 2008 at 6:28 pm (social networking)
In the Horizon Report 2007, it identifies the power of social network websites.
The websites that draw people back again and again are those that connect them with friends, colleagues, or even total strangers who have a shared interest. Social networking may represent a key way to increase student access to and participation in course activities. It is more than just a friends list; truly engaging social networking offers an opportunity to contribute, share, communicate and collaborate [my emphasis].
I can’t help but think about the last statement in the context of my constructivist exploration of these social software tools. Through my blog, and addition of tagged social bookmarks to my Furl account, I am contributing and sharing, commenting on my blog comments and collaborating via class wikis.
In its more detailed discussion the Horizon Report points out that
… social networking sites facilitate introduction and communicaton by providing a space for people to connect around a topic of common interest. These sites are fundamentally about community–communities of practice as well as social communities [my emphasis again].
Rather than limiting social networking to designated social network sites, I would argue that my blog reader allows me to follow the edublogger and edtech community, learning about practices that are shared and discussed. I also contribute and discuss via my blog.
Undoubtedly the most pervasive aspect of Web 2.0, social networking is all about making connections and bringing people together. Conversations that take place in social networking contexts are inherently social, and often revolve around shared activities and interests. The heart of social networking is fostering the kinds of deep connections that occur when common pursuits are shared and discussed.
I can’t help but relate this to my most recent blog comment where Bill Ferriter speaks very elequently about the power of making these social networking connections around shared activities and interests (in this case it began with VoiceThread), challenging each others notions and encouraging revision and/or refinement of ideas. The growth of my edtech social networking is a result of contributing my thoughts, ideas and reflections to the knowledge pool for others to use and discuss. As Julie Lindsay points out, creations or outputs of what she refers to as Global Collaboration 3.0 include input from from others.
The Horizon Report 2007 also suggests that
Students are tremendously interested in social networking sites because of the community, the content, and the activities they can do there. They can share information about themselves, find out what their peers think about topics of interest to them, share music and playlists, and exchange messages with their friends. Two of the best-known examples, MySpace and Facebook, have thousands of members who connect daily or hourly….These sites are frequently customizable and user-controlled….
Researchers note that online spaces…give students a safe place to gather….Not all social networking sites are aimed at students….LinkedIn is designed for professionals, and Flickr is used by people of all ages….Sites like these, though popular, are not the driving force behind the adoption of social networking education….It is the intense interest shown by students that is bringing social networking into academia.
Social networking is already second nature to many students; our challenge is to apply it to education. Social networking sites not only attract people but also hold their attention, impel them to contribute, and bring them back time and again–all desireable qualities for educational materials.
The Horizon Report 2008 identifies social operating systems as “the essential ingredient of next generation social networking.”
[T]hey will base the organization of the network around people, rather than around content. This simple conceptual shift promises profound implications for academy, and for the ways in which we think about knowledge and learning. Social operating systems will support whole new categories of applications that weave through the implicit connections and clues we leave everywhere as we go about our lives, and use them to organize our work and our thinking around the people we know.
Social networking systems have led us to a new understanding of how people connect. Relationships are the currency of these systems, but we are only beginning to realize how valuable a currency they truly are. The next generation of social networking sytems–social operating systems–will change the way we search for, work with, and understand information by placing people at the center of the network. The first social operating system tools, only just emerging now, understand who we know, how we know them, and how deep our relationshops actually are. They can lead us to connections we would otherwise have missed. As they develp further, these tools will transform the academy in sigificant ways we can only begin to imagine.
More simply put, Charles Hudson describes the future or social networking in three steps. “First, ‘Friending up’ your network was a necessary evil….Phase II, which is I think where we are today, is really about adding some context to the nature of the relationships” in sites like Facebook. The last phase will be machine driven, identifying communication patterns through passive profiling, analyzing who you email, how often and where there are located, to name one example.
Do I think this is possible? In looking at past Horizon Reports, they are fairly accurate in anticipating what the up and coming technology will be. In looking at some of the mashups that are already available incorporating Google Earth, I think that analysis of our interactions is probably already happening but we as the users are not made explicitly aware of it as those who mine that data.
March 27, 2008 at 6:27 pm (social networking)
Part of the benefit for me of ubiquitous computing and wi-fi internet is “hitchiking” with David Warlick as he live blogs (also called mobile blogging or moblogging) while at Educon 2.0, attending a session that referred to a National School Boards Association study Creating & Connecting//Research and Guidelines on Online Social–and Educational–Networking (pdf). Of course, I checked it out. These are some of the points that stood out for me.
9-17-year olds spend almost as much time using social networking services & websites as watching TV
60% talk about education topics online; 50% talk specifically about school work
21% post comments on message boards everyday; 41% once per week
This actually left me with a number of questions:
Aren’t they on the computer and watching TV simultaneously? I thought they were multi-tasking? (or is it, as Jenn mentioned early in the course, continuous partial attention, a term coined by Linda Stone, a former Microsoft VP, found in Social Machines)
The use of 28 social networking technologies were surveyed – Wow! This is a really broad definition of social networking, one that David Warlick prefers as it is far less limiting than the likes of Facebook. What were the 28 different social networking technologies surveyed?
Did the 50 or 60% who talked about education online do so exclusively? I doubt it. They’re multi-tasking.
Of those who posted messages, what tool were they using – blogs, wikis, IM, etc?
Most interesting to me was the discussion surrounding non-conformists
[S]tudents who step outside of online safety and behavior rules–are on the cutting edge of social networking, with online behaviors and skills that indicate leadership among their peers. About one in five (22%) of all students…and one in three teens (31%), are nonconformists, students who report breaking one or more online safety or behavior rules, such as inappropriate language, posting inappropriate pictures, sharing personal information with strangers or pretending to be someone they are not.
Nonconformists are significantly heavier users of social networking sites than other students, participating in every single type of social networking activity surveyed (28 in all) significantly more frequently than other students both at home and at school–which likely means that they break school rules to do so.
I can’t help but think of non-conformists as early adopters instead of in the negative rule-breaker sense identified above. Are they considered to be non-conformists because they are following the old rules of the digital immigrants? Like the teachers who find and download YouTube videos to memory sticks and bring them to class to initiate discussion, is that the kind of rule-breaking that we are talking about? I can’t help but think of one of the slides in one of Valenza’s PowerPoints where she says “We are working ahead of the rules.”
If we’re talking about some of the more risky online behaviors of sharing personal information or images, those are topics that need to be addressed in school so that students understand online safety. Although, my feeling from this report and from Frontline’s Growing Up Online, students are more internet wise and savvy than they used to be. I could be wrong in this assumption.
Most interesting to me was this part:
These students seem to have an extraordinary set of traditional and 21st century skills, including communication, creativity, collaboration and leadership skills and technology proficiency. Yet they are significantly more likely than other students to have lower grades, which they report as “a mix of Bs and Cs” or lower, than other students.
This leads to the conclusion that:
“…schools need to find ways to engage nonconformists in more creative activities for academic learning.”
Are the grades of the non-conformists lower because their skills are not valued? Not assessed? Not understood? All three combined? Constructivist, student-centred, technology infused, inquiry based learning can serve to engage all students including non-conformists.
Back at his blog, Warlick (Jan. 27) identifies some of the questions being asked in the conversation surrounding the National School Boards Association Creating and Connecting document, social networks and social networking:
What are social networks and social networking?
Do we need to integrate social networks(ing) into our classes?
Do we need to create assignments or work for out students that demands them to use social networking?
How do we bring in the technology and protect kids?
The Horizon Report 2007 answers some of these questions.
March 27, 2008 at 6:27 pm (social networking)
I actually started exploring social networking back in the middle of January as an online debate was taking place at The Economist and a flurry of blog posts were coming across my Bloglines related to social networking within the first week I started using it. This is what I wrote then…
I would have never thought before a week ago that I would be spending Saturday evening catching up on my blog reading through Bloglines.
And there is an interesting conversation unfolding related to social networking. This particular discussion started at the Economist website in the fall. Will Richardson got in on the discussion on his blog in response to danah boyd’s post. Then, David Warlick made this post, in it referring to one of his previous posts.
Even better, Will Richardson, Joyce Valenza, David Jakes (whom I discovered yesterday) and others are exploring this topic and others right now at Educon 2.0.
Now that I know a bit about what web 2.0 tools are (Flickr, video sharing, podcasts, virtual libraries, wikis, VoiceThread), what they have to offer and how they relate to social networking.
But, I still want to take it back to where I started following the social networking debate. In discussing platform, David Warlick (Jan. 13) sees three areas, e-portfolios, course management systems and social networks, overlapping like a Venn diagram. In the overlap, he sees student-centred, technology infused, constructivist, inquiry-based learning happening as a matter of course rather than by design.
Will Richardson (Jan. 16) says we must acknowledge the importance of Facebook in the lives of our students. We can’t pretend it doesn’t exist. With this I agree whole-heartedly. To use a cliche, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. And so I did last summer or fall – I can’t remember exactly. I had been hearing about Facebook repeatedly on CBC radio. I had visited the homepage on several occasions but couldn’t find the nerve to sign up. One day, I just decided to jump in. Out of my circle of friends, I was first to join. They joined because I invited them. My circle of friends has remained very small because I don’t use the word “friends” lightly, like some of the requests that I have received from former students who have amassed lists of over 500 “friends.” As boyd suggests, the term “friend” can be misleading as the use of the word does not necessarily mean a friendship.
Richardson says this doesn’t mean that we teach with sites like Facebook. Instead, we need to teach the literacies of networking, the “ability to create and find and connect the dots.” With this I also agree. He more explicity says,
“Social networks as they are currently defined and delivered aren’t for schools. But using social tools to teach our students to build their own network, networks that go beyond simply socializing with people they already know has to be.”
I readily admit that I don’t know enough about the use of Facebook in schools to be able to decide one way or the other. In some of my other classes, spouses of my peers were using Facebook to connect with high school students. I do agree with Richardson that we need to start using social networking tools such as wikis and blogs; one could be used to scaffold to the other in helping students build those connections based on curricular content rather than just socializing.
Will Richardson pointed me to a post by danah boyd (Jan. 15), one he said he read four times and was probably the most important one he’d read so far this year. While she stipulates the importance of social network sites (SNSs) because they allow students to congregate and socialize in a way that they aren’t able to do publically in an unsupervised fashion, on the flip side,
“SNSs do not make youth engaged educationally; they allow educationally-motivated youth with a structure to engage educationally.”
“[T]heir value is about the kinds of informal social learning that is required for maturation – understanding community, learning [to] communicate with others, working through status games, building and maintaining friendships, working through personal values, etc. All too often we underestimate these processes because, traditionally, they happened so naturally.”
I wonder what has happened that kids don’t get together to socialize outside of school? Or at least not as much as they used to? This is something that I first questioned at Katie and Cindy’s getyourgameon wiki where I said,
I remember a friend telling me about how their circle of friends used to play outside for hours and hours. Now the parks are empty as kids retreat to the their game consoles attached to their TV or computer gaming. Which caused which? Did the decrease in safety force kids inside or did the games draw them in?
Granted, kids don’t hang out at the roller rink, burger joints (and haven’t for a really long time) and seem to spend less and less time at the mall (which to me seem to be increasingly scary places) or in arcades (I never realized that the ones at the mall even closed until now!), but they do get together in other places and spaces, both online and off. As boyd points out, informal online socializing does have its place and is valuable. I also agree that it is the students who are motivated to do well in school who will use the online version of their offline social network to multi-task and seek out homework help from friends while IMing, using the pre-established network to assist them with school work. Yes, they connect with the people in their classes, they expand their “friends” lists, a form of status in itself (boyd, 2007) but not for the sole purpose of discussing the next essay topic. I don’t see, and can’t see, students independently creating a social network on Facebook to help them with their school work…at least not yet.
Back to David Warlick (Jan. 17), who says, what I believe to be, two important things:
“There is a difference (right now) between social networks (or social network sites), and social networking. In my mind, a social network is a single site with features that facilitate social experiences. Social networking, on the other hand, is what is done in social networks, but can also be done with smaller and personally combined tools, such as blogs, wikis, podcasting, aggregators, twitter, etc. Neither (at this time) fully encompasses the other.” [A visual of this is available at his blog.]
“Facebook is an example of a social network site. They are not synonymous. What frustrates me about Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn, is that their feature sets are way [too] limiting. I think a social network has enormous potential, especially to education. But not in its current form. I’m afraid that if we are limiting our notions of social networks to what’s already been developed in FB, MS, and even Ning, and dismiss them as a result, then we may just miss a wonderful opportunity.”
I like Warlick’s simple explanation of the distinction between social networking and a social network or a social network site such as Facebook or MySpace, both of which I have accounts.
When I first started using Facebook, I found it much more addicting, particularly for the status updates, a service that is replicated by Twitter. Now, I rarely check in. Part of what has turned me off is
the lack of privacy controls (I thought I had set my profile to private only to find out that it was public)
the fact that it is a money making scheme of which I am the target of an obscene amount of advertising (no, I don’t want to send someone a $1 virtual baby gift)
the disparity between what my friends and I believe to be appropriate content (boyd put it this way: “privacy options offered by SNSs do not provide users with the flexibility they need to handle conflicts with Friends who have different conceptions of privacy”
all the gimmick time wasters – I have 13 pending requests right now including snowman, acquarium, jackpot and movie gift. Who has time for these things?!
I signed up for a MySpace account the same week I set up my blog. It never hooked me. I never felt compelled to fill in yet another profile, “Yet Another Social Networking Service” (YASNS), a term coined by Clay Shirky (boyd, 2007). After creating only one profile at Facebook, I was already a victim of “consumer fatigue.” I was burned out recreating my social life on another new network.
Because I was accustomed to the Facebook interface, I didn’t find MySpace user friendly and couldn’t figure out the privacy controls so that my birthdate/sign didn’t appear on my profile. This frustrated me. If it’s not easy to use I’m not interested in using it. However, having said that, there are many users and maybe I just didn’t give it a chance. I did learn of a C.S. Lewis widget for the new Prince Caspian movie, one that I wasn’t able to add to my blog but easily added to MySpace.
Will Richardson commented on Warlick’s two points saying,
“SNSs are being used differently as we get older, that the exclusively social use of SNS occurs in adolescents.”
From my own observations of lurking while my “friends” message back and forth in the public Facebook space, all I have seen is the social side of Facebook.
Over at Ewan McIntosh’s blog (Jan 17), he elaborates on his proponent position in The Economist Debate Series,
“social tools without any networks to use them with is like turning up to a party where no-one else was invited….The tools need a network which needs the user to know how to network in the first place.”
McIntosh goes on to say whether you choose one social network like Facebook or a combination of blog and reader (which he refers to as social media at large or what I have referred to in a previous post as social software which falls under the umbrella of social computing – see Words of Wiki) it doesn’t matter because they get you to the same end result.
I disagree. My use of a combination of social media, as McIntosh calls it, which Warlick describes using as well – my blog, Bloglines, searches of the social bookmarking sites Furl and del.icio.us, collaboration on a wiki – is much more beneficial to my own learning, more fruitful academically and more engaging for me than any Facebook discussion I have ever had. Is that just because the right people aren’t my “friends” in Facebook? Even if they were, as Warlick mentioned, the combination of smaller tools give the user options which simply are not available in Facebook. I have joined the Facebook groups CANSCAIP, Young Alberta Book Society and Librarians and Web 2.0 but their membership is relatively small and there isn’t a space to contemplate ideas extensively like with a blog or collaborate like in a wiki. The social part of using the combination of tools that I do occurs when I receive blog comments that spur my thinking and lead me to respond, negotiate wiki content or share or benefit from tagged bookmarks.
In the end, Warlick, boyd, Richarson and McIntosh are all in agreement, as am I, that the use of technology must be student centred and not technology centred, something that Michael Bugeja, who argued for the opposition in The Economist debate, doesn’t see as possible.
boyd (Jan. 18) did delve more into the terminology than Warlick, referring to an article co-authored with Nicole Ellison where they define social networks as:
web-based services that allow individuals to
- construct a public or semi-public profie within a bounded system
- articulate a list of other uses with whom they share a connection, and
- view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others with the system. The name and nomenclature of these connections may vary from site to site.
While we use the term “social network site” to describe this phenomenon, the term “social networking sites” also appears in public discourse, and the two terms are often used interchangeably. We choose not to employ the term “networking” for two reasons: emphasis and scope. “Networking” emphasizes relationship initiation, often between strangers. While networking is possible on these sites, it is not the primary practice….
What makes social network sites unique is not that they allow individuals to meet strangers, but rather they enable users to articulate and make visible their social networks.
It has been my experience that social network sites support offline networks by making them visible. My Facebook “friends” do not particpate in it for the purposes of making new friends. (In fact, one person I know had to be out right rude to someone who wouldn’t leave her alone.) Rather, Facebook, as a social network in boyd’s and Warlick’s definition of the term, is a way to “bridge” weak ties with a friend of a friend for example, “bond” already close relationships between friends and family, and “maintain social capital” with peers from high school, former colleagues or in other locales after a move or meeting on a vacation (Ellison, Steinfield and Lampe, 2007). Even though I socialize on a personal level with former colleagues through Facebook, we engage in professional dialogue over email, over the phone and in person.
For the purpose of this blog theme, I will explore social networks focusing on MySpace, and social networking, social networking tools and social computing through a critical lens of a junior high school and junior high library setting.
January 20, 2008 at 8:19 pm (social networking)
I was the first among my circle of friends to sign up for Facebook. I did so after hearing the fuss about it on the news on CBC radio one morning. I invited my friends to join and so they did. I have a friend who uses the MSN Spaces for social networking which I have used but only to post photos. I know that some students that I teach use Tagged. For the purposes of this class I signed up for a MySpace account. I thought I would stick to something that is more well known and has taken some heat in the media as well. I wanted to learn about it first hand.