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?

  • We see a daily use of social medias especially Facebook as a media for students and teachers to share information, helping each other and collaborate all in an educational context and in a very basic but efficient way. Students are discussion their homework. Teachers are helping their students. Some communication is formal and initiated by the school and some is informal especially among the students.- claus.gregersen claus.gregersen Feb 5, 2014
  • The advent of a truly interactive world-wide web in which every connected educator and student owns their own global network for learning has massive implications for K-12 schools. The structure of schools will need to evolve from one that prizes individual knowledge demonstrated on group assessment, to one that will increasingly prize collaborative knowledge demonstrated in individual assessment. - rob rob Feb 7, 2014
  • - giselle.santos giselle.santos Feb 7, 2014As more students play an active role in the production of learning content, we see mainstream social networks becoming official learning environments. As prosumers, students and teachers also become more critical of what they validate as significant learning experiences and are ready to share, edit and remix what they find applicable in their social/academic context. Schools have recognized that some patterns in social networking can be extremely purposeful in the classroom and that this kind of interaction can promote collaboration, independent learning and peer to peer coaching.
  • The more connected students and educators become, the more we move away from hierarchical learning and into collaboration, mentors, and apprentices for knowledge. This becomes the new way of seeking out expertise and learning directly from events as they occur. Mix and remix makes this even more interesting for different perspectives and opportunities.- alex.podchaski alex.podchaski Feb 8, 2014
  • Social media offers a lot of opportunities for teachers/admin (and students), connect with parents, communities and other classrooms. There are a plethora of ways to use the tools to connect students with content in creative ways. - Holly.Lu Holly.Lu Feb 9, 2014
  • One of the the things I'm most interested in are the social media mechanisms used by the social media sites. For example the activity feed that is used in the news feed on Facebook. Are there things we can learn from using a Activity feed in a school intranet or in learning management tools to increase the usefulness of the interface and improve the usability of our web tools. - GTDeYoung GTDeYoung Feb 9, 2014
  • Social networks are most commonly being harnessed by educators for largely informal PD but we are also seeing them used more for conversations with home, different platforms for shared dialogue in school and clustering PD within/across schools. As a technology, it certainly offers another flexible pathway through which to have learning conversations. It can close the home-school gap when used well, it can enable educators to engage in PD in ways that suit time/space/cost and it can complement other forms of learning. We have a growing network in NZ 12000+ educators who are beginning to see the value in connecting in this way. Social networks are also being used to help Māori learners/communities connect with their place of birth / tūranagwaewae when they have shifted away from cultural location. - karen.melhuish.spencer karen.melhuish.spencer Feb 9, 2014

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

  • I would add more on the ability of students to build and moderate their own networks online, and the need for schools to coach them on these skills and assess whether they are developing them. The "social capital" of the 21st Century still comes from many traditional sources, but increasingly now there's a social capital that stems from easily accessible online networks on people and information. - rob rob Feb 7, 2014 YES! - Holly.Lu Holly.Lu Feb 9, 2014
  • - giselle.santos giselle.santos Feb 7, 2014Digital Fluency and citizenship are key elements to ensure an unventful initiative. Students and teachers must be aware of issues like copyright, social roles, digital "tattoos" (I like to think that we don't carry digital footprints since footprints can be washed away, whereas tattoos cannot be removed without significant effort). Once a school decides that its time to take on a more social approach it must incorporate all the strategies that will allow them to develop a safe and engaging environment.
  • The whole concept of what it means to be connected to everyone, in a world where nothing is ever deleted, and how we operate as a digital society is left out of the description. This should be where digital citizenship stands out, not just the interesting aspects of connectivity because of graph theory. It is nice to measure how connected we are, but we need more than that. If we fail to teach the equivalent of civics in the digital world, we may end up with more problems than we could ever imaging.- alex.podchaski alex.podchaski Feb 8, 2014
  • Agree with the need for support re digital citizenship/literacies in terms of being able to access/use and navigate increasingly virtual social spaces. There is an interesting idea in that such networks are places in which young people are learning what it means to be a citizen, what it means to be part of a democracy (or not). The idea that such networks are becoming central to what it means to be a citizen highlight the value of taking a broad curriculum view on the use of such technologies. - karen.melhuish.spencer karen.melhuish.spencer Feb 9, 2014
  • Social network tools offer new ways to reimagine the way we offer and provide professional learning to educators - increasingly, we can provide multiple pathways to learning that model inclusive, flexible and sustainable modes over time/place. A way to ensure that leaners inc educators have agency and voice in the learning process. - karen.melhuish.spencer karen.melhuish.spencer Feb 9, 2014

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

  • The perspective mentioned above looks at connectivity as just something to be studied and measured for its own sake. What it really needs to be is the place where we start to discover what the digital divide really means in a digital world. It is about what people use the networks for, how creative they can be, and how they use their connections.- alex.podchaski alex.podchaski Feb 8, 2014
  • Inclusive flexible modes of learning become viable. - karen.melhuish.spencer karen.melhuish.spencer Feb 9, 2014
  • Raises the need to focus on supporting learners to use and navigate such spaces effectively and in ways that support positive social action. - karen.melhuish.spencer karen.melhuish.spencer Feb 9, 2014

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

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