What is Social Networking?

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. 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. 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 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 relationships actually are. They can lead us to connections we would otherwise have missed. Early social networking systems already recognize the value of connections and relationships, and as opportunities for virtual collaboration increase, we will rely more on trust-based networks that can interpret and evaluate the depth of a person’s social connections.

INSTRUCTIONS: Enter your responses to the questions below. This is most easily done by moving your cursor to the end of the last item and pressing RETURN to create a new bullet point. Please include URLs whenever you can (full URLs will automatically be turned into hyperlinks; please type them out rather than using the linking tools in the toolbar).

Please "sign" your contributions by marking with the code of 4 tildes (~) in a row so that we can follow up with you if we need additional information or leads to examples- this produces a signature when the page is updated, like this: - alan alan Jan 27, 2010

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

  • social networking is doubtlessly conducive to collaboration. However, though I don´t have a statistical study at hand I feel that most of what I have read so far states that students/young people use social networks to socialise and exchange leisure-oriented info (as mentioned above, music, events, communication) rather than to, say, compare homework or work on a study project - helga helga Sep 30, 2010
  • The tools that allow for visualization of social networks in the domain of educational practice are now ready for use, if a little rough around the edges. See, for instance, the University of Wollongong's SNAPP: http://research.uow.edu.au/learningnetworks/seeing/snapp/index.html - rubenrp rubenrp Oct 3, 2010
  • Often learning is most effective when it is social, when learners are explaining their reasoning to others, receiving feedback on their ideas, and picking up new ideas and skills from their fellow students. Social networking can help to make learning more social. For instance, MIT recently teamed up with OpenStudy so that learners could exchange questions about Open Courseware content and work collaboratively using OpenStudy's social learning technologies. Likewise, language learners are connecting with native speakers around the world by participating in language learning communities such as Livemocha. CUNY Academic Commons brings together researchers and instructors with common interests to participate in online communities around topics such as open education and ePortfolios.- lisaspiro lisaspiro
  • I believe this is already a strong component of any first-rate learning experience. Previous Horizon reports have offered examples such as the experiment at the campus in Texas where students were given mobile phones to encourage this level of intereraction, and the two-year online MLIS program I completed through the University of North Texas not only gave me hands on experience with social networking in education and workplace learning & performance, but gave me an opportunity to work with those on campus who were involved in weaving social networking into online education. This is one that we ignore only if we want to be left behind.- paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Oct 5, 2010
  • I agree with all of the above. I would add, though, that we are likely to see the greater collaborative uses and new learning opportunities emerging as a resulting of the interaction of social channels, rather than through specific usage or adaptation within a particular avenue, The ability to communication, access, and interact within diverse frameworks provides a wider variety in the levels of user experience within community or in relation to information. This provides for greater individual and collective expression. As we are seeing with the YouTube's challenge to Google in the search arena, there is a different attitude and expectation in the way data is accessed and purposed. - Dougdar Dougdar Oct 5, 2010
  • By using technologies to forge and maintain relationships both in education and professional life is a valuable skill and tool to use. Students already use hashtags and related linking technologies to collaborate on different projects and classes - JamieMadden JamieMadden Oct 5, 2010

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

  • Challenges include how to incentivize and reward participation in academic social networks and how to minimize griefing and other bad behavior. - lisaspiro lisaspiro
  • Have been involved in first-rate educational and training programs, and also have seen how discouraging this can be in settings where those who are implementing it have no clue as to how to use it effectively. The challenge is not to decide whether to use it, but how to use it effectively.- paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Oct 5, 2010
  • I think search and archival temporal information will be key to ensuring the knowledge captured isn't lost. - JamieMadden JamieMadden Oct 5, 2010 I agree. - KeeneH KeeneH Oct 17, 2010

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

  • the fact that social networks allow quick and direct access to a great number of people/like-minded people at one go is very convincing; however it is my impression that before having an impact the way (most) people use social networks will have to change (see my comment under 1) - helga helga Sep 30, 2010
  • Social networking can be part of an effective online learning environment that would also include (open) content and assessment mechanisms. Through social networking, learners can rapidly exchange ideas, participate in discussions, and build knowledge. Certainly people are motivated to participate in social networks--a glance around any campus computer lab reveals that many students are checking Facebook even as they do online research and work on assignments. The challenge is to harness the power of social networking for academic purposes.- lisaspiro lisaspiro Yes, I would agree too. Important to see how these networks can be harnessed for academic use. - KeeneH KeeneH Oct 17, 2010
  • Ditto! Furthermore, it is a magnificent expansion of what Frans Johansson writes about in "The Medicii Effect" in that it offers online opportunities for learners with various and varied backgrounds to come together, talk, come up with ideas that would not otherwise have beeen inspired, and then quickly disseminate those ideas online as well as onsite. (Johannson's work concentrates on onsite dissemination.) It also creates the possibility of expanding Oldenburg's concept of The Third Place in that we're no longer only seeing The Third Place as a physical meeting place.- paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Oct 5, 2010
  • Providing easier communication mediums for students and staff to interact are always going to enhance teaching, learning or creative expression. - JamieMadden JamieMadden Oct 5, 2010

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

Please share information about related projects in our Horizon Project sharing form.