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?

  • Well, it is already most relevant - for better or for worse. Students use e.g. Facebook for collaboration, and many teachers use it as an LMS. So it has come to stay. - ole ole Oct 9, 2013 - - helga helga Oct 20, 2013
  • add your response here We create online foreign language courses for high school and university aged students and note that many collaborative asssignments are being completed on Facebook. This is especially useful where timezones are concerned. - deborah.cooke deborah.cooke Oct 10, 2013

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

  • I wrote 'for better or for worse' above, for I do see obstacles at a very lowpractical level: When social networks are being used as an alternative or an add on to LMSs, it often causes confusion amongst students and teachers, and the communication as well as the information exchange get atomized. Besdies, using e.g. Facebook in class, often 'inspires' students to visit other pages (they do so, admittedly, but why support this?).
    This said, the use of e.g. Twitter in class (lectures) in a way that makes it possible to the students to ask questions to TAs present is most efficient.
    So there should be given advice as to an efficient use of the networks. - ole ole Oct 9, 2013 - - helga helga Oct 20, 2013
  • add your response here None- deborah.cooke deborah.cooke Oct 10, 2013

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on higher education?

  • add your response here I think Facebook and other social networking sites have a certain stigma assigned to them by educators. In the cases that I have observed, social networks like Facebook provide a very effective means for getting quick communication and work done on collaborative projects. - deborah.cooke deborah.cooke Oct 10, 2013
  • add your response here

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

  • add your response here In our own online foreign language courses, students use Google+ (stream) and FB to communicate with each other about the course and assignments. This was not specifically designated, but sprang up organically as the courses progressed. - deborah.cooke deborah.cooke Oct 10, 2013
  • add your response here

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