Posted by: jackjohnston | May 1, 2010

Threaded Discussion #4 Social Networking Chapters 2 & 16

Summary: Chapter 16
Our society today is marked by rapid technology change and the expansion and intensity of information science. This growing body of information and many advances in digital communications is changing methods of interactions between educators and students. As a result, “anytime, anywhere” learning has evolved as component of our educational institutions. Fully online courses and hybrid course are currently available for today’s students to take advantage of in higher education. Researchers have expressed concern however, that in both fully online courses and hybrid courses the focus tends to be centered on the instructor/corporation needs rather than the student’s needs. A necessity to an e-learning course is a sense of community. The development of Web 2.0 applications, specifically social networking, provides opportunities for enhancing and enriching e-learning courses to ensure greater learning.

Chapter 16, Using Social Networking to Enhance Sense of Community in E-Learning Courses, summarizes the development of sense of community and social networking, detailing the potential of social networking uses in education. It also examines the development and implications of a case study involving two graduate courses which integrate social networking to determine the effects on students’ learning.

Sense of community in courses is related to connectedness and learning. Using today’s variety of interactive technologies can facilitate a sense of community in online learning. Social networking is currently a mainstay in the lives of many students. Social networking, with its intense influence in communication and interaction today, suggests that educators harness this tool as a means for constructing richer learning environments. In addition, digital natives or generation Y, have a unique way of thinking, communicating, and learning which is far different from earlier generations. This active style of learning lends itself to the use social networking in education. The potentials in education that social networking offers includes: providing a casual place of learning; developing literacy and communication skills; providing effective communication and collaboration; enhancing students’ learning experience; building an online community; offering immersion in a foreign language environment; developing e-portfolios; learning about data protection and copyright issues; learning about self-representation and presentation; learning about e-safety rules; producing public showcases of works, events, or organization; forming communities of practice; organizing and scheduling educational timetables; and being where learners are (page 289).

Using a case study for investigation in two graduate courses, Dr. Yuen gathered information about social networking as an instructional approach in teaching and learning, as well as students’ perception of social networking on the sense of learning in e-learning. Ning social networking site was selected for use in the classes for the study. The participants involved included students enrolled in educational technology class from two universities. The construction of a questionnaire was implemented for evaluating the use of social networking in teaching and learning and for investigating social networking effectiveness on the sense of community among learners. The findings of the study concludes that the social networking approach to learning should be considered, designed, and implemented for e-learning courses. Dr. Yuen’s findings also indicated that further research investigate culture issues and the use of social networking in education.

Summary: Chapter 2
Chapter 2 reviews the use of social networking tools and examines the legal and ethical controversies associated with their usage in an educational setting. The authors initiate a social cognitive framework to explore and analyze ethical issues present. The following three ethical vulnerabilities were prevalent surrounding the use of social networking tools: medium provides magnified forum for humiliation or hazing; blurring of boundaries between private and public information on social networking sites; and medium merges individual professional and nonprofessional identities. An investigation of prevalent legal and social issues resulted in suggested responsible use. The authors created an intervention whereby preservice teachers read and think about real cases of educators using social networking, in hopes of improving students‘ critical thinking about ethical issues. In addition, the chapter includes a discussion of applying institutional codes of conduct to ethical dilemmas pertaining to social networking.

Social networking sites are extremely popular mediums for means of networking, connecting, and staying in touch among teenagers, college students, and young adults.
The online identity created when using these sites leaves a permanent digital footprint.
At the same time, social networking tools a gaining popularity among many innovative educational institutions seeking to enhance learning through this medium. However, the understanding of ethical issues surrounding this new tool of social networking in the classroom has been slow to develop. Consequently, there are some institutions that refuse to embrace the innovation of Web 2.0 learning tools because of risks involved.

Social networking sites were designed to bring together groups of people. Their capabilities has resulted in an interconnect-ability that without the web would be impossible. The social network continues to expand, along with the opportunities to view the users personal life. Consequently, problems can arise from personal disclosure, seemingly innocent at one stage of the users life, failing to consider future ramifications. Additionally, there are questions concerning appropriate responses by those in authority when faced with perceive misuse of social networking sites. This dilemma of concerning ethical conduct and personal disclosure has resulted in some school districts and universities warning faculty not to use social networking sites.

The authors of Chapter 2 apply a social moral framework with a legacy of describing non-moral features of complex interactions. An examination of student ethical decision making was conducted to assist students when engaged in online networks. Due to the very nature of online interactions, social cognitive domain theory is considered a useful framework to analyze issues that arise from social networking tools. The authors described in detail the three ethical vulnerabilities listed above of social networking usage. They suggest that in order for educators to enhance students’ learning with these promising Web 2.0 tools the fear of legal actions must be diminished
so that real innovation can occur. Suggestions for future studies focused on these issues are provided.

Reflection:
Social networking in education is an exciting innovative tool with promise for the teacher and learner and yet at the same time there are ethical issues that give reason for concern. I enjoyed reading and studying Chapter 16, but I cannot say the same about Chapter 2. It is hard to be innovative and excited about teaching when fear is involved.

The implications from reading Chapter 2 are for teachers to be mindful when using social networking in the classroom. Recently, I was given permission to create a Ning account for the teachers at my school. As a result of budget cuts, my school is closing and the gifted teachers are being reassigned to individual elementary schools throughout the county. My thinking is that with a social networking site like Ning, we could continue to collaborate, share knowledge, and learn from each other, even with the new distance involved. My hope is that communication will actually improve from what it is now at our one location as a result of using Ning. After reading Chapter 2, it was brought to mind the importance of remembering how easily some people can take things out of context to create problems. I also want to investigate my school district’s policy concerning these ethical issues. Interestingly, today’s headline in the Laurel Leader Call was “Fired WJ teacher likely to hear fate Monday.” The high school history teacher contends that perhaps one of the biggest factors in his firing is his involvement with the T.E.A. Party Movement. According to the LLC, he states, “I do have a Web site for students to visit assignments and a couple of students posted something there about our president. I was told it was inappropriate and should be removed. I had nothing to do with that. It was the students sharing their thoughts and ideas. What happened to freedom of speech?”
I cannot imagine what the future holds concerning the ethical issues involved when using social networking site to promote learning. I do agree with the idea presented in both chapters, that we would be doing our students a great disservice, if we do not embrace these rich media tools to create a more appropriate learning environment for today’s students.

After reading Chapter 16, I have a better understanding of the implications for using social networking tools in education. The previous knowledge that I had about social networking sites in education was from reading the lecture notes on our class Ning site and the personal experience using our IT780 Ning site. I’m not sure if this is the place to comment on my experience with our class site, but it has been a positive learning experience as suggested in Chapter 16. Sense of community as it relates to learning was a new discovery for me. It is exciting to learn how adjustments are being made based on the research to cater to the learning needs of digital natives. I enjoy learning about the new technologies and ways to implement them for great learner outcomes.

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Responses

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