Sunday, March 25, 2012

Social Networking

Social networking is embedded into our society by means of communication, entertainment, politics and education. The people of the United States are second in internet usage at 78.2% and are only out done by the people of the United Kingdom at 82% ( People have become so accustom to having instant access to information and real time communication with friends, family and peers that even commercials are being made with reference to “that was so 10 minutes ago”. The popularity of social networks and the desire to understand the pros and cons, and the impact of our technology usage lead me to read about social networking. I am very interested in looking at the formation and usage of social networks for educators and students. The articles I read were Examining Social Software in Teacher Education, PEW Internet Project Data Memo PEW / INTERNET and National Study Ranks City Governments' Use of Social Media, from Science Daily, March 22, 2012.
Richard Ferdig (2007) from the University of Florida takes a look the usage of social software and suggests that with proper usage social media can be advantageous to learning; however, without constraints social software can be the downfall for some teachers and classrooms. Ferdig explains there are four theoretical concepts to adhere to when using social software. The first concept of the constructivist theory is to set the learning objective at the high end of the students “Zone of Proximal Development” (Ferdig, 2007).  The software should then be able to scaffold the student to higher learning. The second concept is having active participation from the learner. The learner who is actively engaged in the learning will find the process more enjoyable. This goes hand-in hand with Carl Rogers’s experimental learning theory of engaged learning and student driven curriculum. The third theory is for students to produce artifacts and generate feedback and reflection from the artifacts. It is through the feedback from other students that new ideas and concepts are learned by students (Ferdig, 2007). Ferdig explains that blogs is an excellent means of feedback. The fourth concept is “learning occurs through centripetal participation in the learning curriculum of the ambient community” (Ferdig, 2007).
Ferdig goes on to say that although we have various tools for social networking such as blogs, wikis and social bookmarks, email is still a very good tool for communication. Also as technology is moving much faster and faster, the use of hand held devices is becoming the technology of choice among many people. The important factor to keep in mind for students is to have enough instruction/engagement to keep the student on task. Otherwise, the student will find a way to fill the time using technology and not necessarily curriculum driven usage. Ferdig also mentions other articles addressing social networking and gaming.
            The PEW Internet Project Data Memo by Amanda Lenhart reported on data showing the percentage of various uses of the internet in 2008.  Some the information includes that 35% of adult Americans use social networks compared to 65% of teens. The breakdown of social networks also is arranged by age showing the largest group of adults using social networking is 18-24 at 75% and the lowest is over 65 at 7%. In 2008 most of the users went to; however, Facebook is now the most used social network among young and old alike (March 2012,  In 2008 the reasons for using social network was 51% to 43% with the larger percentage for personal use verse professional (Lenhart, 2009). Today people are still using social networking for personal reasons; however, the reasons are varies from current communication and finding old classmates, to sharing current events and professional uses. Also, the age of Americans using social networking is rising.
            Lenhart goes on to report the demographics of age, race, sex, annual household income, education and locale (urban, suburban and rural) and the usage of social networks. The report compares Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn, the use of a profile or deleted profile and political likeness and differences.  The data was collected from telephone surveys of 47 questions including the questions about the different social networking sites the user used, how often the user was on a social network and why the profile was used or deleted. The data from this report was collected between April 8 to May 11 2008 from 2,251 adults 18 and older and from November 19 to December 20, 2008 from 2253 Americans including 1650 internet users. The report had a 2-3 point margin of error.
            The last article is from Science Daily, March 12, 2012, National Study Ranks City Governments' Use of Social Media. Karen Mossberger and YonghongWu, both administrative graduate students, from University of Illinois collected data from 75 of the U.S. largest cities to determine the capabilities of civilian use of online communications. Seattle and New York ranked first and second respectively in the innovation and use of technology for their populations. Chicago, San Diego and Minneapolis tied for 17th, while Toledo ranked last of the 75 (Science Daily, 2012). Mossberger and Wu also found the use of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube were most commonly used to by civilians. The percentage of cities using Twitter increase from 25% to 87% since 2009, Facebook increase by 13% and YouTube by 16% (Science Daily, 2012). There are twelve cities using open portals, which allow users access to city statistics such as crime, building permits, vacant properties and other matters. Seattle is trying a software that allows the users to make suggestions and also for others to comment on the suggestions. You can find the complete report at
            As an educator the information from these articles could be used in various methods. The first article Examining Social Software in Teacher Education gives an outline of methodology to obtain student learning when using social networking. To set the scene for learning the educator must know where the student is currently and set goals at the high end of the ZPD so the learner can achieve at the highest level. The educator must also remember to set artifact goals to show learning and encourage feedback to help develop new ideas. The second and third articles were basically statistical data of social networking. In a high school setting this information may be helpful in a business class and to help students develop problems for research. I see the second and third articles more useful at the undergrad or graduate level while doing research.  
Ferdig, R. (2007). Editorial: Examining Social Software in Teacher Education. Journal of Technology & Teacher Education, pp. 5,10.
Lenhart, A. (2009). Adult and social networking sites. Retrieved January 9, 2010, from
Science Daily, March 12, 2012, National Study Ranks City Governments' Use of Social Media

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Experimental Learning

The theory I am looking at is experimental learning by Carl Rogers. I think it is valuable to know first that Carl Rogers felt that people were basically good (Boeree,C.) and trust was essential between the client/therapist and learner/teacher ( .  Rogers believed a teacher did not teach another person; instead, a teacher was a facilitator to aid in engaging the learner. A theory Rogers developed was the actualizing tendency (Boeree,C.), which simply states that people will achieve to their fullest potential. Rogers did not just apply this theory to humans, but to all living things. Rogers explained that people and all living when left to choose without outside or environmental influence will do what is best for self; however, humans and all living things are influenced by environmental and societal factors.
Taking a closer look at actualization or self-values verses societal influences explains further Rogers’ ideas of the learner/client knows what is best for self. First the living thing experiences organismic valuing, or knowing what is good or bad because of senses and trusting our senses. Next is positive regard, which is the instinctive need for love, affection and affirmation. Positive self-regard  follows knowing one’s self-worth, having self-esteem and a positive self-image. Rogers then explains that because we do not live in a vacuum, but instead are surrounded by various values and opinions we become tainted and begin to doubt our self-worth and capabilities. Humans look for acceptance and think our positive regard and  positive self-regard are conditional depending on others values. This is the cause for the difference of real-self forming from actualization (individual values) and ideal-self forming society values. Rogers explained the gap of real-self and ideal-self is called incongruity. The further we are from where or what society expects from us the more incongruity, which means more suffering.

Rogers’ theory also stated it was essential for the learner to have an interpersonal relationship with the teacher.  The development of the interpersonal relationship needed to have three basic  characteristics. First, the teacher needs to be “real” or sincere (what you see is what you get). Second, are prizing, acceptance and trust, which say to the learner that his or her opinion and feelings are acknowledged and important. Also the learner needs to feel the teacher will hold the feelings confidential and trust in the capabilities of the learner. The third  characteristic is empathic understanding. Here the teacher has an understanding of the learner’s feelings about education and the process of education (

Carl Rogers’ theories of client-centered therapy and experimental learning in education support the current trend in education of making learning relevant to the learner through guided facilitation of projects. As educators we are faced with the challenge of engaging students and taking ownership for their learning, whether in a traditional classroom or web-based instruction. However, educators in the traditional classroom would have an easier time of developing a relationship with the learner because they can look at the learner, read body language and have the opportunity to see reactions to various teaching strategies. Educators taking the challenge of web-based instruction need to develop lessons that will engage learners without any personal contact. This can be done by offering a variety of choices to accomplish the same objective. Also the instructor needs to be available to give feedback very quickly. I feel the instructor needs to be very flexible and accepting of the different levels of experience. The one issue educators of web-based instruction do not have to deal with is the influence from the classroom environment. Students are allowed to be their real-self rather than the ideal-self. In Rogers theory that would allow the learner to achieve at an optimum level.


Boeree, C,G.,  Carl Rogers 1902-1987,
Carl Rogers, Core Conditions and Education,