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

1 comment:

  1. Hi Theresa,
    It is interesting that you picked social networking. I know you agree with me that our students know so much more about it than we do! But we are learning… thanks to the information your blog has provided.
    The Ferdig article mentions that students must be actively engaged in the learning process and they must have an “end product”, something that they have created. This relates to the engagement theory I wrote in my blog last week. The basic principle of engagement theory is built around the concept of “Relate-Create-Donate”. The “relate” component refers to students working in teams, communicating and planning to collaborate on a project. The “create” component refers to students deciding and defining the specifics of the project. The “donate” principle refers to the idea that their project should have meaning to an outside community or group.
    I was amazed at the statistical pieces of information your other articles have provided. Technology is changing this word at a very fast rate. I remember reading early on in this course, that people who were born in the mid-1990s and after – and they are our students! – have never known the world without a global connection. They are used to having the world via the Internet in the palm of their hands – literally, through their iPhones or iPods. Just think how differently they view the world, information, technology, etc. I recently had this conversation with my students and they seemed surprised that once upon a time… there was no “www. ….”, and no Internet. Well, they knew it of course, but never thought of this making the generations before them think and see things differently.
    You mentioned that social networking is affecting every aspect of our lives, including politics. I am amazed how social networking is bringing social injustice, oppression, and discrimination around the world into the spotlight. Specifically, the continuing uprisings in Middle Eastern nations and the recent Kony campaign video.