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?

  • Social media offers a lot of opportunities for teachers/admin (and students), connect with parents, communities and other classrooms. There are a plethora of ways to use the tools to connect students with content in creative ways. - Holly.Lu Holly.Lu Feb 19, 2014

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

  • The concern about privacy within schools and student use - Holly.Lu Holly.Lu Feb 19, 2014
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(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative inquiry?

  • These different networks have great potential in learning and harnessing new skills. Learning search engine optimization (SEO), how to take the data and make it work for the user, company, brand !!!!
  • There has been a lot of discussion about the potential of social networking for a long time. The reality is that students are not embracing it for formal education as quickly as expected. While they are using them in their everyday life this is not translating into the educational context. However, although slow, there is still some movement. The SEET survey (mentioned in other sections) run across 3 universities in 2013 shows Facebook is starting to be used for communicating with other students although less for communicating with staff; there is increasing use for collaborative activities e.g. groupwork; YouTube is gaining as an information source, rather than for networking. While there is potential, we need to ask why there has not been the uptake that one would expect. - maree.gosper maree.gosper Feb 22, 2014

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

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