Social Media

Time-to-Adoption: One Year or Less
No longer satisfied to be consumers of content, today’s audience creates content as well, and is uploading photographs, audio, and video to the cloud by the billions. Producing, commenting, and classifying these media have become just as important as the more passive tasks of searching, reading, watching, and listening. Sites like Flickr, Odeo, YouTube, Google Video, and Ourmedia make it easy to find images, videos, and audio clips, but the real value of these sites lies in the way that users can classify, evaluate, comment upon, and add to the content that is there. Using simple interfaces, visitors can build shared collections of resources, whether they be links, photos, videos, documents, or almost any other kind of media. They can find and comment on items in other people’s lists, sharing not only the resources themselves but information and descriptive details about them.

As a result, over the past few years, the ways we produce, use and even think about our media have undergone a profound transformation. Literally billions of videos, podcasts, and other forms of social media are just a click away for any Internet-connected user. As the numbers and quality of user-produced clips have increased, our notions of what constitutes useful or engaging media have been redefined — and more and more, it is a two- to three-minute piece designed for viewing inside a browser or on a mobile phone.

Relevance for Teaching, Learning, or Creative Inquiry

  • Using tools for creating and tagging content, teachers can foster collaborative work not only among their own students, but with colleagues, students, and community members from around the world.
  • Teachers, project groups, and study groups can select only the tools that they need and set them up on their own, without the need to consult a central technology support center.
  • Sites that allow students to upload and edit content online make it possible to work from any computer with an Internet connection, and for multiple users to access, view, and work on the same files.

Social Media in Practic

For Further Reading

5 Insightful TED Talks on Social Media
(Matt Silverman,, February 7, 2010.) This post lists 5 notable TED talks that offer original insight into how social media affects society and interactions.

Digitally Inclined (PDF)
(Grunwald Associates LLC for PBS, January 2010.) This survey examines social and digital media use in K12 schools, offering some statistics and trends for this particular sector. A bullet point overview is available:

Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8 to 18 Year Olds
(Ulla Foehr and Donald Roberts, Kaiser Family Foundation, January 2010.) This report is the third in a series of large-scale, nationally representative surveys about young people’s media use.