What is Social Networking?

Social networking is all about making connections and bringing people together. Conversations that take place in social networking contexts are inherently social, and often revolve around shared activities and interests. The heart of social networking is fostering the kinds of deep connections that occur when common pursuits are shared and discussed. Students are tremendously interested in social networking sites because of the community, the content, and the activities they can do there. They can share information about themselves, find out what their peers think about topics of interest to them, share music and playlists, and exchange messages with their friends. Social networking systems have led us to a new understanding of how people connect. Relationships are the currency of these systems, but we are only beginning to realize how valuable a currency they truly are. The next generation of social networking systems will change the way we search for, work with, and understand information by placing people at the center of the network. The first social operating system tools, only just emerging now, understand who we know, how we know them, and how deep our relationships actually are. They can lead us to connections we would otherwise have missed. Early social networking systems already recognize the value of connections and relationships, and as opportunities for virtual collaboration increase, we will rely more on trust-based networks that can interpret and evaluate the depth of a person’s social connections.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • Incredibly relevant to the K-12 sector because of the self-directed learning opportunities that exist in these networks and the implications for preparing our students to take advantage of them. - will.richardson will.richardson Feb 5, 2010. Indeed. The types of interactions available to users in this environment is pointing the way forward for teaching and learning interactions. However, we still need to figure out the key affordances and work out how to modify/adjust for learning - perhaps the commercial world can sort this out as an inadvertent outcome in a sort of 'wisdom of the crowd' way :) - horncheah horncheah Feb 5, 2010- guus.wijngaards guus.wijngaards Feb 6, 2010 We should study the way young people are using this technology for their own purposes and learn from that as well. - ninmah ninmah Feb 8, 2010 Agreed on both points.

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

  • I think right now the unrealized potential of these sites lies in the learning interactions that are possible. Right now, the emphasis with most kids is on the social, and while there are opportunities for them to learn in these social spaces, they are primarily attracted by the "friendship-based" http://www.macfound.org/site/c.lkLXJ8MQKrH/b.4773437/k.3CE6/New_Study_Shows_Time_Spent_Online_Important_for_Teen_Development.htm interactions that are possible. One of the opportunities that schools have is to teach kids about the learning opportunities that exist in terms of forming passion based communities that extend outside of their circle of friends. I think the whole concept of "learning currency" would be interesting to explore here as well. Finally, I'm wondering if part of this discussion shouldn't include a deep discussion of how we evaluate the depth of a person's social connections and to what extent we actively build "trust" in the context of the connections we make. - will.richardson will.richardson Feb 5, 2010

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative expression?

  • The potential impact is huge as it is within these learning-based networks that we will be pursuing the information and the connections that allow us to learn more about whatever we want or need to learn more about. I have no doubt that most of my own kids' learning lives will be spent in these types of spaces, and that obviously puts pressure on teachers and educational systems to begin to integrate these spaces into the curriculum. From a creative expression standpoint, the ability to create collaboratively and remix the work of others in the network has huge implications that again, I think, require a different approach to curriculum and pedagogy on the part of educators. - will.richardson will.richardson Feb 5, 2010
  • Agreed. I think one of the key difference within this environment and most existing classroom environment is that the teacher could no longer be in control of the learning outcomes. A student in these network spaces could sort out other expertise or cultivate a different range of perspectives which the teacher did not plan for. The danger is that these perspectives acquired by the students could be very narrow (and deep), which is not healthy in general. The task for the educator is to provide a scaffold to guide the learning. - horncheah horncheah Feb 5, 2010 - ninmah ninmah Feb 8, 2010

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

Please share information about related projects in our Horizon K-12 Project form.