Another dot in the blogosphere?

Posts Tagged ‘social networking

The author of this EduDemic article initially writes that social networking is not new and he is right on target. He then goes on to say that social media is not new. Dead wrong by a mile.

Social networking, like many of the so-called 21st century competencies are not new or unique to this century. I think that the need to network and develop these competencies are part of who we are and necessary for our survival.

It is the tools and media that we use and act in that shape, change or even dictate our behaviour. For example, the psychological effects of bullying can be imparted face-to-face (FTF) with a fist or over Facebook (FB) with a mobile phone. But while the FTF bullying can only happen as specific and perhaps predictable intervals, the FB bullying can happen all the time and at any time. Ditto for collaborating in person and at a particular sitting or online and asynchronously.

I am not being technologically deterministic. Tools are merely means to ends. I am being technologically realistic instead. We shape with tools and the tools may sometimes shape us.

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I like animated movies. While the trailer for Live Music isn’t mind-blowing, I like it just based on how it was conceptualised and produced. For more information about this short movie and how it was created, visit I think that it’s the primer of how work in the future will get done.

An article in ComputerWorld had a report on the 4th annual School of the Future Summit in Seattle, USA. It outlined how schools in the USA could prepare their students better if they embraced social networking and online learning.

There were people on both sides of the fence, of course. On one side of the fence were folks who said:

Students don’t always do what’s best for themselves. Often, they will hold on to tradition: ‘Define what I need to know, tell me, and then I’ll give it back to you.

Contrast that with:

I’d like to see us get rid of courses and create classroom delivery models that are more about how we work in the real world.

Somewhere in the middle were examples of what schools and virtual schools were doing to bridge that gap between what is and what could be.

But I’d agree more with the latter quote. Kids need to use and get used to technologies that will help them now and in the future. They need to learn how to think for themselves and how to learn. Our role then as educators is to facilitate the process and to model positive values and practices.

Ever considered some educational use of social networking tool like Facebook? I have.

Well, Red Rover claims to have that covered. Red Rover says that it will help learners connect with one another based on their interests and whether or not they already have Facebook profiles.

I’l have to examine this tool in greater detail. Perhaps I might use it for the community of technologically-inclined teachers that I hope to establish. Perhaps it might be a useful tool for pre-service teachers in my ICT classes next semester. I’d love to see them connect across groups and academic disciplines!

James Surowiecki gave a talk at TED.

Who is James Surowiecki? He is the author of “The Wisdom of the Crowds“. I think that anyone with an interest in blogging, collaborative writing with wikis, and social networking should read this book!

What is TED? Here is the description from the TED Website: TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from those three worlds. Since then its scope has become ever broader. The annual conference now brings together the world’s most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes).

So here is Surowiecki’s talk.

He started with blog entries about the tsunami of 2004, posed three questions to the audience, touched on some concepts of the wisdom of the crowds, and ended with a cautionary note. I am paraphrasing his three questions:

  1. Why do most bloggers blog?
  2. Can blogs really harness “collective intelligence”?
  3. What is the dark side of the phenomenon of social networking?

I’ll just say that he is a better author than he is a speaker, but his 18 minutes summed up some of his ideas very nicely. The Wikipedia summary provides a few more details.

In his book, Surowiecki illustrated of his ideas using social, economic, and sports examples. I think that his ideas work equally well in education when we talk about socially constructed knowledge. But while educators are often stumped when asked how exactly we can do this, Surowiecki offers an emergent framework (diversity of opinion, independence, decentralisation, and aggregation) based on his examples.

The creator of the Sims will be releasing a new game, Spore, tomorrow. It will be a complex game that will take advantage of social interaction and networking.

While it is based on evolutionary biology, there are many possibilities in other disciplines. I can imagine discussions on the evolution of culture. I see students writing or creating videos about their experiences. I see children learning how to make decisions, plan, manage, prioritize, and negotiate. I see them pondering ethical issues or business opportunities. Best of all, I see them highly engaged as they create and live experience in an environment that mirrors life!

For more information about Spore, visit

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