User:Drksrk/Temp/Social Networking and Web 2.0 tools.doc

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SOCIAL NETWORKING AND WEB 2 TOOLS
Dr. K.S.Ramakrishnan
Assistant Professor, School of Education
Tamil Nadu Open University
Guindy, Chennai – 600 025

Abstract: There are dramatic changes in the Internet over the last few years as a result of web 2.0 technologies. Increasingly everyone is a teacher as well as a learner; nobody knows everything and everyone knows something. Social networking is the backbone of Web 2 tools. It is the grouping of individuals into specific groups, like small rural communities or a neighborhood subdivision. Although social networking is possible in person, especially in the workplace, universities, and high schools, it is most popular online. The appropriate use of the right Web 2.0 tool can ensure better access, strengthen interactions, increase learning, and improve satisfaction, all in a generally cost-effective manner! Web 2.0 realizes many of Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s original ambitions for the Web as a collaborative communication medium, and not just a top-down format for online publishing. Web 2.0 encompasses blogs, wikis, social networks and all forms of collaborative media sharing; Flickr for photos, YouTube for video, Slide Share for slides, etc. Web 2.0 has relevance for informal learning because it encourages the sharing of expertise from a bottom-up perspective, without the need for managerial intervention. They save a teacher’s time and they are the best and perfect tools to satisfy the course goals and learning objectives. It's the way the 21st century communicates now. Conversation, Access, Usability, Privacy and Intellectual Property, Workload and Time Management, Engagement, Authenticity, Participation, Collaboration, Openness and Access to Information, Collaboration, Creativity, Passionate Interest and Personal Expression, Discussion, Asynchronous Contribution, Proactivity and Critical Thinking are some of the critical aspects of Web 2 tools. This paper discusses some characteristic features of Web 2 tools, their properties, constraints, and their usages.

Social Networking: It's the way the 21st century communicates now. Social networking is the grouping of individuals into specific groups, like small rural communities or a neighborhood subdivision. Although social networking is possible in person, especially in the workplace, universities, and high schools, it is most popular online. This is because unlike most high schools, colleges, or workplaces, the internet is filled with millions of individuals who are looking to meet other people, to gather and share first-hand information and experiences about golfing, gardening, aesthetics and cosmetic surgery, developing friendships or professional alliances, finding employment, business-to-business marketing. The topics and interests are as varied and rich as our society and the history of the human being.

When it comes to online social networking, websites are commonly used. These websites are known as social sites. Social networking websites function like an online community of internet users. Depending on the website in question, many of these online community members share common interests in hobbies, religion, or politics. Once a member is granted access to a social networking website he / she can begin to socialize. This socialization may include reading the profile pages of other members and possibly even contacting them.

Benefits of Social Networking: One of the many benefits to social networking is to make friends online. Another one of those benefits includes diversity because the internet gives individuals from all around the world access to social networking sites somewhere in Denmark or India. Members learn a thing or two about new cultures or new languages and learning is always a good thing. As mentioned, social networking often involves grouping specific individuals or organizations together. While there are a number of social networking websites that focus on particular interests, there are others that do not. The websites without a main focus are often referred to as "traditional" social networking websites and usually have open memberships. This means that anyone can become a member, no matter what their hobbies, beliefs, or views are. However, once members are inside this online community, they can begin to create their own network of friends and eliminate members that do not share common interests or goals.

Dangers associated with Social Networking: There are dangers associated with social networking including data theft and viruses, which are on the rise. The most prevalent danger though often involves online predators or individuals who claim to be someone that they are not. But dangers exist in the real world also. By being aware of the cyber-surroundings and the people to talk with, one can be able to safely enjoy social networking online. Once members are well informed and comfortable with the surroundings, they can begin their search from hundreds of networking communities to join.

Impact of Social Networking: Interactions on Face book, Twitter and other social networking sites positively impact real-life and the intersection between online communication and the offline world forms two halves of a support mechanism for local communities. Previously, most attention was paid to highly virtual, online-only experiences. But as ICT has become increasingly intertwined with everyday life, the Internet and social media have combined to create a vibrant and indispensable communication and information platform and infrastructure for today's world. In its earliest incarnation, the online world was considered a separate realm, and it was not viewed as a serious venue for work or business. But as more people have come online, the more online communication has become the norm. So it isn't thought of as a separate realm anymore, but as one that merges and overlaps with our daily activities. Nowadays social networking has encompassed civic participation, community support during emergencies, providing on-the-ground information in disaster areas, etc. The rapid development and widespread use of online technologies – for communicating and networking, for contributing and distributing content, and for storing, sharing and retrieving files – are creating ties that bind for offline communities.

Research on who people communicate with online shows a lot of local activity. So, online communication always reinforces local relationships and local identities that build networks of interacting individuals who are mutually aware of each other. This demonstrates a continuous change in how we maintain local community, while also emphasizing the importance and significance of our attachments to local places and spaces. There is probably more contact online with locals, and more searches for local information. There is a stronger, Internet-enabled connection to the geographically-based community. We've evolved from one-to-one or small group communication to whole community communication. With the ubiquity of Internet-enabled cell phones with cameras, the mobile Internet provides a low effort, just-in-time, virtual printing press, making anyone a writer, editor and publisher of hyper local news.

The use of cell phones to access the Web is a bigger factor in connecting the Internet to a local geographical community than the World Wide Web. Whether they're posting a status update to Facebook, sending out a tweet from Twitter, or uploading photos to Flickr, people have a cell phone with them in physical space, and they connect that physical space to the Internet when they use their cell phones for Internet access.

Web 2 tools: Seeing the Web as a conversation is very helpful in understanding how our paradigms about information will have to change. We often speak of information overload, and the perception that there is too much information can reinforce our belief that information needs to be more carefully controlled and vetted before being allowed to become public. When, however, we see the ever increasing amount of content as conversations that are taking place, it becomes an educational imperative to teach ourselves and students to be productive participants in those conversations. Most of our students are already actively involved in this content creation and conversation outside of school. In a survey to find out the effective and innovative use of technology throughout learning on Web 2.0 technologies for learning, students ages 11 - 16 were surveyed, 74% reported that they had at least one social networking site account and 78% reported having uploaded pictures, video, or music to the web–with 50% having done so in the previous week. As most parents are still living in a Web 1.0 world, most youth are participating on the Web without the benefit of much guidance or mentoring from the adults. So there is an urgent need to teach Web 2.0 as a part of Higher Secondary education. The inherent characteristics of Web 2.0 are so aligned with significant educational pedagogies. There is a computer fad in education, promising to transform learning. But the impact on student achievement has been little to none. A set of technologies that actually transform our traditional methods will become the driving catalyst for ubiquitous access to computers at school. Driven not by technology vendors or unproven theories, Web 2.0 instead seems likely to change education precisely because it is a disruptive external change. What are, then, the aspects of Web 2.0 that translate into achieving educational goals? The following is the list of some educational benefits of Web 2.0.

Access: Most of the Web 2 tools allow one to share presentations online, and allow creating them. Both options are necessary in case students who didn’t have, or couldn’t afford, PowerPoint.

Usability: From a usability perspective, the account creation process is simple and the interface is intuitive.

Privacy and Intellectual Property: Generally most of the Web 2 tools to share private data or not to share it depending of our choice. They have options to make content totally private (creator’s eyes only), totally public (anyone can view) or view/collaborate by invitation. This is a bonus because students can work on their presentations privately and then share them with others only when they’re ready.

Workload and Time Management: It is easy to track who has done what. There is also a comment feature which is tied to an account so it will be simple for the teacher to determine who has done a peer assessment. Finally, the presentation can be embedded in the LCMS which will save time be letting the teacher view all presentations in a course room instead of visiting multiple sites.

Engagement: This is often a promised result of technology. The engagement of Web 2.0 is in the act of content creation, and seems to exist independent of the particular program being used or even of being in a formal learning environment. Students who continue to post to their blog or to stay involved in discussion forums during their vacations exemplify the power of Web 2.0 to engage students because of the authentic nature of the work rather than being required assignments.

Authenticity: Having an authentic audience, contributed work Web 2.0 is an active part of secondary education. Students today are creating on the Web for very real audiences, and their writing or production has to pass a very real test: Are they communicating well? Whether it is the peer audience in school which keeps their Web 2.0 programs within the school network, or it is publishing for the world, both the work and the audience are authentic.

Participation: It is the contribution to world’s body of knowledge. Students and teachers can find specific intellectual paths to tread where they are able to participate. A student can write a report on an historical figure, or a scientific theory, and publish that to the web and also participate in meaningful ways with other students and adults interested in the same topic. It is meaningless to keep our youth preparing for life until their mid-twenties when their contributions to society could be so important to both us and them much earlier.

Openness and Access to Information: The backbone of the Internet Revolution is openness; open computer standards, open software, and open content. Web 2.0 is making obsolete many of the restrictions on access to information that was intended to protect the rights of creators, but instead mostly inhibited learning by others. When the world’s knowledge doubles in short periods of time, the incentives or rewards for keeping information proprietary significantly diminish, and the resulting willingness to share presents great opportunities to learn and to participate. The ability to look something up or to learn something new has never been greater.

Collaboration: Collaboration is an important aspect of Web 2 tools. Web 2.0 has actually given real practical value to a character trait we wanted to instill. In the world of Web 2.0, collaboration is not only king, but it can be seen and assessed. For example, look at the history page of a wiki, or the linked list of contributed comments on the personal profile page of a social network. Web 2.0 has created an unparalleled ability to build or participate in personal learning networks and communities of interest or practice.

Creativity: We are in the midst of the greatest increase of creative capability in the history of the world. A regular student can write, film, and edit a video which then can be uploaded to YouTube and potentially seen by more of an audience than some commercial films actually garner.

Passionate Interest and Personal Expression: More than just the ability to build a profile page on MySpace, Web 2.0 actually gives both students and educators to build for themselves a online portfolio of the endeavors they are passionate about. Where the resume and the degrees have been our short-cut indicators of abilities and accomplishments, the personal body of work now contained and hopefully organized on the Web gives everyone who wants it the opportunity for an expression of personal interest and achievement.

Discussion: A lost art in culture and politics is the thoughtful discussion. One of the great features of Web 2.0 is the discussion forum, which provides an environment for learning how to actually talk about things. A lot of discussion is taking place in the blogosphere and often it becomes much more thoughtful in the context of a discussion forum.

Asynchronous Contribution: The ability to contribute to discussions after class, or from home, provides a much broader opportunity for participation that the traditional class discussion. Students with different contribution styles, or who process information over time, are now more participative.

Proactivity: Web 2.0 inherently rewards the proactive learner and contributor. In the olden times, by being a good quiet follower a person would be rewarded. But the world has changed, and employers want and the world needs students who have learned to participate actively and independently. The spirited children are much more likely to be able to work on things they like and is good at because of their willingness to be proactive.

Critical Thinking: The vast amount of data on the Web requires more critical thinking than is needed. Most of the people are interested to know about the news. There is actually a lot more diversity of opinion on most topics than one is exposed to, which quickly becomes evident when we drill past the first page of a Wikipedia article and look at the discussion and history tabs. Unlike the previous traits of Web 2.0, this one really requires good adult mentors. One of the amazing impacts of Web 2.0 is watching long-time educators have their own personal learning transformed by these new tools of Web participation—especially as they discover professional development venues on the Web that help to release the inclinations to help others that often prompted them to become teachers. Their own experiences with Web 2.0 in this regard dramatically shape new expectations for what opportunities they are going to provide their students. But other educators are understandably afraid: of the learning curve, of the changes taking place, and of their own ability to play a valuable role in an educational world shaped by the individualized learning and unlimited content and opportunities. Used to being the provider or dispenser of knowledge and the authority, they are unsure of the role they would play in a world of Web 2.0 education. They are also, and often rightly, concerned that academic rigor is being lost in a world of easy creation and limited constraints.

Fun Factor: The tools allow for insertion of images and text and have some interesting slide transitions as well. They have the capability to add sound, the ability to have discussions around text and image presentations (opposed to just text-based discussions) does add some fun and creativity to the learning activity.

Constraints to Web 2 tools: We’ve developed a negative cultural impression of social networking that comes out of the very power that will make it such an effective tool for education. Fundamentally answering a human need to connect, create, and express ourselves, the immense popularity of some early social networks have showcased garishness and vulgarity that aren’t inherent in the technology, but became an early part of it because of the very absence of influential adults. Personal profile pages, discussion forums, video and photo repositories, messaging, and other social networking functions can all bring real pedagogical value if we can get past our knee-jerk negative reactions to social networking.

We won’t be able to implement Web 2.0 expansively without ubiquitous computing, and so its use and adoption in schools will not be even or equal. This is a real issue, without easy answers, especially with the added challenge of having more and more personal phones and devices require networks which can accommodate them all.

Teachers will need time and training to learn to use these tools in the classroom. Even though Web 2.0 is the dramatic revolution, there are still incredibly challenging demands on teachers’ time that will make it hard for them to learn about these things. As the views are different, adoption by teachers will also not be even or equal.

The legal liabilities that schools face because of concerns about student exposure to inappropriate material and potential predators will not be easy to overcome.

Information revolutions don’t come with a manual, and we surely can’t foresee many or most of the implications of what’s taking place and how to integrate it into education. It will take time to build new playbooks. Still the long-term outcome will be a system of learning that is much more productive for our youth, and for their teachers, than currently exists.

Informal Learning: Over the past couple of years there has been an increased emphasis on informal learning and this can be facilitated using new Web 2.0 technologies. Web 2.0 realises many of Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s original ambitions for the Web as a collaborative communication medium, and not just a top-down format for online publishing. Web 2.0 encompasses blogs, wikis, social networks and all forms of collaborative media sharing (Flickr for photos, YouTube for video, Slide Share for slides, etc). Web 2.0 has relevance for informal learning because it encourages the sharing of expertise from a bottom-up perspective, without the need for managerial intervention. The eLearning Guild has recently released a new report on Learning 2.0 - Learning in a Web 2.0 World. There’s a good overall response. Learning 2.0 is defined as the idea of learning through digital connections and peer collaboration enhanced by technologies driven by Web 2.0. Learning 2.0 can play an important role in supporting formal learning in terms of active support and follow through. This is an important point, because there is no reason for formal and informal approaches to be seen as in opposition. Next generation blended learning integrates informal techniques, both technological and traditional (coaching, buddying, project work, etc.), alongside formal face-to-face and online ingredients, to create blends which help to ensure the successful transfer of new learning to the work environment. Learning 2.0 is growing much faster than other approaches. It’s still difficult to find convincing case studies showing the use of Web 2.0 approaches for learning in the workplace, other than at the more obvious high-tech organisations.

Usage of Web 2 tools: Blogs are used sometimes or often in 22% of organisations, podcasts in 20%, and wikis/communities of practice in 31%. Usage is higher in smaller organisations (<500 people), in just about any region outside the US (with Asia Pacific top and Europe well ahead of the US), and in public sector and academic institutions more than the private sector. Here the membership of some popular Social Networks is given.

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Table 1. Membership in some Indian Social Networks


Name
Description / Focus
Registered Users
Registration
Bigadda
Indian Social Networking Site &0000000003000000.0000003,000,000 People 16 and older
Classmates.com
School, college, work and the military &0000000050000000.00000050,000,000 People 18 and older
Facebook
General &0000000350000000.000000350,000,000 Open
Flixster
Movies &0000000063000000.00000063,000,000 People 13 and older
Flickr
Photo sharing, commenting, photography related networking, worldwide &0000000032000000.00000032,000,000 People 13 and older
Fotolog
Photoblogging. Popular in South America and Spain &0000000020000000.00000020,000,000 Open
Friends Reunited
UK based. School, college, work, sport and streets &0000000019000000.00000019,000,000 People 13 and older
Ibibo
Talent based social networking site that allows promoting one’s self and also discovering new talent. Most popular in India. &0000000003500000.0000003,500,000 Open
Last.fm
Music &0000000030000000.00000030,000,000 Open
LinkedIn
Business and professional networking &0000000060000000.00000060,000,000 People 18 and older
Odnoklassniki
Connect with old classmates. Popular in Russia and former Soviet republics &0000000045000000.00000045,000,000 Open
Orkut
General. Owned by Google Inc. Popular in Brazil and increasing, in India &0000000180000000.000000180,000,000 people 18 and older
Twitter
General. Micro-blogging, RSS, updates &0000000075000000.00000075,000,000 Open
Windows Live Spaces
Blogging (formerly MSN Spaces) &0000000120000000.000000120,000,000 Open
myYearbook
General &0000000020000000.00000020,000,000 Age 13 and up & Grades 9 and up
Conclusion: From the above discussions it is well understood that the Web 2.0 have almost encompassed all spheres of the academia and business. There are thousands of Web 2 tools in use. It is no exaggeration that the Web 2 tools have realized the purpose of Tim-Bernard-Lee’s dream to make the WWW as a community and collaboration tool rather than the set of formats and rules. The academia is very reluctant in using the Web 2 tools. Some educational institutions and even some countries have blocked the use of these useful tools. In every technology, there are pros and cons. It is we, the teachers who have to guide the students the judicious use of these wonderful tools.

References

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Mason, R.  (2003). Online learning and supporting students. New possibilities. In A. Tait & R. Mills (Eds.) Re-thinking Learner Support in Distance Education: Change and Continuity in an International Context (pp. 91-99). London: Routledge Falmer.

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Wong, A., Quek, C.L., Divaharan,S., Liu, W.C., Peer, J. and Williams, M. (2006). Singapore Students' and Teachers' Perceptions of Computer-Supported Project Work Classroom Learning Environments. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 38 (4), 449-479.

The old crow is getting slow; the young crow is not.Of what the young crow does not know, the old crow knows a lot.
At knowing things, the old crow is still the young crow’s master.What does the old crow not know? How to go faster.
The young crow flies above, below, and rings around the slow old crow.What does the fast young crow not know? WHERE TO GO.
John Ciardi