Social Networking Basics

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Social Networking

Social Networking: 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. 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 a vast topics and interests as varied and rich as our society and the history of the human being. The websites used for online social networking are known as social sites. They function like an online community of internet users. Many of these online community members share common interests in hobbies, religion, or politics. The websites without a main focus are often referred to as traditional social networking websites and that do not are called open and anyone can become a member, no matter what their hobbies, beliefs, or views are. Once members are granted access to a social networking website they can begin to socialize by reading other members’ profile pages and contacting them.

Characteristics of Social Networking tools

The Social Networking tools have the following common characteristics:

Access: Most of the Web 2 tools are easy to access. They allow anyone to create and share presentations online.

Usability: The account creation process is simple and the interface is intuitive from the usability perspective.

Privacy and Intellectual Property: Generally to share or not to share private data in most of the Web 2 tools depends on our choice. They provide the following options:

Content totally private (creator’s eyes only)
Content totally public (anyone can view) and
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 Learning and Content Management Systems LCMS which saves time by 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 Social Networking tools 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 the 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: Openness is the backbone of the Internet Revolution. Open Source Initiative (OSI) involves open computer standards, open software, and open content. There are fewer restrictions on access to information. The willingness to share knowledge presents great opportunities to learn and to participate. When the world’s knowledge doubles in short periods of time, the incentives or rewards for keeping information proprietary significantly diminish.

Collaboration: In the world of Web 2.0, collaboration is not only king, but it can be seen and assessed. 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 an 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, a person would be rewarded for being a good quiet follower. Times have changed now. The world needs students who are able 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. There is diverse opinion on most topics. It is evident when we look at the first page of a Wikipedia article, the discussion and history tabs. This really requires good adult mentors. Web 2.0 tools have transformed the personal learning of even experienced educators. Web participation enhances professional development venues, opportunities, and inclinations to help others. Used to being the provider or dispenser of knowledge and the authority, educators are unsure of the role they would play in a world of Web 2.0 education. The academic rigor is 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.<br> 

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Activity One:Open an User Account at WikiEducator site. Visit the userpages of some other members, particularly the History pages.

Activity Two: Create User Accounts in Gmail, Google groups, Orkut, Twitter, Facebook, Google Educator, Flickr, LinkedIn, etc. There are hundreds of such Web 2.0 tools available. Before joining, think in what ways these may be useful to you. Then experiment and experience the above said characteristics of these social networking sites.

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Read through this link:<br>Writing a Vision Statement

Benefits of Social Networking

Making friends online from diverse backgrounds is one of the most benefits of social networking. The internet connects individuals from all around the world. Members learn about new cultures and languages. Social networking often involves grouping specific individuals or organizations together. Many social networking websites focus on particular interests. Once members are inside this online community, they begin to create their own network of friends and eliminate members that do not share common interests or goals.

Dangers associated with Social Networking

The most prevalent danger often involves online predators or individuals who claim to be someone that they are not. Data theft and viruses are other dangers associated with social networking. 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. Earlier, the online world was considered a separate realm, and it was not viewed as a serious venue for work or business. 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. Nowadays social networking has encompassed civic participation, community support during emergencies, providing on-the-ground information in disaster areas, etc. Online communication always reinforces local relationships and local identities that build networks of interacting individuals who are mutually aware of each other, 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. The widespread use of online technologies are used for communicating, networking, contributing, distributing, storing, sharing and retrieving information – are creating ties that bind for offline communities.<br>

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Case Study
Take up your nearby institution and select a group of 5 students from different strata. Observe them and try to find out the answers for the following questions:

1. For what purposes do they use the Web 2.0 tools?

2. In what ways do they get benefited by using Web 2.0 tools?

3. What are the dangers did they encounter while using social networking tools?

4. Write a detailed case study report about your observations.