Who didn't love Mr. Rogers? Those cardigans are all the rage now. Who would have thought he was a trendsetter?
Needless to say, Mr. Rogers was on the forefront of social media. He met up with many "experts" in the neighborhood providing 'blog-like' info. He video shared through a picture frame in his living room. The-neighborhood-of-make-believe were his Facebook friends, all providing status updates. Amazing how All You Really Needed to Know You Learned in Kindergarten.
Where I started?
In previous weeks where learning the tool was difficult, I pleasantly found social networks to be a mixture of the other Web 2.0 tools. Social networks are a platform for exchanging ideas that are fueled more through interaction, rather than say… podcasts, photo and video sharing. The latter tools are more products of celebration--- take it or leave it! Facebook and Ning do not move forward without an exchange of ideas and building contacts. These networks need constant watering, weeding and attention…did I say attention?
My journey into social networks started long ago. I have been a member of She Knows starting in 2002 and then on to a private discussion board in 2005. I found value in the supportive moms, discussing topics that were not shared with family or 'other' offline friends. As the years have gone on, I have learned a lot about American Health care and elections. I also discovered how much we are the same.
One afternoon, in 2006, a teacher said to me "Have you seen this Facebook thing?"
"Face-what?" Lit Maven said unjamming the photocopier.
"It's addictive" she said levitating above her desk and quietly floating out the window.
I can't remember who my first 'Facebook' friends were but I remember that initially I rarely used it. As more friends joined, the moms and I would share pictures. The learning curve on Facebook is not steep. I think that you do need to realize that posting on people's walls and updates are public. Perhaps that should be in bold for some people. There is a private mail feature. I don't use this as much as my regular e-mail. Instant chatting is fun, but I don't tend to communicate much this way.
Top 10 List of My Facebook Journey
- My posts are created for entertaining purposes. I want my friends to have a laugh for the day. If my posts are not responded to, I try harder.
- I will drop you if you add students as friends. (That's just weird!)
- I will drop you if you never update. (cue Every Breath You Take.)
- I will "hide you" if you obsessively update about Farmville
or Mafia Wars. (Really…if that's how you want to spend your time…)
- I am turned off by those who try to sell things on Facebook and then send out e-vites where you feel forced to respond. (It's called Facebook not Back-Friends-into-a-Corner-Book)
- I have deactivated myself, but I couldn't stay that way for long. (The software gets upset when you deactivate, "Why are you leaving me?"…creepy)
- To my chagrin, my immediate family members are not on Facebook. Life would be easier if they were. Perhaps a cyber Christmas…kidding….
- Having all my friends, from various places, on one application must be the same experience as a wake – minus the unfortunate demise.
- I wish there was a "dislike" button. Not to be mean but to dislike when people say stuff like, my baby doesn't sleep…yah I "dislike" that too.
- Wonder what junior high would have been like with Facebook. Would people's perms and "mean" backcombs actually fit in those profile boxes?
What I learned?
This course has been a cyber eye-opener. Did you know there are many social networking sites? Along with NIng, Shelfari and LibraryThing
were also on the list. That's nice Lit Maven but tell us more about Ning. Well…Bradley (2008) states "What sets Ning apart from other social networking sites is that it is actually a platform for creating social networks and not necessarily a social network itself" (p.46). This is something new I have learned in this course. I had thought Ning was another Facebook. I didn't realize it was describing a tool that could be found under many different subjects in completely separate locations.
I signed up for NCTE (National Council for Teachers of English Ning) ,
Classroom Web 2.0. and Making Curriculum POP. NIngs have an immediate professional learning and educational appeal. I was surprised to discover so many features: discussion boards, user blogs, podcasts, videos, images and easy navigation through the use of subjects or tags. You can also set up a connection to tweet from your personalized Ning Page.
I must admit that it is still hard to comment on threads. This is the frustrating part: either the answer is already there or I can't think of one. I did join in on a few conversations. I joined groups but I feel guilty since I haven't said much. But even without reposting there is a wealth of information reading over posts. Classroom Web 2.0 has heavy traffic. I subscribed to the NutShell Mail that delivers new discussion board updates at specific delivery times that you set. Not sure that I enjoy the frequent updates. It's kind of stressful to realize how far you are behind and how much you need to catch up on.
NIngs have excellent professional development activities. Classroom 2.0 sends e-mail reminders for e-luminate sessions featuring high quality educational leaders. These can be accessed live or later prerecorded. I listened to e-luminate sessions with Clay Shirky and Daniel Pink. With both I was penciling furiously in my notebook, lots of nuggets of truth and intrigue. Clay Shirky stated, "The target of education is a set of individual minds." The functions of Nings are based on collective minds. Little wonder education is having trouble reconciling with social networks.
Nings vary in regards to topic, but also in regards to size and activity. The benefit of Classroom 2.0 is that it has a lot of activity and a large pool of resources. But you can get lost in the shuffle, so it's important to join groups within in a NIng or create your own. "Nings are like a box of chocolates. You never know what you are going to get."
Where I Am Now?
I will continue to navigate through my Nings and perhaps try to find a way to organize all my activity. I get overwhelmed with all of the groups, the e-mail member updates, discussion thread updates. How can I develop my PLN to be more user-friendly and less, bookmark, bookmark, bookmark and leave for dead on the side of the cyber road? I think I have just touched the surface in my NIng activity. How can develop my brand or presence online?
Lean on Me, When Your Not Strong and I'll Join Your Ning, I'll Help You Carry On (Personal and Social Implications)
As mentioned, I use Facebook and will continue to do so. I find that the connections are too valuable to cyber-sever. How can I use Facebook more? I don't know if I really want to go deeper with Facebook. There are many games, apps, quizzes. In fact you can poke people and send them gifts. One thing I am not sure of is using Facebook as a forum for expressing condolences. I am not sure if it's appropriate. Many Facebook pages are set up as remembrance sites and they tend to become inactive after awhile.
I don't see Facebook as a place for sharing professional information. It's much more like phoning friends, chatting over coffee. But on that note it is a place where awkward things occur. Never leave your page logged in an unattended. This has happened to friends of mine with embarrassing results. Also when you update your profile, remember it is public. I recently updated my 'married to..status', thirteen years after the fact. Well…that did NOT go unnoticed by my wedding party.
Five Uses for Facebook (personally and socially)
- To update my daily status
- To share pictures of the family
- To keep in touch with relatives and old friends
- To check out the friends on your other friend's list. (Some acquaintances' do not age gracefully makes you feel better about yourself for two minutes.)
- To find out the "six degrees of separation" that exists between you and your friends. (I have added people who knew people that I didn't know they knew.)
My personal and social interests are reading and writing. Cue the snoring….zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.. I know! I know! Shelfari is a great social networking site. Once you are signed up, you can find groups based on "those like you" (scary) groups that are active and/or groups by category. I chose category and discovered that there are many for writing. You do have to be selective. Anyone can make a group. The books are organized by a tagging feature. I found many 'next reads' that gave recommendations for books, like the book, I just read.
- To keep track of books already read
- To keep track of "next read" books (Before I used to write them on scrap papers or loose leaf…and lose the leaf..I did!)
- To read "real" reviews
- To start a discussion thread
- To navigate through the tags and learn more about current topics in literacy
- To find books that might interest my children.
- To join groups that fosters my love of writing.
- Enables my purchasing through their direct links to Amazon. (Note: a dangerous feature)
- To actually write reviews and recommendations.
- Connect with others who share similar interests.
- Show off your shelf and look really smart! (Note: cyber books collect no dust.)
I think that there is so much left to uncover…get it book, uncover…. The social networking sites are plentiful; try them out, see what fits your style.
The First Time Ever I Saw Your Facebook (Educational Implications)
Does Facebook have a place in the classroom?
This link provides many ways to use it. I don't think the question is how can you use it but rather does it serve a purpose in the classroom? There is no question that social networking is a requirement for our 21st century learners. But is Facebook the place for teachers and students to interact? Mack Male (2009) said that while he doesn't expect teachers to use all these Web 2.0 tools in the classroom, teachers need to know how they work and what students use it for. Sometimes I think we are invading too many of their 'spaces'. Do we need to be their "friends" or their teachers? John Bowman (2009) in his article, Facebook In the Classroom, Bad Idea? , extended this discussion by bringing in other experts such as Tim Pychyl, an associate professor of psychology at Carleton University who stated, " Facebook is like taking a person with a gambling problem to Vegas. It's just too easy to get doing other things rather than the hard work of intellectual work." Then goes on to state that there is other software that serve the same purpose that aren't as distracting. In referring to the use of Facebook for librarians, Breeding (2009) states, "While Facebook continues to gain an ever wider and more diffused audience, I see quite a diminishment in the professional content exchanged in this medium" (p.29). I have to agree. Facebook is my 'guilty pleasure' tool. Even though there are many apps and ways to add professional conversation, I don't really want to go there.
Then there is the issue of teachers being friends with students on Facebook. We need to educate the whole child, but I don't think that means we hang out with them. Perhaps realizing that there are private spaces and public spaces and we don't have students hanging out in our staffrooms, probably for that reason. However, Richardson (2008) states, "these new realities demand that we prepare students to be educated, sophisticated owners of online spaces" (p.19). Bob SprankIe (2007) adds in his Classroom 2.0 web post, that social networks need to be introduced early when teachers can help them negotiate the process. Such as learning how to:
Ÿuse respectable language
Ÿhow to comment
Ÿdefining a friend, contact?
Students often go between street language and school language. They need freedom to be themselves but at the same time need to realize that what is said is left in cyberspace forever. Pre-service teachers also need to make decisions about their continued participation on social networking sites. Kist (2008) mentions the rising fear factor of Web 2.0 tools and possible ramifications for their online 'social' behavior. Recently a middle school teacher was suspended over Facebook comments directed at her students. Perhaps this is an extreme example but this reminds us that teachers are teachers 24/7.
But like with all things, labels do not mean anything without planning and setting a purpose. Ganis (2009) states "the term 'social learning' should not be used to describe learning platforms which simply include social media capabilities "(p.7). Teachers need to remember that introducing networks is valuable but the process should be supported and linked to learning outcomes. Moorman (2009) made an interesting comment that teachers need to check the perceptions of their students in regards to writing on the internet. Many are most familiar with Facebook and view the internet as a social writing tool rather than an academic one. Perhaps we assume too much about our students' academic experiences with Web 2.0 tools.
As a language arts consultant, my role is to demonstrate for teachers how a Ning can benefit them professionally with colleagues and then at the classroom level. Our district has a portal with social networking potential, closed to the public. Unfortunately attempts to move forward with total utilization have been met with limitations on permissions ie. Who can post content? Who can read the content? There many people making decisions on access, format, and delegation of responsibilities. Several questions sprang forth, Why are we trying to create a space (Ning) that is already out there and being used by people on a global level? Must networks be closed to so few people? What is the goal of these spaces? Can they operate in a private network? Should they operate in a private network? Bradley (2009) interviewed Ning creator Gina Bianchini who stated, "In the time the company has had meetings, interviewed stakeholders, hired enterprise software companies to build them out this 'special thing,' they could have been up and running with a social network on NIng" (p.49).
Nings have many advantages for teachers and teacher leaders. Teachers truly are islands and thrive when discussing ideas with other teachers.
The opportunity to create access to experts in the field is a new way of professional development. As soon as I joined the Ning, I began listening to the prerecorded podcasts on e-luminate. There are benefits of being able to:
Ÿput a voice to the name of some of these great books (And not only that, but to hear updated information, even more recent than their published book.)
Ÿfeel involved, within a discussion (Asking questions through the chat thread or having access to the microphone.)
Ÿpull educators together in one cyber room (Many educators are from around the world, not just North America)
Ÿspread around the knowledge (As the conversation evolved the speaker would express new insights.)
Nings have a Facebook-ish component within them, in addition to discussion boards and multimedia such as podcasts. Nings are a ready to use platform and easy to navigate. However, Violino (2009) states that time is needed to maintain these networks. That is a huge issue in schools, finding the time to learn about these tools and use them regularly. Perhaps if I created my own Literacy NIng and referred teachers back to it, the process would grow slowly.
I will leave you with this last quote…
"Social learning thrives in a culture of service and wonder. It is inspired by leaders, enabled by technology and ignited by opportunities that have only recently unfolded."-
Marcia Conner and Steve LeBlanc
Social networking is here to stay. Thank you for being a friend. Lit Maven…OUT!
Bradley, B.L. (2008) Web heroes. Indianapolis, IN: Wiley Publishing Inc.
Breeding, M. (2009). Social networking strategies for professionals. Computers in Libraries, 29(9), 29-31. Retrieved from ERIC database.
Ganis, F. (2009). Social learning" buzz masks deeper dimensions: Mitigating the confusion surrounding "social learning. Online Submission, Retrieved from ERIC database.
Kist, W. (2008). "I gave up myspace for lent": New teachers and social networking sites. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 52(3), 245-247. Retrieved from ERIC database.
Moorman, H. (2009). Adventures in web 2.0: Introducing social networking into my teaching. Horace, 25(1), Retrieved from ERIC database.
Violino, B. (2009). The buzz on campus: Social networking takes hold. Community College Journal, 79(6), 28-30. Retrieved from ERIC database.
Richardson, W. (2008). Footprints in the digital age. Educational Leadership, 66(3), 16-19. Retrieved from ERIC database.