What is Social Media?

Today’s web users are prolific creators of content, and they upload photographs, audio, and video to cloud-based social media sites, such as Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, and many others by the billions. While the initial emphasis of social media was placed on producing and uploading media to these popular sharing sites, as the notion of social media has evolved, it has ultimately become more about the conversations started and relationships formed surrounding this media. When users log in to Facebook and Twitter, two of the sites that have the most subscribers and see the most daily traffic, they are not necessarily there to search for and observe media; they are there to see what their family, friends, and favorite brands and organizations are doing at that moment, and who and what they should be following that they have not yet discovered. For users it is all about being tuned in to their social networks and easily making new connections. The sharing of photographs and videos enhances the intimacy of these social sites, allowing users to get a visual of their friends’ daily lives and interests. For education institutions, social media enables two-way dialogues between students, prospective students, educators, and the institution. Currently, one of the most interesting facets of social media sites is the social graph, a concept which represents the sum of all of a person’s online social connections (who he or she is friends with, who likes the things she or her friends are interested in, who among those connections is where, etc.) and create deeper associations between people. Social graphs can be visualized in a variety of interesting ways, but far more interesting is the information embedded within the social graph and what it can tell us. Facebook launched software allowing users to search their social graph in early 2013, and pundits imagined using the search data to leverage likes, check-ins, and photos to make recommendations of not only products, but even people and interest groups to users based on their history and patterns of social media use, along with the actions and preferences of their friends. It is not yet clear how education institutions can best use or interpret the social graphs embedded in their communities, but new tools that allow social graphs to be searched will certainly open the door to new ideas.

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

  • - davidwdeeds davidwdeeds Mar 3, 2013 Social media...great potential for education, fierce resistance from administrators. I've coined the term "Anti Social Media Behavior" (yes, quite witty, thank you) to describe the phenomenon. But when teachers can get fired for posting on Facebook that her students are brats it's understandable. A couple of years ago the IB launched its Virtual Community (it was like a ning) and no one is using it. Even with total local control -- each school's administrator has to personally authorize each user -- there was the usual paranoid [bovine feces] about child molestors, etc. I'm looking to alternatives like Lore (http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/2012/11/06/31695/) to finally convince everyone that social media is "safe" for education. You can't have collaboration if everyone's terrified of who kids are going to meet online. Maybe the social graph is the answer for connecting people, but there's still going to have to be a platform people trust.
  • The IB Virtual Community was a failure because the software was badly designed (ePals) and 'clunky' therefore not attractive to the user. Social media for education needs to be reframed in terms of 'educational media' wioth the social played down. Take a look at Yong Zhao's global platform ObaWorld, Flat Classroom are piloting Eracism Project in there right now to help us build a community of learners. - lindsay.julie lindsay.julie Mar 3, 2013
  • Social media is huge for students ... everywhere. The 2nd largest Facebook country in the world is Indonesia, and in my experience few urban high schoolers there (and many outsuide urban areas) are not active users. I just completed some work in Russia, and most students above grade four were active users of Kontakte (essentiall, this is the Russian equivalent of Facebook). Outside school this is an integral tool for soliciting homework help, doing research, etc. in such places. It remains an outside-of-school phenomenon, however, and special 'education only' protected social networking tools that I have seen have mostly fallen into disuse 9if indeed they ever were really used). Where it is used in schools in the places where I work, it is often clandestinely accessed via mobile phone. - mtrucano mtrucano Mar 4, 2013
  • Skype, etherpads, airdrop, dropbox, Instagram, etc. are major components for a student's lifestyle at and out of school. And now these 'tools' are a part of the students learning toolbox. Another new one in Asia, particularly China, is WeChat. - michael.lambert michael.lambert Mar 4, 2013
  • Facebook is widely used in our school, both by students and teachers. It started out as a social activity only, but quickly students started studying and collaborating using Facebook. But most schools are still very resistant (not as much as in the USA though). The reason it worked in our school is because we have a systemized internet safety course (Digital Citizenship and Ethics) that talks about acceptable and responsible uses. These two have to come hand in hand. - cristiana.mattos cristiana.mattos Mar 5, 2013
  • Twitter, Facebook and Yammer are each highly utilized in our schools to facilitate collaboration between students attending different schools, to bring in expertise from beyond the classroom, and to connect our students with people across the world. It is better to teach and practice the appropriate use of social media within the classroom than to ignore it and hope for the best. - kecia.ray kecia.ray Mar 6, 2013
  • - mscofino mscofino Mar 8, 2013 Facebook is used for a number of classes at Yokohama International School, including Art, Science and Student Council (a club). Student work is shared, resources are posted and generally it's a place for students that are enthusiastic and excited about this subject to share and connect on content-based resources. Of course we also use social media for marketing and sharing the learning that's happening at school, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Flickr. We collate and collect all of these resources through shared hashtags, groups or channels.

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

  • - davidwdeeds davidwdeeds Mar 3, 2013 The only thing missing from my point of view is the potential of social media for project management. My dream is to have students in different parts of the world working together on software development projects (like we used to do back in my corporate days!) using social media as a means of coordinating the effort, generating a sense of teamwork, etc.
  • - lindsay.julie lindsay.julie Mar 3, 2013 More empahsis needs to be put on the 'collaboration' within the community. Also on more transient or temporary communities eg a f2f educational conference now should not exist without an online community to build synergy - and in fact Flat Classroom develop a whole virtual piece to work with the real attendees
  • - guus guus Mar 5, 2013 Whatever schools and their stakeholders may think about the advantages and disadvantages of using social media in learning and teaching, the opportunity and the momentum are there to discuss and formulate the way the management, the teachers, the students and the parents would like to see social media being used. Discussions as necessary, democratic steps forward to opening up schools...

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

  • - davidwdeeds davidwdeeds Mar 3, 2013 I'd like to see the equivalent of what the IB tried to do with its Virtual Community...a worldwide social media site for teachers and students. As soon as the IBVC started, though, people started clamping down on content...and participants balked. Social media has the potential for having a tremendous impact on teaching/learning, but we adults are going to need to lighten/loosen up a bit first.
  • ObaWorld - Yong wants this to be global and large.....I like what they are doing so far - lindsay.julie lindsay.julie Mar 3, 2013 - davidwdeeds davidwdeeds Mar 4, 2013 Thanks, Julie. I'm going to check out ObaWorld. Check out Linguo Land...just found out about it today: http://www.linguoland.com/
  • Students have been using social media to create study groups, project groups, both including or excluding teachers, so they controlled their level of privacy. Teachers have been using social media also to send out notices, help with campaigns, guide students in their studies and many more uses. - cristiana.mattos cristiana.mattos Mar 5, 2013

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

  • - davidwdeeds davidwdeeds Mar 3, 2013 I have a proposal in to the Global Issues Network Conference right now...if I get to go, I'll be introducing the 3D Global Village concept. Mainly 3D, but it'll have a 2D component as well. Again, I'd like to take advantage of the IBVC's "lessons learned" and try again to have a worldwide social media site for teachers/students. If I don't make it to the GIN Conference, I'll be making the same pitch this fall to the Tri-Association's Annual Educators' Conference. Oh, yeah...almost forgot...we're currently engaged in the National Association of Independent Schools' Challenge 20/20 Project, studying global warming with our partner school in the USA. Got a cybercampus, got a blog...off to a slow start (see reasons above), but we hope to make it a success.
  • Flat Classroom Project, NetGenEd Project (built around the Horizon Report), Flat Classroom Conference - use of social media to connect real attendees and virtual - lindsay.julie lindsay.julie Mar 3, 2013 - Holly.Lu Holly.Lu Mar 6, 2013
  • Science Fair Projects, Volunteer Projects, Study groups, Game Projects and many more are happening at our school, all using Facebook. - cristiana.mattos cristiana.mattos Mar 5, 2013
  • A small step in the world of social media, but maybe more districts will look to this example: http://www.edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2012/09/text-messaging-your-district-embracing-trend - Holly.Lu Holly.Lu Mar 6, 2013
  • - mscofino mscofino Mar 8, 2013
    YIS Visual Art Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/155373364474387/?fref=ts and YIS Twitter page:
    https://twitter.com/yis (Note the active RTs of teachers and students on campus, to highlight great things that are happening through a central portal)

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