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H807 – Social networking

April 13, 2011

You really have to love the movies from Common Craft 🙂

This time the movie about Social networking.

I am definitely not a fan of Facebook, I am also not interested who becomes a friend with whom, who played something, or did any other commonplace things. But what I dislike most is that my bulletin board is overcrowed with messages from my friends who are very active. I always ask myself if I am on my page or someone’s else. I changed so many settings so far but did not manage to get rid of all the bulletins and I don’t want to offend anyone by blocking them out as well. Now I am in a Facebook strike since a couple of months.

My blog is my place, when I open it I see that page belongs to me and there is still interaction via the comment function. Call me old-fashioned or a digital immigrant, but Facebook is not my world, at least not in the way a lot of people use it.

Nevertheless the idea behind is good, I even watched the movie ‘The social network’ and how Facebook  develop, but I have to find out more how it could be applied for educational use. Yet, re-reading the article in the Guardian  ‘Get out of my space’ it seems questionable if students wish to use social networks in education. They view it more as a social space where they can ‘hang out’ with their own friends and do not want to be disturbed by any educator. Vice versa I have to admit I had similar objections, which kept me quite a while from opening an account. The question remains how do you handle the request from students to become a ‘friend’. Do you accept them or do you deny their request. Either way it is no easy decision.

Example(s) of social networking in use on a higher education course

Educational use of social networking technology in higher education

This study explored how social networking technology can be used to supplement face-to-face courses as a means of enhancing students’ sense of community and, thus, to promote classroom communities of practice in the context of higher education.

This study addressed two research questions:

  • What are students’ experiences with and views on the integration of social networking sites in the examined courses?
  • What impact does the use of social networking sites to supplement face-to-face courses have on students’ perceived sense of community?

Ning was chosen based on the researchers’ belief that social networks for academic purposes created with Ning bring about more focused learning environments with less distraction.

Findings indicated that the majority of participants developed strong feelings of social connectedness and expressed favorable feelings regarding their learning experiences in the classes where social networking sites were used as a supplementary tool. Learner difficulties and concerns of instructors about the educational use of social media are addressed with recommendations for future research and practice.

The article ‘Findings in Facebook in higher education: A comparison of college faculty and student uses and perceptions of social networking sites‘ might be from interest as well. I haven’t read it completely but the title and the abstract sounded already promising.

Set of key points for educators who consider introducing social networking to their class

  • Does my institution already have a solution for what I want to do? Check first if the service is not blocked by your school administrator (Facebook, YouTube, and other SNSs popular here in Germany are blocked and cannot be accessed from school.
  • Accessibility issues – Can the tools you are using be accessed by all students, for example can a blind, deaf or dyslexic student access content appropriately? (JISC 2007)
  • Is it appropriate for a member of staff to have access to the site, or is it a site that is aimed at ‘students only’?
  • Do the students want you there? Would you follow them to the students’ union and listen to their conversations
  • Underage students – how can you protect their an anonymity
  • What are the risks? Do these risks put you, your work or your students in difficult situations? Take each of the situations and write down a risk assessment. Think about privacy, data protection and copyright conditions, and provide students with advice also.
  • Safety – Date protection – back up all of your data in a safe place.
  • Netiquette or ‘Socioquette’ – important issue raised in the course material that educators have the responsibility to give students skills in how to cope with virtual relationships to avoid haphazard and/or other inappropriate contributions in the SNS
  • design an appropriate activity to make full use of the affordances SNS has to offer
  • who moderators the SNS
  • Access – can everybody access the SNS as well from home?
  • usability – how easy is the SNS to use, do the students need an instruction
  • Public vs closed SNS – issues of privacy and information security
  • educators should be aware that using social networking  can become time intensive, and class members may find themselves overloaded with an overabundance of information shared within the community. If there is no strategic plan in place to manage and maintain the CoP in the class social networks, then the use of a social network may not be effective.
  • To get the most from social media, it is necessary to develop a structured mechanism for interaction and information-sharing as a means to avoid impediments against social networking for learning.
  • successful implementation strategies are established by further research, social networking sites/services should be implemented with prudence and learner characteristics should be taken into careful consideration.

Social networking vs. eportfolio

Regarding my personal experience I made in H808 The elearning professional with eportfolios I think the main difference between social network sites and eportfolio is that the latter is more for personal use. It contains artefacts (i.e. documents, blog entries, podcasts, video’s, etc) that evidence the individuals progress in learning. ePortfolios are often used for PDP (Personal development planning). I used Mahara as eportfolio. Certainly Mahara offers features that allows community building similar to other SNS (Social Network Sites) but at least I did not make great use of it. SNS are more about collaboration, socializing and like in the example about community building. Presenting evidence of performance is not the main issue of a SNS. I would not go so far that eportfolio is only outcome-oriented and SNS  process-oriented, individual vs collective, but similar to a blog is an eportfolio something personal, it is owned by one person, whereas SNS are open to all group members/friends.

However, it depends on how you define and how you use these Web 2.0 tools. In H808 we had to do a collaborative project and used Google site. I think that could count as SNS as well, in a broader sense. I also consider blogging as social networking or twitter. I can store as well different resources in my blog e.g. videos, music,  etc. and I have my personal profile. Sure it does not offer the same features as Facebook, but I network.


Hsiu-Ting Hung and  Steve Chi-Yin Yuen (2010) Educational use of social networking technology in higher education, Teaching in Higher Education, [online] vol 15, issue 6. Available from (accessed 13 April 2011).

Phipps, L. (2007) Web 2.0 and Social Software: An Introduction [online], Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC); (Accessed 2 December 2010).

M.D. Roblyer, Michelle McDaniel, Marsena Webb, James Herman and James Vince Witty (2010) Findings in Facebook in higher education: A comparison of college faculty and student uses and perceptions of social networking sites, The Internet and Higher Education [online] vol 13, issue 3, June 2010, pages 134-140. Available from (accessed 13 April 2010).

The Guardian (2007) Students Tell Universities: Get out of MySpace [online],,,2205512,00.html (Accessed 2 December 2010).

From → H808

  1. Sylvia….!!!!

    I LOVE Facebook. After ten years of hardly communicating with family half a worl away, suddenly FB appeared and put us back in touch! I saw when my ‘great’ niece fed the animals on a farm, I heard when my niece read her first book, I see their first day at school,

    I know when old schoolfriends give birth, or are caught in an earthquake… I see when college friends visit the UK, and sometimes we can meet up as a result… I see where they move to, and if it’s exotic enough I might even go and visit!

    Facebook as a worldwide communication tool is amazing. (Although I have to admit, I sometimes hide friends who don’t tell me interesting things – I don’t care if a long lost school mate has a hangover this morning!!)

    As a teaching tool – I’m not so sure. It wasn’t effective as a communication tool for our sailing club – since not so many people use FB. But Yahoo! Group is perfect, since EVERYONE has an email address!!

  2. ulli-we permalink

    I have no use for facebook either. I created an account and put some information in it wehen we came back to Germany to stay in contact with our friends in China. But I was reading mainly one-to-one messages about visiting each other or saw some children photos from the last vacation. That is nothing I need facebook for. If we want to get in touch we write personal mails. There is not much to tell everyone out there. We seem to share with our friends and relatives the preference to communicate individually. Now my facebook account is canceled. Facebook was blocked in China anyway. That happened to blogger when we were there.
    The privacy policy of facebook was another issue for me to not use it. Do people know that they submit the rights of the pictures to facebook and facebook can use them as they please? I would not upload pictures of my children or anyone else.

    On the other hand I think it is a valuable tool for children, teenagers and students to stay in or get touch, if they know how to handle it safely.

    For e-learning, .. 
hm the internet and especially social networks want to be borderless. That’s a main point. Your picked a good point that students and children want to keep grownups out of “their” places. And somehow as you say with students, it feels that there should be at least some fine lines between teacher-student, boss-subordinates, ….
    I talked lately to a marketing manager. She told me about the profiles of her bosses in Linkedin and seemed amused but irritated.
    But can those lines be defined? The development of social networks for specific groups like teachers or other professional groups is an indication of the wish to first reduce complexity, but also to separate from others. Students, employees, customers don’t need to know certain things. That applies the other way round.

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