What is Social Networking?
Social networking sites have been popularised by FaceBook and MySpace and provide the opportunity to set up a profile of an individual with photo and description then to build up a network of other people who subscribe to the site and invite them to become linked to yourself. In this way users build up a network of people they can chat using synchronous text communication, or send messages to (asynchronous, text messages). Social networks also allow a range of other media to be embedded into the social network site eg Youtube video or Flickr photos so that the media (photos, video) is viewable from the social network.
What is Twitter?
Twitter is a free online communication tool and has often been described as filling the gap between email and instant messaging. Twitter was only created in 2006, and works on a system of followers, and people using status updates of no more than 140 characters (which is the length of a normal text message) to communicate what they are doing or passing on information and links to resources/blogs etc. It is often referred to as a 'microblogging' tool as is works like a blog but the messages are limited in size. However you can link to pictures, websites, blog posts, resources etc.
How Can I use Twitter in Education?
- Use Twitter to develop your own personal learning network (PLN) so you can connect, share and collaborate with educators across the world
- Get feedback on students understanding of a topic -ask them to post the key points of a lesson
- Ask students to post questions on a topic or things they require further collaboration on
- Monitor the learning process by asking students to tweet updates as they work on a collaborative task
- Start a Twitter book club and tweet your reactions to the book as you read
- Provide a daily tip like a word of the day, book , useful fact, or helpful resource
Here is an example of twitter being used in a classroom:
How to embed a Twitter feed into UniLearn
1. Sign in to your Twitter account (website).
2. From the tools menu, select Settings.
3. On the menu tab on the left, select Widgets then select Create New.
4. You then have 4 timeline sources to choose from. For this set up, we will be using the Search source. Select the Search tab.
5. Fill in the required information for the Twitter feed, insuring that the Domain name is unilearn.hud.ac.uk.
6. You can preview the widget when filling out the options. Select Create Widget when completed.
7. You will then be giving a HTML code that you can copy and paste into UniLearn.
8. Copy the HTML code, and then log into UniLearn.
9. Go to the content area where you would like to add the Twitter feed, make sure Edit mode is switched on.
10. Select Build Content, and then select Item.
11. Fill in the content information like the name and availability.
12. Within the editor, select HTML mode (<>), and then paste the HTML code.
13. Click Submit after pasting in the code and the Twitter feed will appear in the content area.
What is Ning?
Ning is a profit making US based organisation. They provide the software and hosting of social networking sites. Web users can set up a social networking site and invite others to join. Please note that Ning sites are no longer free.
Potential of Using a Ning in Education
Creating a ning site for a course provides an online space where students and tutors can get together on the web. The ning site could be used formally as a way to access some course content e.g. Youtube videos or discussion areas. Alternatively it could be an online space where students and tutors get to know each other and build up a network and support one another. Nings are an alternative to the institutionally hosted and supported virtual learning environment, VLE.
Why use a Ning rather than VLE?
The look and feel of a ning site is radically different to a VLE and this encourages different sort of behaviour. The focus of attention in a ning is the central panel which lists what recent activity has occurred. In a ning participants can set up groups themselves rather than having to ask the tutor to do so (as in an VLE). It thus has a user generated, activity focus whereas in a VLE the navigation and structure is fixed by the VLE/tutor and the users have to fit into what tutors set up.
Here is an example of how Facebook and youtube have been used really successfully at City of Bath College:
Microblogging - JISC guide
5 Reasons why educators should network:}
JISC (2007) Student Expectations Study Online
Teaching with Twitter
Using twitter in the classroom - a maths probability lesson:
100 ideas of how to use twitter in the classroom
Link to Research on Twitter and Microblogging:
Twitter in Higher Education
JISC guide on using Facebook in FE and HE
Boulos, M. N., & Wheeler, S. (2007). The emerging Web 2.0 social software: an enabling suite of sociable technologies in health and health care education. Health Information and Libraries Journal, 24, 2-23.
Conole, G de Laat, M.Dillon, T. Darby, J. (2006) LXP Student experiences of technologies Final report Online at http://www.jisc.ac.uk/media/documents/programmes/elearningpedagogy/lxpprojectfinalreportdec06.pdf
King, D. L., & Brown, S. W. (2009). Emerging Trends, 2.0, and Libraries. The Serials Librarian, 56(1-4), 32-43.
Ryberg, T., & Christiansen, E. (2008). Community and social network sites as Technology Enhanced Learning Environments. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 17(3), 207-219.
Sharpe, R. Benfield, G. Lessner E. DeCicco E. (2005) Scoping Study for the Pedagogy strand of the JISC e-Learning Programme Online at http://www.jisc.ac.uk/whatwedo/programmes/elearning_pedagogy/elp_learneroutcomes.aspx