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The phenomenon growth of social networking services/sites (SNSs) in recent years speaks to one of the defining features of Web 2.0 – the social web.  Today, social networking is very popular and digital native students already found social networking services integral to their daily life.  Many recent studies including my previous study indicate that social networking could be used in education to enhance students’ learning experiences and promote classroom communities of practice.

Approximately a year ago, Dr. Hsiu-Ting Hung and I conducted an exploratory study on the use of social networking technology to facilitate teaching and learning in the college classroom.  Our study set out to examine three regularly-scheduled courses at two public universities in Taiwan. Adopting the situated learning theory as the conceptual framework, our study attempted to answer two research questions: (1) What are students’ experiences with and views on the use of social networking sites in the courses under investigation? (2) What is the impact of using social networking sites to supplement face-to-face courses on students’ perceived sense of classroom community?

The findings of this study were presented at the 2010 SITE (Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education) International Conference in San Diego last week.   Overall, the results indicated that the majority of the students held positive attitudes towards the use of class social networks as a means to strengthen their connectedness among class members. Social networking in the observed classrooms was found helpful for promoting classroom communities of practice.  For more information about our study, please view the presentation shown below.  We welcome comments and suggestions.  Thanks.

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I gave a presentation “Social Networks in Education” at the E-Learn 2008 Conference in Las Vegas last week.  I want to take the opportunity here to share the presentation in my blog.  My presentation provides a brief overview of social networking in education.  Also, it presents a case study that integrates social networking into a graduate course for the purpose of building a sense of community, improving communications and interactions, and promoting student-centered collaboration.  Below is my presentation at the E-Learn 2008 Conference.

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Two weeks ago, the Office of Communications in the U.K. published an 80-page report, Social Networking: A quantitative and qualitative research report into attitudes, behaviours and use. The report draws on numerous qualitative and quantitative research studies conducted in UK in 2007. Here are some interesting findings from the report:

  • Social networking sites are most popular with teenagers and young adults.
  • Despite the fact that the minimum age for most major social networking sites is usually 13 (14 on MySpace), 27% of 8-11 year olds who are aware of social networking sites say that they have a profile on a site.
  • The average adult social networker has profiles on 1.6 sites, and most users check their profile at least every other day.
  • 25% of registered social networking users had posted sensitive personal data about themselves on their profiles (phone numbers, home addresses, etc.).
  • The majority of adults who had used a social networking site had a profile on Facebook (62%) and this was the most mentioned main social networking site (49%). Nearly half of all respondents reported having a profile on MySpace and one-third had one on Bebo.
  • Two-thirds of parents claim to set rules about their child’s use of social networking sites, although only 53% of children said that their parents set such rules.
  • Social networkers fall into five distinct groups based on their behaviors and attitudes: 1) Alpha Socialisers, 2) Attention Seekers, 3) Followers, 4) Faithfuls, and 5) Functionals.
  • Non-users of social networking sites fall into three distinct groups: 1) Concerned about safety, 2) Technically inexperienced, and 3) Intellectual rejecters.
  • Social network users create well-developed profiles as the basis of their online presence. They share personal information with a wide range of “friends.”
  • Only a few users highlighted negative aspects of social networking.
  • Concerns about privacy and safety are not “top of mind” for most users.
  • 41% of children aged 8-17 and 44% of adults leave their privacy settings as default ‘open’ which means that their profiles are visible to anyone.
  • 34% of 16-24 year olds are willing to give out sensitive personal information such as their phone number or email address.
  • 17% of adults used their profile to communicate with people they do not know. This increases among younger adults. 35% of adults spoke to people who were ‘friends of friends’.
  • Facebook is the most popular site with adults followed by MySpace and then Bebo. For children aged between 8 and 17, Bebo was the most used social networking site.
  • A minority of younger women reported creating fake profiles for fun.
  • Some teenagers and adults in their early twenties reported feeling ‘addicted’ to social networking sites and were aware that their use was squeezing their study time.
  • A minority of people reported being aware of bullying through social networking sites and some younger users admitted using social networking sites to ‘get back’ at people they had fallen out with.

Robin Blake introduces Ofcom’s research on Social Networking

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