What is Social Media?

Today’s web users are prolific creators of content, and they upload photographs, audio, and video to the cloud by the billions. Producing, commenting, and classifying these media have become just as important as the more passive tasks of searching, reading, watching, and listening. Sites such as Flickr, Picassa, YouTube, Google Video, Vimeo, and others make it easy to find images, videos, and audio clips, but the real value of these sites lies in the way that users can share, tag, comment upon, and add to the content that is there. Over the past few years, the ways we produce, use, and think about our media have undergone a profound transformation. Billions of videos, podcasts, and other forms of social media are just a click away for any Internet-connected user. As the numbers and quality of user-produced clips have increased, our notions of what constitutes useful or engaging media have been redefined. Tertiary institutions need to understand and develop strategic plans for leveraging social media and providing internally generated resources — images, audio, and multimedia — to make the process a rich, engaging, two-way dialog between audience and institution.

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

  • I think this is a big area for HE and beyond. I like this quote: "I have said this many times before, that education is based upon relationships. While people often look at social media is just “technology” we have to see how proper use can help really bring our world together." From an article called 'Why Social Media Can and Is Changing Education' March 2011, http://georgecouros.ca/blog/archives/1860 - john.cook john.cook Nov 9, 2011
  • Social media literacies are a crucial in helping students to, "move beyond a mere social media consumption model and embrace more of a content creation model" and the process engage students in inquiry through the, "power of personal learning networks (PLNs)" (Weisgerber, 2010)(Butler & Weisgerber, 2011). In addition to connecting students to experts, as in the case of PLNs, social media tools can create an important 'backchannel' in the classroom to help them share information and extend classroom discussions (Croxall, 2010). Social media literacies are also crucial if students are to understand how they 'plug-in' to a globally connected society. Social media literacies can help students to understand the democratic effects of the internet (Groshek, 2010) and social media's role in political change (Shirky, 2011). These perspectives thus help students to broaden their understanding of the world that exists outside of "traditional academic boundaries" (Adhikari, 2011). - jasonr jasonr Nov 9, 2011
  • The educational possibilities offered by the creation and curation of digital media is a fascinating area to be explored - one of the projects currently underway at our institution is the creation of online reflective diaries using both audio and video as well as the written word, in which students explore not only how they have created an artistic work, but also why they created it, and what led to ceratin decisions being made along the way. The results have been most interesting, and have made us look at the not just what we teach, but the way we teach it. The creation of online "Portfolios" of work using tools such as Picassa, Youtube et al is of particular use to our students, many of whom create work that is ephemeral by nature e.g. theatre or dance, and it allows them to demonstrate their development as their courses progress.- damian.mcdonald damian.mcdonald Nov 17, 2011 We have adopted a similar approach to transmedia assessment in short mobile films projects: students publish their final projects (films) on YouTube, alongside personal reflections on the process on their blogs, their group reports are developed/published on wikis, accompanied by Flickr photo diaries which show 'the making of' - all of the platforms are connected through relevant hyperlinks within text/on images/films e.g. overlay notes on Flickr photos, taking the viewer to a more comprehensive description on the wiki etc. This gives us a) greater insight into the knowledge creation process, and b) simultaneously they develop their skills in transmedia production practices. - helen.keegan helen.keegan Nov 20, 2011

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

  • At the risk of getting too academic, I think that pervasive social media not allows users (i.e. learners and techers) to gernerate their own content for learning (which is very motivating for them), but to but to generate their own context for learning! See User Generated Context worke here: http://www.londonmobilelearning.net/aigaion2/topics/single/72 - john.cook john.cook Nov 9, 2011
  • Social media literacies not only helps students to find information and connect to a greater community, they are also critical if we want students to directly connect to real issues, contribute to authentic conversations, and affect real social change. - jasonr jasonr Nov 9, 2011
  • One of the issues I have with the opening statement is the suggestion that the quality and the number of clips have increased. Whilst I cannot argue with the former, I have seen no evidence to suggest the latter, unless we are talking in purely technological terms - a video of a cat riding a robot vacuum cleaner is still a video of a cat riding a robot vaccum cleaner whether it is shot on a a super 8 or a super HD camera. Try googling it - you WILL be disappointed!) This suggests that there must come a time when materials will have to be culled for the benefit of humanity. However, I am aware of the possible accusations of eugenicicism that this may arouse, which conflicts with my liberal nature, but as we are talking about the educational benefits of social media, I feel that somehow we should ring fence the useful from the useless - I guess iTunes U is a pretty good example of that.- damian.mcdonald damian.mcdonald Nov 17, 2011

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

  • The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project recently says it for me (Hampton, Goulet, Rainie, & Purcell, 2011) examined “SNS in a survey that explored people’s overall social networks and how use of these technologies is related to trust, tolerance, social support, and community and political engagement ... We found that while there had been a decline in the size and diversity of people’s closest relationships, it was not related to the use of the internet or mobile phone. In most cases use of the internet and cell phones was associated with larger and more diverse social networks”. http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2011/Technology-and-social-networks.aspx - john.cook john.cook Nov 9, 2011 - paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Nov 17, 2011
  • Social media is an amazing phenomenon, with the potential to allow everyone to create and share their work and ideas, but without curation it will ultimately prove to be useless, a swamp of mediocrity from which nothing useful can be deagged.- damian.mcdonald damian.mcdonald Nov 17, 2011
  • As discussed elsewhere, to broaden student perspectives; to empower and enliven learning through social media engagement. Participation in social media for social good means connecting students to events such as the Social Good Summit, sponsored by the UN Foundation and Mashable: http://mashable.com/sgs/and as free agents in the networked non-profit community: http://www.bethkanter.org/the-networked-nonprofit/ - jasonr jasonr Nov 9, 2011
  • Student engagement and social media links:
  • Social media has to potential to alter the way we think about learning environments themselves. The London School of Business and Finance Facebook app http://www.facebook.com/LSBFGlobalMBA offers anyone access to LSBF MBA content around a community that is very actively engaged with the content and each other. Credit for the courses follows the summative testing British model. This changes the way that potential students think about where and how they will access courses and degrees, from the university being the focal point to the social network being the focal point. - phil.ice phil.ice Nov 19, 2011

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

  • Global Social Problems: Local Action and Social Networks for Change at St. Edward's University (Jason Rosenblum & Bob Strong): This courses heavily incorporates social media as tools for research and participation. Students are asked to use tools such as Twitter, Mashable and Evri to research information, and Scoop.it to curate content. Students also participated in the 2011 Social Good Summit, sponsored by Mashable. Student blog entries are tweeted using the course hash tag, #globsoc .- jasonr jasonr Nov 9, 2011
  • Social Media for Public Relations at St. Edward's University (Corinne Weisgerber): A course that, "explore[s] emerging social media technologies and stud[ies] their application in contemporary PR practice".- jasonr jasonr Nov 9, 2011
  • SoMobNet “Social Mobile Networking for Informal Learning” http://www.somobnet.eu/ - john.cook john.cook Nov 11, 2011
  • "How Journalism Professors Can Navigate Social Media" (http://www.pbs.org/mediashift/2011/11/how-journalism-professors-can-navigate-social-media320.html), posted at PBS.org by Nathan Gibbs on November 16, 2011, provides examples of social media tools being used in university courses and explores some of the issues instructors face, e.g., whether to become Facebook friends with their students.- paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Nov 16, 2011
  • "Learning in the Future," a blog by University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) teacher-trainer Michael Wilder, is well worth following since Michael leads innovative and dynamic journalism courses requiring leaners at UNLV to use social media tools as an integral part of their coursework: http://www.vegas-times.com/litf/. "E-learning, Google Chat, and Innovation" is a piece I blogged to provide an example of what Michael does with social media and learning: http://buildingcreativebridges.wordpress.com/2010/01/13/e-learning-google-chat-and-innovation/.- paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Nov 16, 2011
  • In Fall 2011, Virginia Tech began a blogging initiative for students in the Honors Residential College. The goal was to extend an intensive living-learning experience beyond the walls of the college or the university itself. Nearly 200 students, many of them first-year students, have blogged weekly about their learning, their transition to college, and their growing self-awareness as learners. While other social media (Facebook, listservs, etc.) have also been used in this setting, the richer and larger space for reflection on the blogs has produced an outpouring of creativity and deep, detailed qualitative data about a crucial moment in students' cognitive and social development. See http://blogs.is.vt.edu/hrcblogs.- gardner.campbell gardner.campbell Nov 20, 2011

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The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project recently (Hampton, Goulet, Rainie, & Purcell, 2011) examined “SNS in a survey that explored people’s overall social networks and how use of these technologies is related to trust, tolerance, social support, and community and political engagement ... We found that while there had been a decline in the size and diversity of people’s closest relationships, it was not related to the use of the internet or mobile phone. In most cases use of the internet and cell phones was associated with larger and more diverse social networks”.