Discussion #1 Chapter 16: Social Networks and Digital Natives

Literature Overview

The chapter was a discussion about the current online phenomenon known as social networking. The reading introduced the concept of community and its relationship with social networking.  Community and social belonging is a concept that is as old as humans are and has been integral to the development of the species. The research that the authors used cited a primary example of complete strangers developing common bonds and creating connections based upon interests to the end result of “community.”  This idea of community and belonging is one of the major forces why social networking has been so successful. Community in the classroom has been shown to be very beneficial to students and computers in the class only served to enhance that sense of community.  The ability to connect to others regardless of location, age, race, or other factors is quite an outstanding achievement which social networking serves to do. The authors stated that social networks are simply digital communities or bonds of common objectives or interests.

The digital natives, as the authors called them, are the children born after 1980 tend to be highly involved in social networking and other digital activities. They are generally very comfortable with communication technologies in general and attempt to multi-task (though everyone knows that’s impossible). This generation learns much differently than the generation before them and will probably benefit from social network learning environments. The authors stated that social networks can be used for many different areas within education and excel in the areas which build community and student connections.

Strengths and Weaknesses

The chapter was written thoroughly and in a way that was very readable. The subject matter was covered in enough detail to cover the point and invoke interest in the reader to search out and research the finer points. I could not identify any major weaknesses with the article or its selection as it pertains to the current course.  The paper was written in quality and scope much greater than I could currently hope for so I find it very difficult to find fault with the authors. If I had to want for anything in the article, it would be for them to include subgroups of the different generational groups and their involvement in social networking. I know there are many segments of the population who do not, for whatever reason, participate in social networking (or in any other “social” experiences) for that matter. This point may be negligent and irrelevant, but it’s all I can think of

Professional Development and Teacher Ideas

Teachers of all kinds could use this article to help realize their target audience’s involvement with social networking, communication technologies, and technology in general. This article also demonstrates that people older than the “digital natives” are not generally so closed to the idea of social networking as one might think. Teachers can also begin to understand some of the potential uses for social networking in the classroom and other places where community can be formed in a school. Teachers can also begin to realize the usefulness that a social network may have on their own professional experience with other teaches and professionals.

Future Trends

Social experiences and the desire for community (to one extent or another) are deeply ingrained in every human. The ability that social networks bring to create community, provide collaborative experiences and work, and the immense growth that many new social networking tools have exhibited prove to me that this is definitely not a passing fad. More and more aspects of personal computing are being tied to social networks and social connections (for better or worse).  Nearly every aspect of our daily lives can be documented or shared on a social network or with some form of social technology.

Personal Learning

I was very interested in seeing the statistics of my generation (and a bit ashamed of the amount of books read). I’m very interested in seeing the statistics of the generations after mine and seeing where the trends are taking us.  I was also glad to know that a social network does not have to be a “web 2.0” tool. Online games like World of Warcraft (which was mentioned in the chapter) and Lord of the Rings Online are generally not considered web 2.0, but they are social experiences where people network, form a community, and can collaborate with each other to learn and experience the world around them. This is one thing that I am extremely interested and am personally exploring the ways in which educational forms of those games can be utilized in the classroom.

Understanding of the Technology

Being a “digital native”, I do understand many aspects of social networking and the technologies, but I am always glad to explore different perspectives and viewpoints about the things that I am familiar with. I was very glad to approach the topic from the angle of social networks as communities and not so much as a new technology. I always will have questions when I read things like this, but not because I am confused as much as I want to learn more about the topic. I am interested in how people with social phobias and introverted personalities fare on social networks as opposed to the majority of extroverts and moderate personalities.

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