Discussion #4 Chapter 2: Danger Will Robinson!! Social Networking and Education Ahead

Chapter 2: Conceptualizing Codes of Conduct in Social Networking Communities

Collective Intelligence and E-Learning 2.0

Description/summary of main ideas in the chapters.

Chapter 2 jumped right into the heart of the discussion as to why many schools and educational systems are hesitant to approach social networks for learning environments. This chapter deals with the legal and ethical uses for social networking in classrooms and learning environments. The authors stated that they wanted to deal with the “controversies” surrounding the social networking tools.

The chapter begins by sharing a story of an instructor and a student assignment involving Myspace.  The instructor was faced with a moral dilemma in which there were no clear lines between the classroom and personal life. The instructor chose to use social networks and the student chose to post very personal and disturbing content. The authors continued by addressing what social networks are and what they can do.  They stated that social networks involve “virtual meeting places” and allow for greater connectivity than would be possible without the Web. The online social networks allow for people to join, input information they want to share, and connect with other users who have done the same.  The network gets bigger and bigger as more people join and find connections with one another.

The authors then took that story and discussed legal issues that arise with the “ubiquity” of social networks. They offered some situations where educational institutions were faced with difficult decisions because of teacher and student actions online. The authors stated specifically that they were not out to solve this problem or offer “right answers” for confusing situations. They stated that they were only going to look at the issues and try to understand them better.

The authors then decided to look at the areas which can get hazy when dealing with the legal and moral issues of social networks. They discussed bullying, social humiliation, hazing, and other forms of discrimination that can (and does) take place on social networks. The authors stated that these types of behaviors would take planning and time in real world situations, but social networks make these actions relatively easy and seemingly safe from being caught. The false sense of privacy that social networks give was the next issue the authors addressed. Social networks blur the lines and boundaries of who is being addressed and who can view certain content. Interaction into each other’s (students and teachers) causes a plethora of different reactions from both sides and cause nothing but trouble. They discussed many great issues in this section including the temporary sense of security of privacy and information, different identities online, and information disclosure. The authors also discussed in detail about professional and personal online identities, possible outcomes for using social networking in education, and what the future may be.

Discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of the chapters.

All I can say about this chapter is “Wow.” This is one of the best reads that I’ve been given as an assignment since I’ve been a student in the ITD program. I think I enjoyed it so much because it is very real and very honest about the problems, the moral decisions, and what is (was) going on. Though this chapter was written in 2007, we are still grappling with those same issues today. There is an action committee on campus trying to understand how to deal with this very thing at Southern Miss. This chapter was very strong on the point of being honest, relevant, and covering the issues concerning social networking in education. I don’t know of any weaknesses in this chapter except that I would like to see it updated to include some of the newer social networking sites.

How could teachers/educators use the material/information addressed in the chapters to help improve their instruction or professional development?

I think this is the wrong question. I think the proper question should be how could teachers “not” use this material for professional development. The issue of social networks in classrooms is such an enormous “hot-button” topic right now that there should be monthly and professional developments about responsible uses of social networking tools and other similar technologies. The stories in the article, the advice, and the other resources are all pertinent to educators today.

What future trends do you see coming from the topics dealt with in the chapters? In other words, do you think the material/information discussed in the chapters have any relevancy to the future or is it just a passing fad?

For better or worse, social networking is not going away. Authors like Ray Bradbury and Aldous Huxley spoke of these things 50 years ago and they were spot on.  People will always try to become more connected and more controlling of their own information and others. Social networking is the perfect opportunity to completely cut out any middle-men and go straight to the source of the information. Privacy and personal knowledge is passing and all is becoming public. Though social networking has many great aspects, I am not a fan of the complete connectivity that a socially networked life has to offer. It could be that I’m a conspiracy theorist and it could be that my personality is an INFP. Whatever the reason, I do not see social networking going away and I’m not too thrilled about it. 🙂

What you learned from reading these chapters? If the articles did not reveal any new information, explain what you already know about the topic and how you gained that knowledge (e.g., experience, word-of-mouth, research).

I learned a great deal from another researcher’s perspective about how people deal with social networking interactions. I do not often think of the moral implications and how they differ from one to another. I generally think that people would or should understand when an educational institution does something that it truly feels is in the best interest of the student. I guess I forgot too quickly the “mama bear” attitude that many parents and guardians have over their children.  The legal implications and moral implications of these tools are great and this article did a wonderful job of bringing those to light.

Did you feel the chapters helped in your understanding of the use of technology in education? Explain why or why not. Did anything confuse you? Did the chapters leave more questions for you?

This article/chapter did a great deal to help bring issues to light that I haven’t thought about before concerning social networking. Naivety is dangerous when dealing with such a powerful and personal tool. I guess I feel now that we have to do some major research about this kind of tool before embarking on an educational venture too hastily. This chapter gave me lots to think about and will serve as a reference for many of my questions in the future I’m sure.

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About Michael T.

I'm a student in the Instructional Technology and Design Ph.D. program at Southern Miss. I'm also working as a multimedia developer at the Learning Enhancement Center on campus at Southern Miss. I'm married and have a 3 year old daughter. I enjoy all kinds of technology, but especially graphic design, interactive web (flash), and high quality multimedia (audio and video) technologies.

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