Social Networking and Education: Emerging Research within CSCL
Abstract: In this paper I introduce a youth-initiated practice: online social networking that is transforming our society in important ways and has vast implications for learning research and education. I introduce the social and technical features that characterize social networking systems and outline results from emerging research that suggests the social and intellectual practices in which participants naturally engage and how these relate to the competencies increasingly valued in formal education. Next, I discuss one research projects which I am currently pursuing that build on early work and suggest how educational ...view middle of the document...
Peppler and Kafai (2007) investigated youth’s creative media production after-school with Scratch design software to suggest new directions for media literacy education, and Barron (2006) tested a learning ecology framework to ultimately address inequities in school-based learning opportunities.
In this vein, I introduce another youth-initiated technology-enabled practice: online social networking that is transforming our society in important ways and has vast implications for educational research and pedagogy. In this paper, I introduce the social and technical features that characterize such systems. Next, I outline results from emerging research that suggest the social and intellectual practices in which participants naturally engage and how these relate to the competencies increasingly valued in formal education. I discuss one research projects which I am currently pursuing that build on this research and suggest how educational programs might employ such capacities to advantage. In closing, I discuss what I see as the educative value of this technology and suggest a course for future research and development efforts. My overall goals in this paper are to inform other researchers interested in pursuing similar projects and to stimulate interdisciplinary conversation about where such agendas fit within and advance the aims of CSCL research.
Social Networking Sites(SNS): A definition
According to boyd & Ellison (2007) an online social network site is a “web-based service that allows individuals to (1) construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system, (2) articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and (3) view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system” (p. 1). Other terms used to characterize such services are social digital technologies (Palfrey & Gasser, 2008), participatory media (Bull et al., 2008) and social media (Barnes, 2006). Whereas this term “social network” site seems to reflect the fact that these sites represent existing social bonds, another term commonly used, “social networking” implies that people use these websites in order to forge new networks. For instance, LinkedIn is a social networking site tailored to business people seeking to make contact with those within and outside of their usual network of colleagues and customers. Other sites, such as Facebook and MySpace, have features that support maintaining existing social bonds, such as the ability to join online groups of people who are already in one’s offline
network (e.g., a high school alumni group, a sports team, etc.), as well as creating new bonds (e.g., the browsing feature, groups feature, etc.). In this paper, I use the term social networking site (SNS) to describe an online Web-based service with the features described above and through which users maintain existing social ties and develop new ties with people outside their network (Jones, Millermaier, Goya-Martinez, &...