Recently I presented with Jonathan Bartels, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Joan Rhodes, Virginia Commonwealth University on the literacy practices of social networks. Below is a summary of that presentation.
Social Networks are becoming a powerful tool to transform the classroom. Instead of learning about a discipline we can utilize the affordances of social networks to have students learn to be a discipline.
What really sets Mendeley apart from all the other options for saving and indexing your PDFs is their online presence. The desktop version of Mendeley you can download and it will clean up, organize, and index the files on your machine. When you sync your library to their servers, you can then log in to your dashboard on Mendeley.
What follows is part social network, part shared library, part remote access to your library files. You can share your collections...and grow your collections...with other researchers.
You can also search to see what others are reading about, or what they may have published. Mendeley offers a small amount of free space to host your files online...this usually is enough to host your own materials. They also offer more space for a relatively small fee.
Social Networks in the Classroom
Use a social network to teach argumentative writing. Part of the challenge of teaching academic discourse and writing practices is contextualize writing. Rick Beach has done some great work using social networks to support argumentative writing.
If you were exploring climate literacy you could have students play as three characters: a coal conglomerate, an environmentalist, and a chamber of commerce member. Each character could then build a page on a social network. They could critique a source that does not support their position and then add sources that support their position.
Moving beyond Discussion Boards
As students add profiles, videos, and status updates you build a classroom not just a Q and A Discussion.
Too often our eportfolios are becoming a tool for simply showcasing and caegorizing student work. We can use social networks like Mahara
residue of learning that comes through participating.
Researching Social Networks
Content Analysis Protocol- Document the frequency and types of personal, identifying, and contact information they included (e.g., identification of real name, hometown, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, interests, and identifying image). Examine the use of various technical features, such frequency of blog use (if applicable) and blog topics as well as the presence of various visual media (e.g., videos, photos, music player). Note others’ comments on their pages, including the number of comments, topics commented on, and number of friends in their network. (Greenhowe and Robeila, 2006)