The first article that was interesting to me was Editorial: Examining Social Software in Teacher Education by Richard Ferdig, which analyzed the benefits and drawbacks of Social Software. This journal article helped me familiarize what Social Software encompasses. We often think of Facebook and Twitter as examples, but I learned that Social Software is basically technology that promotes social networking and communication between people in interconnected groups. The article mentioned that Social Software naturally serves constructivism. This kind of learning is student-centered. Learning is richer when students are able to construct their own meaning from the material and concepts. I reflected on this online graduate program and this course. Would I get a more enriching learning experience with no interaction with others? The virtual forums, discussions, and blog posts in our course promote an open dialogue and cooperative learning. This in turn cross pollinates to the other students and provides further opportunities for more knowledge to be shared and learned. Everyone in our cohort is adding their insights to the entire learning experience. The Social Software like blogs, provide a platform for every student to have a voice and space to express thoughts. It promotes a more democratic discussion. Sometimes in a traditional classroom a few students dictate the open discussion and some students who might be less eager to participate do not have as many opportunities to share their thoughts.
In addition, this article made me think about how we can utilize this Social Software with the students we teach. Some of my concerns are balancing the formal and informal aspects of Social Software. We have a responsibility to set guidelines, etiquette, and parameters of acceptable behavior when utilizing it. As a teacher you want to have control of your classroom and good discipline established with your students. The challenge is to have clear expectations and boundaries clearly set with Social Software while still encouraging freedom for students to collaborate, express themselves, and interact. This means as teachers we need to continue to strive to take a more facilitator role. The article mentioned that it’s not a question of whether Social networking is good or bad, but learning how to use it responsibly and in ways that promote learning.
The second article that was intriguing for me was Web, Library, and Teen Services 2.0 by Kimberly Bolan, Meg Canada, and Rob Cullin. This article helped familiarize me with what the phrase 2.0 means for the web and for libraries. I learned that Web 2.0 is the second generation of the Internet. I have heard the term 2.0 in conversations and even in songs, but really didn’t understand what it encompasses. The author of the article described Web 2.0 as more dynamic, user-friendly, and interactive with material having social platforms for communication with others. They describe Web 1.0 as the first generation of the Internet where it was a more static interface and less interactive. In order to remain relevant and serve its burgeoning teen demographic the libraries of today need to adapt to the Web 2.0 by evolving themselves into Library 2.0. This will be a challenge as many libraries and their staff might be reluctant to relinquish some control of how their services are shared and utilized. I can think back to my experiences in libraries growing up and they could be cumbersome and like the authors pointed out “very static, sterile, and vanilla” based with services and their physical environment.
I think if libraries want to serve their users better they need to update to the 2.0 model with a more interactive, open space environment that is inviting and customer-driven. Sometimes, people think a library is updated and 2.0 if it has computers and some technology tools. After reading this article libraries need to personalize content to library members, whether it be wikis, blogs, podcasts, and instant messages or email alerts. Libraries also need to provide an updated, fresh and inviting atmosphere for members like teens and other technological savvy library members. If the libraries can update their physical environment it will attract more members. When the environment is less cluttered and provides choice for multiple activities like gaming, video casts, and collaboration meetings virtually or physically, it satisfies the member’s needs.
The third article that piqued my interest was Social Networking by Alfred C. Weaver and Benjamin B. Morrison. The authors make a point in regard to social networking creating an evolution to how we interact and communicate with others. What I learned is that social networking has been around for a long time, before we had Web 2.0 technology. The difference now is the platform and tools we utilize to carry out social networking.
One of the concepts that I found interesting was the paradigm shift in how information is created and shared. During the early stages of the World Wide Web it was a top-down model, whereby the internet media corporations and moguls controlled how information was disseminated. This has changed over time, and evolved with the Web 2.0 technology to where it is a bottom-up social networking model now. The end-user or individual web users now have the freedom and autonomy to share ideas with everyone on the web, and for that matter off-line as well. Consumers now have more choice and can use various social networking platforms to express themselves and connect with people.
The authors of the article make a valid point about how the bottom-up approach with its freedom for the end user also has a privacy issue. Social networking has the value of connecting others, but just like human interaction in a non-virtual environment there needs to be rules and etiquette. Otherwise, social networking sites and tools can undermine their consumers and ultimately be a detriment to their success as a business entity.