A social networking site can become a form of personal portfolio. "Friending" can become a PLN (personal learning network). If we connect with others who have like-minded interests (educationally), we therefore promote a greater network which we can access: collegial relationships. Leveraging the power gained from colleague-friending.
Social networks need good forums in order to be educationally productive: ning allows for this piece, for example. Power of video is also important: ability to upload visuals that could work in a portfolio fashion. In other words, whereas use of video/visuals in social networking kind of scared us (think: inappropriate visuals), the same concept can be used positively in an educational networking space.
Groups hold much promise: think professional development, learning teams, and self-created communities. See PBL - Better with Practice by Jane Krauss.
Social networking + LMS (learning management systems) + live collaboration
Steve thinks the aforementioned will merge and become the "larger framework".
Benefits to educational/social networking:
- allows authentic, peer-driven learning and professional development
- provides emotional support and reduces isolation
- allows visibility of practice within a community
- facilitates networked and community learning
- fosters creativity and perspective
- provides for engagement, participation, and action
- re-energizes personal learning (t-shirt idea: "personal cognitive revolution")
- increases global connectivity (see globaleducationconference.com)
- draws us into humanity's "great conversations"
Another benefit: education reform can be seen now as an internal, rather than external, reform
Lessons that Steve has learned with these networks:
- it's all about the users (valued activities: listening, testing, experimenting, looking for input, etc)
- facilitate and support the process, not the outcome (build a park, not a cafeteria). Don't mandate! Listen! Engagement trumps content!
- be authentic (act like a friend, and people respond)
- start with educators and administrators first (don't implement it in the classroom if you haven't used it with faculty)
- support and promote the early adopters (more important than you are!)
- allow for failure (including your own, as you look for real needs)
- build your culture and recognize the importance of interpersonal ("soft") skills