Social Media & its Implications for Education
© Copyright Kate Carruthers 2009www.katecarruthers.com
There are three areas that are relevant to both our society in general and to us aseducators in particular. They are: (1) the overall landscape in which we are operating;(2) the social implications of the changes being driven by technology and how we areusing it; and (3) the changing models that are beginning to impact on educationalpractice.
Before we leap into a look at the landscape it is important to clarify some things aboutweb 2.0 and some key trends that are impacting on the landscape. Key points aboutweb 2.0 are that:1.
It is not new technology – the technology stack is decades old in many cases2.
It is new ways of using older technology – we are putting the technologytogether differently enabled by reasonable broadband access3.
It is not using the old mindset where technology was the province of gurus –now any script kiddie can make things happen with technology4.
It is democratizing technology – this is breaking down the old cabals of experts5.
It is applying new business models – we are seeing this with companies likeGoogle and Facebook In terms of the broader landscape I have identified five macro trends that are shapingboth computing and our world at present:
Next Generation Internet – semantics, contextual, geo-aware
New interfaces – gesture, haptic, auditory, human-computer, voice userinterfaces
Hardware - Virtualization , cloud computing enabled by solid state drives,blade technology
Social computing - It’s here and it will continue to grow
Ubiquitous computing - Wearable, networks, convergenceOf these I will concentrate on social computing and the next generation internet asthey are driving a lot of change that is impacting on the education sector.But probably the biggest change over the past thirty years is the rate of change. Onceit was completely acceptable to wait a week for a letter to arrive, to ponder one’sresponse for a few days and then write and dispatch a letter by post. Then the faxmachine changed all of that. Now we receive emails immediately followed by a phonecall asking why we have not yet responded.The pace of change is increasing and has increased substantially over the past 30years. Look at the mobile phone as an example of this. From the time the telephonewas invented until the mid-1980s it remained recognisably the same device. Now, to aperson who last saw a telephone in 1980, the iPhone or SmartPhone would not evenseem to be in the same family of devices. And, indeed they are not. The modernmobile phone is really converged computing, telecommunications and entertainmentdevice. They even have more memory than my first server.The next thing to consider is the revolution of the internet. Originally conceived as abulwark against nuclear war and as a way for academic researchers to communicate it