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Social Networking:

Media Literacy and Learning Michelle Blunk ETC 567: Technology, Society, and Education Professor Mary Lane-Kelso February 15, 2010

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Abstract The evolution of Internet and computer technology affects the way we live and the way we learn. Anytime, anywhere access to information is now part of life and learners expect such experiences to be a part of their educational opportunities. Engaging in Online Social Networking makes it possible for users to develop knowledge and learn the skills required to participate in the new forms of socialization available in the digital age. The knowledge revolution has transformed our jobs, our homes, our lives, and therefore must also transform our schools. This means that educators must understand the role of media literacy in learning and successfully apply it to their purpose of teaching. Educators must be trained, certified, and supported in order for them to be media literate and acquire the ability to create, contribute, and engage in the benefits. We are just beginning to see the impact of social media on society.

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Social Networking: Media Literacy and Learning

Technology has reached a point where nearly anyone who has access, has a voice. This voice is communicated through social media, can be extremely powerful, and can force individuals, companies, and communities to change the way they behave. Research of the history and sociology of technology proves that technological development is not predictable or linear and we are just starting to see the influence of social media on society (Kirby, 2010).

Media is defined as a form of communication and is used to influence a multitude of people. Literacy is being able to read or write. Media literacy is the ability to read and recognize

the communication that you are presented. Therefore,

“. . .

media literacy is more than being able

to use the latest technology to access information, it is how you critique and analyze the

information for making sound, wise judgments” (Carr, 2009).

According to Kellner and Share, (2004) media literacy is critical to understand:

[It] expands the notion of literacy to include different forms of mass communication and popular culture as well as deepens the potential of education to critically analyze relations between media and audiences, information and power. It involves cultivating skills in analyzing media codes and conventions, abilities to criticize stereotypes, dominant values, and ideologies, and competencies to interpret the multiple meanings and messages generated by media texts. Media literacy helps people to discriminate and evaluate content, to critically dissect media forms, to investigate media effects and uses, to use media intelligently, and to construct alternative media (as cited by Carr, 2009).

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The changes in technology show a movement from traditional and closed environments to open connected environments with Web 2.0 tools. This paper will analyze how social networking relates to the educational foundations of today, its current use, and what it may offer education tomorrow. Media Literacy is mentioned throughout as a means to better understand the impact technology has in our world and how connecting with each other creates knowledge. “Connectivism” is considered the new approach to learning by the use of social networking technology (Mentis, 2007).

Current Issues Halverson’s (2009) review of the article, “How New Technologies Have (and Have Not) Changed Teaching and Learning in Schools,” focuses on two technologies today that affect teaching and learning. One is instructor directed “technologies for learning” such as virtual charter schools, and the other is client-directed “technologies for learners” like video games and social networking Web sites. Interest in distance learning demands continual improvement in the development of these virtual environments (Daneshgar & Van Toorn, 2007). The uses of traditional methods of teaching and learning are now being challenged by instructor directed “technologies for learning” such as WebCT Vista. This learning atmosphere provides a virtual workspace where social networking takes place. In this online educational setting, dialog and structured discussions are a means to socialize and engage in learning. This kind of schooling is also offered by virtual charter models. This new alternative provides curriculum to home learners through advanced technologies within the charter school setting, allowing for innovation, freedom from traditional structure, and tuition-free education for students” (Klein & Poplin, p. 369).

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Client-directed ‘technologies for learners’ includes co-authoring of content and the sense of belonging to various online social networks and learning communities through the use of tools like wikis, blogs and podcasts. Media also reaches audiences world-wide in the form of virtual archives. The Golden Bridge Virtual Exhibition recreated the Heatherbank Museum of Social Work public exhibition on the theme of historic child migration from Scotland to Canada between 1869 and 1939. This example of social networking includes a map of the migration journey taken by the children with clips of witness testimony from the Living Histories film, audio narrative giving historical background information, and the Testimony Tree with audio of home children’s experiences. (http://www.iriss.org.uk/goldenbridge/index.html) Online Social Networking can be fun and entertaining for students. It appears that students socialize to the extreme and probably go to Google instead of an encyclopedia. Ward (2008) wants us to realize that this online generation takes ownership and preference to being a creator than just viewing what has been created for them. Social Networking creates a community and expands a learner’s experience by communicating with anyone from around the world. A vast majority of school leaders are not sure how these technologies can be, or should be, used in schools, but educators have the responsibility to prepare students to transition to adult life with the skills they need to succeed with and without technology. Today’s educators must begin to understand the role of digital media in learning and incorporate media literacy in their instruction, as it is obvious that young people are already fluent in Web 2.0 technologies (Carr, 2009; Halverson, 2009). Social networking is increasingly used as a communications and collaboration tool of choice and can it be an effective teaching tool capable of producing the desired learning outcome.

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Technology and Society A survey conducted by The National School Boards Association and Grunwald Associates LLC on popular social networking activities, indicates that today’s youth are “collaborating and utilizing their creative skills that may eventually outweigh watching television.”

Social Networking 6 Technology and Society A survey conducted by The National School Boards Association andOnline social networking is now so deeply embedded in the lifestyles of tweens and teens that it rivals television for their attention, according to a new study from Grunwald Associates LLC conducted in cooperation with the National School Boards Association . Note: Nine-to-17-year-olds report spending almost as much time using social networking services and Web sites as they spend watching television. Among teens, that amounts to about 9 hours a week on social networking activities, compared to about 10 hours a week watching TV. Retrieved February 10, 2010 from http://www.masternewmedia.org/learning_educational_technologies/social-networking/social- " id="pdf-obj-5-11" src="pdf-obj-5-11.jpg">

Figure 1 - Online social networking is now so deeply embedded in the lifestyles of tweens and teens that it rivals television for their attention, according to a new study from Grunwald Associates LLC conducted in cooperation with the National School Boards Association. Note: Nine-to-17-year-olds report spending almost as much time using social networking services and Web sites as they spend watching television. Among teens, that amounts to about 9 hours a week on social networking activities, compared to about 10 hours a week watching TV.

Retrieved February 10, 2010 from

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Online Social Networking is the norm for the majority of youth outside of school but most schools are cautious about its use in school and have rules against social networking activities.It may be assumed by high school administration that new forms of entertainment, such as video games and internet access could have possible social effects on academic performance. In fact, the term Technicism has been used to define an over reliance or overconfidence in technology as a

benefactor of society. These being some of the negative approaches to Online Social Networking, brings us to focus on the critical need to teach and learn of media literacy. As with any educational tool, teachers using social networking will need to strive to use it in a way that benefits students learning. Rheingold (2007) describes the importance of teaching our youth media literacy:

We teach our kids how to cross the street and what to be careful about in the physical

world. And now parents need to teach their kids how to exercise good sense online. It's really no more technical than reminding your children not to give out their personal information to strangers on the telephone or the street. When it comes to helping them learn how to be citizens in a democracy, media literacy education is central to 21 st century civic education. Making connections between the literacy’s students pick up simply by being young in the 21st century and those best learned through reading and discussing texts is an appropriate role for teachers today.

Brokaw (2008) is concerned that students are not being taught by trained educators and wants them to see the big picture. “When I talk to young people these days I am inclined to remind them that global poverty will not be eliminated by hitting the delete button, that climate

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change will not be stopped by hitting backspace. It will do us little good to wire the world if we short circuit our souls.” I believe that social networking is the way of the future in our efforts to educate and collaborate on a global scale. It will provide students with increased social cognition and motivation in future classrooms. Educators must become educated in the power of its use for advancing the education process.

Conclusion Online Social Networking can be a useful technological tool to benefit society. Becoming media literate as a whole will create a global opportunity for advancing the educational process in our fast-paced world. We are just starting to see the influence of social media on society and the role of digital media in learning. As the minds of educators are opened to the vast opportunity social networking can contribute to the design of instruction, using Web 2.0 tools will bring productivity, communication, and collaboration to the foundations of education in a worldly way.

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References Brocaw, T. (2008, April 2). Life is not virtual [Video]. Massachusetts Institute of Technology:

MIT World. Retrieved from http://mitworld.mit.edu/video/549 Carr, P. R. (2009). Political conscientization and media (il)iteracy. Multicultural Education, 17(1), 2-10. Daneshgar, F. & Van Toorn, C. (2007). Exploring WebCT-vista capabilities for supporting students' graduate attributes during online collaborative learning. International Journal of Diversity in Organisations, Communities & Nations, 7(2), 25-31. Halverson, E. R. (Winter 2009–10). Digital literacy’s and the future of schools. Journal of Computing in Teacher Education, 26(2). Kirby, D. (2010). The future is now: Diegetic prototypes and the role of popular films in generating real-world technological development. (pp. 41-70) Klein, C. & Poplin, M. (2008). Families home schooling in a virtual charter school system. Marriage & Family Review, 43(3), 369-395. Mentis, M. (2007). Different technologies for differentiated education: Social networks, identity and diversity in e-learning. International Journal of Diversity in Organisations, Communities & Nations, 7(3), 85-93. Rheingold, H. (2007). Vision of the future – Howard Rheingold’s presentation. Speech at education.au’s final seminar for 2007. Melbourne, Australia. Retrieved February 1, 2010 from http://www.educationau.edu.au/sites/default/files/Rheingold_Melbourne_Speech.pdf

Technicism. (2008, September 25). Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved February 14, 2010, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Technicism&oldid=240968899

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Ward, A. (2008, September) Are you ready for the next generation technology? American School Board Journal,195(9).