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Social Networks in Education

Steve C. Yuen, Ph.D.

The University of Southern Mississippi
Patrivan K. Yuen
Technical Services/Systems Librarian
William Carey University

E-Learn 2008 Conference, Las Vegas, Nevada

November 20, 2008
What is a Social Network?
• A social network is an online service for
communities of people who share an interest
with one another to collaborate.
• A social network service focuses on building
online communities of people who share interests
and activities, or who are interested in exploring
the interests and activities of others. Most social
network services are web based and provide a
variety of ways for users to interact, such as e-
mail and instant messaging services (Wikipedia).
Barnett: Social Networking March 8, 2008
Universities and Social Networking.
Key Emerging Technologies
• User-Created Content
• Social Networking
• Mobile Phones
• Virtual Words
• The New Scholarship and
Emerging Forum of publication
• Massively Multiplayer
Educational Gaming

The Horizon Report, 2007 Edition,

Popular Social Networks




Pew Internet & American Life Project
• 2007 National Study
– 55% all online American Youth between the age of
12 and 17 use social networking sites for
Pew Internet & American Life Project
Creating and Connecting Project by
National School Boards Association
• Online survey of about 1,300 American kids (9 to 17 years)
and over 1,000 parents, and telephone interviews with more
than 200 school district officials in 2007
– Students are spending almost as much time using social
networking services and Web sites as they spend watching TV
– 96% of students with Internet access engage in social networking
– 60% of students say they use the social networking tools to
discuss classes, learning outside school, and planning for college
– Students report using text messaging, blogging, and online
communities such as Facebook and MySpace for educational
activities, including collaboration on school projects.
Social Networking Research in UK
• Despite the fact that the minimum age for most major
social networking sites is usually 13, 27% of 8-11 year
olds who are aware of social networking sites say that
they have a profile on a site.
• The majority of adults who had used a social
networking site had a profile on Facebook (62%) and
this was the most mentioned main social networking
site (49%).
• Two-thirds of parents claim to set rules about their
child’s use of social networking sites, although only
53% of children said that their parents set such rules.
Social Networking Research in UK

• Only a few users highlighted negative aspects of social

• Facebook is the most popular site with adults followed
by MySpace and then Bebo.
• For children aged between 8 and 17, Bebo was the most
used social networking site.
• Some teenagers and adults in their early twenties
reported feeling ‘addicted’ to social networking sites and
were aware that their use was squeezing their study time.
Social Networks in Education
• Provide a casual place of learning
• Encourage students to express their own
• Provide effective collaboration and
• Enhance students’ learning experiences
• Build an online learning community
• Offer immersion in a foreign language
A Case Study
• Designing and teaching a course that involved the
use of a social network
• Purposes
– Obtained specific information about the process of the
social network instructional approach
– Investigated students’ perceptions on the use of social
networking in education

• 13 students enrolled in a graduate course in

educational technology
• The course was offered in a blended learning or
hybrid format
Design of Social Network
• Ning was chosen as an online platform to create a class
social networking site
• Allowed students to create their own profiles; upload
photos, audio, podcasts, and videos, create and join
discussion groups, send messages and publish blogs and
• Designed for private use
• Only class members in the course were invited to join
the class social network
• No guest or outsider was allowed to join and participate
in the social network.
• Introduced social networking concept and the social
networking site in the beginning of the course
• Provided hands-on demonstration on using the social network
• Invited students to join the respective social network
• Required students to create a personal profile
• Encouraged students to post personal media and personal
blog, podcasts, and videos related to the course content to the
social network
• Held bi-weekly class discussions in the forum
• Encouraged students to form groups for other personal or
class activities
• Completed a survey at the end of semester

Item M SD

1. I feel comfortable using the class social networking site. 3.08 0.76

2. My class social networking site allows me to interact and build a 3.46 0.51
learning community.
3. My class social networking site allows me to personalize pages to 3.62 0.51
express individuality and creativity.
4. My class social networking site allows me to pose questions to the 3.54 0.52
5. My class social networking site allows me to share photos, music, 3.62 0.51
and videos.
6. My class social networking site allows me to hold forums to 3.62 0.51
discuss topics of interest.
Item M SD

7. My class social networking site allows me to find and share 3.62 0.51
educational resources.
8. My class social networking site allows me to create study groups. 3.62 0.51

9. My class social networking site allows me to communicate with 3.62 0.51

classmates about course-related topics.
10. My class social networking site encourages learner-centered 3.46 0.52
11. My class social networking site provides collaborative learning 3.38 0.51
12. My class social networking site gives me a sense of belonging. 3.08 0.76
Item M SD

13. My class social networking site promotes knowledge sharing. 3.38 0.51

14. My class social networking site is user-friendly. 3.54 0.52

15. Social networking is a great tool for class communications. 3.69 0.48

16. Social networking can be used for professional development. 3.62 0.51

17. I will become more actively involved in courses that use social 3.77 0.44
18. I would like to see more social networking class sites used in other 3.65 0.51
• Increasing interest in the use of social networking in
• Students in the course welcome the opportunity to
experience and explore the use of social network in
teaching and learning
• Students found the class social networking site was user-
friendly and gave them a sense of belonging
• Students had positive experience of using social networks
in learning
• Students felt more actively involved in the course that
use social networking