What are Social Networks?

Today’s web users are prolific creators of content, and they upload photographs, audio, and video to cloud-based social networks, such as Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, and many others by the billions. While the initial emphasis of social networks was placed on producing and uploading media to these popular sharing sites, as the notion of social media has evolved it has ultimately become more about the conversations started and relationships formed via this media. When users log in to Facebook and Twitter, two of the sites that have the most subscribers and daily traffic, they are there to see what their family, friends, and favorite brands and organizations are doing and who is talking about what. For educational institutions, social media enables two-way dialogues between students, prospective students, educators, and the institution that are less formal than with other media. New tools, such as Facebook’s social search engine, promise to mine these interactions using a concept known as the social graph. A person’s social graph represents the sum of all of a person’s online social connections (who he or she is friends with, who likes the things she or her friends are interested in, who among those connections is where, etc.) and provides a means to search and navigate those connections. Social graphs can be visualized in a variety of interesting ways, but far more interesting is the information embedded within the social graph and what it can tell us.

INSTRUCTIONS: Enter your responses to the questions below. This is most easily done by moving your cursor to the end of the last item and pressing RETURN to create a new bullet point. Please include URLs whenever you can (full URLs will automatically be turned into hyperlinks; please type them out rather than using the linking tools in the toolbar).

Please "sign" your contributions by marking with the code of 4 tildes (~) in a row so that we can follow up with you if we need additional information or leads to examples- this produces a signature when the page is updated, like this: - Larry Larry Feb 8, 2012

1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • We are using Twitter feeds to compliment professional development certificate programs to build a sustainable learning community in specific fields. - deborah.cooke deborah.cooke Oct 12, 2015
  • As we increasingly conceptualize knowledge on the neural level as a network, the social network increasingly becomes a stand-in and model for knowledge. Knowing becomes identified with making connections, building a network, and so visualizing our social interactions becomes another way for us to visualize and think about knowledge and how it's constructed, shaped, socially-constructed and -mediated--with all the issues of privilege and access this implies.- edward.oneill edward.oneill Oct 24, 2015

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • Maybe this is a particularly German perspective, but protection of privacy is a very strong issue here, so I assume not many people would be happy about the social graph and other people (who are not family and friends) knowing about it. So while the possibilities are huge I believe that there are also reservations- helga helga Oct 6, 2015
  • We also worry about security and FERPA issues. In our system, our Twitter feed is behind a protected password login.
  • It's implicit in the above but could be more explicit: social networks are often resource hosts--and vice-versa. Sites which host extensive media content become a postmodern library-cum-encyclopedia. People to got Youtube to learn and to Flickr to do visual research. Traditional publishing venues wane as social resource sites expand: the resource host thus becomes (in addition) the postmodern magazine/journal. - edward.oneill edward.oneill Oct 24, 2015

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on higher education?

  • I like the idea of building sustainable learning communities that can continue to share ideas and build knowledge long after they've completed a cohort based course. - deborah.cooke deborah.cooke Oct 12, 2015
  • It's part of the course now. Show evidence of your social media. - michael.lambert michael.lambert Oct 16, 2015

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

  • add your response here
  • add your response here

Please share information about related projects in our Horizon Project Sharing Form.