Big Brother Is Everyone: Social Networking

Even though social networking is not new, new social networking services seems to going in all kinds of new directions this year. Blogs and discussion boards seem to have been the prototype social networks. Then MySpace and Facebook made networking an official force on the Internet. Facebook had one feature that gave users the ability to update friends about what they are currently doing, any minute of the day. Many social networking sites seem to be taking this one feature and running like crazy with it.

Twitter has been the big hit recently. Basically, all day long, you keep answering the same question: what are you going now? No matter how boring or crazy, you can find people answering that question. And creating all kinds of applications to do something with all of these answers (Twittervision is my favorite so far).

Jaiku seems to copy Twitter and add some bells and whistles. And it’s much easier to figure out just what it is form the website. Jaiku calls itself a microblog in the description that shows up in Google. That might be an interesting concept to explore.

Kyte seems to be one that could be either creepy or addictive, depending on your personal tastes. Basically, you create your own personal TV-channel online, and then use your cell phone to provide content. Connect with your friends for even more content. There are a ton of features listed on the site, so I recommend checking out the cheesy intro video on the site. This site makes me wonder – is this the future of podcasts and vodcasts? The intro video makes it seem more interesting than you average podcast or vodcast.

So, the question is – can any of these really be used in education? Katrina and I have been experimenting with Twitter, but haven’t had any great ideas for educational uses. But you just look at it and think: “there has got to be something.” Any ideas?

We’re looking at how these sites work, and working on some kind of “demo” area for all of the tools that we explore (so you can see what they do). Hopefully, we can get that going soon.

Matt Crosslin
Matt is currently the Learning Innovation Coordinator with the UT Arlington LINK Research Lab. His research focuses on Learning Theory, Innovation, and learner empowerment. Matt holds a Ph.D. in Learning Technologies from the University of North Texas, a Master of Education in Educational Technology from UT Brownsville, and a Bachelors of Science in Education from Baylor University. His research interests include instructional design, learning pathways, sociocultural theory, heutagogy, virtual reality, and open networked learning. He has a background in instructional design and teaching at both the secondary and university levels and has been an active blogger and conference presenter. He also enjoys networking and collaborative efforts involving faculty, students, administration, and anyone involved in the education process.

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