3 C’s of Social Networking in Education: Context

To conclude my series on the three C’s of social networking in education, I will now attempt to examine a rather ambiguous concept: context.

Context is pretty ambiguous because I can’t really give you a range of steps on how to determine what the context is in your particular educational situation. Your context is your context, and it is different from my context or anyone’s for that matter. But those differences are important and crucial in determining which social networking tool you use and how you use it.

For you theoretical types out there who think I have missed the big “P” word, I hate to break it to you: I am using the term “context” in place of the term “pedagogy.” I’ve noticed that recently I’ve been growing tired of the word pedagogy, even though for a while I couldn’t tell you exactly why. Then George Siemens published a blog entry called “Pedagogy First? Whatever” that pretty much helped me realize what my problem was. I can pretty much sum up my feeling with one quote from Mr. Siemens: “if you want to create your very own pedagogy, you can likely find research that supports it.” I can create a sound pedagogy for flogging students with a rusty slinky if I tried hard enough. So just asking if a certain social networking tool is pedagogically sound will really mean nothing.

What you really need to ask yourself is: “will this tool be the right option for the context of my class and the outcomes that I desire for this activity?” Hopefully Mr. Siemens is not as uptight about the AP is with quoting, but here is some more meat from his excellent post:

“Few Utopian situations exist where our decisions on how to teach can be based exclusively on pedagogy. Resources, expertise, technology, needs (of learners, educators, society), and funds impact what we choose to do. In a world: context. The mix of multiple, mutually influencing factors determine what we types of technology we select.”

Determining your particular context maybe easy in some cases and difficult in others. See this page on Evaluating Context for some helpful guidelines.

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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