Educational Benefits of Social Networking Sites Uncovered

Educational Benefits of Social Networking Sites Uncovered

Educational Benefits Of Social Networking Sites Uncovered

ScienceDaily- June 20, 2008

In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers at the University of Minnesota have discovered the educational benefits of social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook. The same study found that low-income students are in many ways just as technologically proficient as their counterparts, going against what results from previous studies have suggested.

The study found that, of the students observed, 94 percent used the Internet, 82 percent go online at home and 77 percent had a profile on a social networking site. When asked what they learn from using social networking sites, the students listed technology skills as the top lesson, followed by creativity, being open to new or diverse views and communication skills.

Data were collected over six months this year from students, ages 16 to 18, in thirteen urban high schools in the Midwest. Beyond the surveyed students, a follow-up, randomly selected subset were asked questions about their Internet activity as they navigated MySpace, an online forum that provides users with e-mail, web communities and audio and video capabilities.

"What we found was that students using social networking sites are actually practicing the kinds of 21st century skills we want them to develop to be successful today," said Christine Greenhow, a learning technologies researcher in the university's College of Education and Human Development and principal investigator of the study. "Students are developing a positive attitude towards using technology systems, editing and customizing content and thinking about online design and layout. They're also sharing creative original work like poetry and film and practicing safe and responsible use of information and technology. The Web sites offer tremendous educational potential."

Greenhow said that the study's results, while proving that social networking sites offer more than just social fulfillment or professional networking, also have implications for educators, who now have a vast opportunity to support what students are learning on the Web sites.

"Now that we know what skills students are learning and what experiences they're being exposed to, we can help foster and extend those skills," said Greenhow. "As educators, we always want to know where our students are coming from and what they're interested in so we can build on that in our teaching. By understanding how students may be positively using these networking technologies in their daily lives and where the as yet unrecognized educational opportunities are, we can help make schools even more relevant, connected and meaningful to kids."

Interestingly, researchers found that very few students in the study were actually aware of the academic and professional networking opportunities that the Web sites provide. Making this opportunity more known to students, Greenhow said, is just one way that educators can work with students and their experiences on social networking sites.

The study also goes against previous research from Pew in 2005 that suggests a "digital divide" where low-income students are technologically impoverished. That study found that Internet usage of teenagers from families earning $30,000 or below was limited to 73 percent, which is 21 percentage points below what the U of M research shows.

The students participating in the U of M study were from families whose incomes were at or below the county median income (at or below $25,000) and were taking part in an after school program, Admission Possible, aimed at improving college access for low-income youth.

Greenhow suggests that educators can help students realize even more benefits from their social network site use by working to deepen students' still emerging ideas about what it means to be a good digital citizen and leader online.

"Educational Benefits of Social Networking Sites Uncovered." Science Daily. 20 Jun. 2008. Web. 26 Oct. 2011.

------Social Learning: Can Facebook and Related Tools Improve Educational Outcomes?

ScienceDaily May 9, 2011

Online social networking sites, such as Facebook, can help students become academically and socially integrated as well as improving learning outcomes, according to a study by researchers in China and Hong Kong. Writing in the International Journal of Networking and Virtual Organisations, explain that Facebook usage is around 90% across campuses and many educational institutions offer new students orientation on how to capitalize on social networking to improve their experience of their course and their final results.

Many previous studies of social networking have focused on identity presentation, privacy, and how social networks form. Much of the popular response to the advent of web 2.0 tools is that they can have a detrimental effect on students by being nothing more than trivial distractions from serious study. However, Stella Wen Tian of the University of Science & Technology of China (Suzhou Campus) and Angela Yan Yu, Douglas Vogel and Ron Chi-Wai Kwok of City University of Hong Kong, suggest that students' online social networking directly influences social learning and can positively influence academic learning.

The team carried out discussions with college students to understand current online social networking experience and attitude towards using Facebook for education. They hoped to understand the influence of online social networking and how educational institutions might improve pedagogical orientation and practices, especially given that peer pressure has been recognized in various studies as one of the most important influences on student life.

"The typical social network pattern on Facebook is often in a core-periphery mode: an individual has close relationships with core friends and weak relationships with many others," the team says. "Online social networking applications such as Facebook offer an efficient platform for college students' socialization by expanding their network scope and maintaining close relationships."

There were two main aspects of student Facebook use, the team found: one social and one educational. Students reported that it could enhance and maintain friendships, build social networks/establish virtual relationships , diminish barriers to making friends, follow peer trends, share photos, for fun and leisure and to keep in touch with family. In terms of learning, students reported that Facebook allowed them to connect with the faculty and other students in term of friendship/social relationship, provide comments to peers/share knowledge, share feelings with peers, join Groups established for subjects, collaboration: notification, discussion, course schedule, project management calendar and to use educational applications for organizing learning activities.

The team says that, "Facebook greatly influences college students' social life and shows good potential in coping with the challenges that students face." They conclude that, "Educational institutions may need to adopt active (but somewhat restrained) actions to utilize existing social network applications such as Facebook for education. Teaching activities will need to be appropriately designed for different target populations. The breakthrough point may start from students' social learning."

“Social Learning: Can Facebook and Related Tools Improve Educational Outcomes?” Science

Daily. 9 May 2011. Web. 27 Oct. 2011.


The New Rules of Online Job Hunting


Jan. 7, 2011

As any astute job seeker knows, the days of sitting on your duff 20, 30 or 40 hours a week while scouring the online job boards are over. But it's not enough to simply slap a profile on LinkedIn, or make a couple of pithy tweets, and wait to see whether any of your contacts announce an employment opening.

To truly be a web-savvy job seeker, you need to embrace the new rules of online job hunting. Follow them, and it could make the difference between a protracted employment hunt and starting your next gig before spring.

Using Job Boards as Research Tools

Forget about applying for work through the online jobs boards and posting your resume on them for all the recruiters of the world to see. Instead, the judicious job seeker uses online job sites for research only; sniffing out which companies are hiring, what sort of candidates they're looking for and what experience is required. Then she'll mine her LinkedIn, Facebook and other online networks for a contact who can make an introduction to a mover and shaker at the companies she's learned are hiring. Why send your resume into the void when you can have a real live person at the firm you're targeting pass along your resume for you?

Creating an Online Presence

Gone are the days of your resume being your self-promotion mainstay. Today it's all about earning a rock star reputation online. "Use blogs and social networks to communicate what makes you a special and attractive candidate. Attract the right job opportunities by explaining what you're passionate about and the types of jobs you're interested in," said personal branding expert Dan Schawbel, author of "Me 2.0: 4 Steps to Building Your Future."

Candidates who really want to stand out from the digital crowd may have to up the online ante, Schawbel added. Among his top suggestions: contributing articles to industry newsletters and websites, crafting a catchy video to promote your talents and creating a Google AdWords advertising campaign that points potential employers to your website.

Pre-Emptive Networking

Don't wait until you're looking for work to start schmoozing up a storm -- do it now. "Regardless of whether you are looking for a new job, aim to establish meaningful, one-on-one relationships with individuals who share your career interests and are a few steps ahead of you on the ladder," said workplace expert Alexandra Levit, whose books include "How'd Your Score That Gig?" and "New Job, New You." That way, you'll be ahead of the game next time you find yourself searching for work.

Think about it. How would you rather conduct your next job hunt? By e-mailing 30 of your most trusted industry colleagues that you're in the market for a new gig, or scrambling to first assemble that cadre of 30 close colleagues?

Seeking Out Hiring Managers

Why leave the ball entirely in the court of those doing the hiring if you don't have to? Rather than conducting a plain old passive job search, Schawbel recommends conducting "a people search." How?

1. Research which five to 10 companies you'd most like to work for.

2. Use Google and LinkedIn to figure out which positions at these firms best match your skills and experience, and to find employees on those teams or in those departments. (Get in-depth LinkedIn tips here.)

3. Use LinkedIn, Twitter and face-to-face professional events to get to know these employees. Avoid the temptation to ask if they can hook you up with a job.

4. Once you've established a rapport with someone at your target employer, ask them to help you set up an informational interview there and to forward your resume to those in the hiring seat. Even better if you've already done your contact a favor first.

"This way, you're connecting directly with people who can hire or refer you, which is the easiest path to getting a job," Schawbel explained. "This works much better than submitting your resume blindly into a recruiting database that won't even get looked at."

If you hit a dead end, don't give up. The more contacts you cultivate at your target companies, the better your odds of landing a position there. Happy New Year, and good hunting to all!

Goodman, Michelle. “The New Rules of Online Job Hunting.” ABC. 07 Jan. 2011. Web. 27 Oct.



Companies Are Erecting In-House Social Networks

Published: June 26, 2011

What would Facebook look like without photos of drunken nights out and tales of misbehaving cats? It might look a lot like the internal social network at the offices of Nikon Instruments.

The tone is decidedly businesslike, as employees exchange messages about customer orders, new products and closing deals. And the general rule is that “if you don’t want your company president to see it, don’t post it,” said John G. Bivona, a customer relations manager at Nikon Instruments, which makes microscopes.

As social networks increasingly dominate communications in private lives, businesses of all sizes — from tiny start-ups to midsize companies like Nikon to behemoths like Dell — are adopting them for the workplace. Although it is difficult to quantify how many companies use internal social networks, a number of corporate software companies have sensed the opportunity and offer various systems, some free to existing customers, others that charge a fee per user.

It’s one more instance of how consumer technology trends, like the use of tablet computers, are crossing into office life. Because of Facebook, most people are already comfortable with the idea of “following” their colleagues. But in the business world, the connections are between colleagues, not personal friends or family, and the communications are meant to be about work matters — like team projects, production flaws and other routine business issues.

At Nikon, for example, which employs 500 people in offices throughout the United States, Canada and Brazil, a code of conduct for using the service leaves little room for the idle chit-chat that is pervasive on Facebook.

Still, it can be tricky to transport the mores and practices of social networking into the office.

For instance, some workers prefer to be “lurkers” who read posts rather than write them. Others are just not interested. At Symantec, the computer security company, a few employees initially disliked the idea of an internal social network, but nevertheless used it to air their complaints.

Another issue is how to protect corporate secrets. The systems are generally set up so that companies can determine who sees particular files and who belongs to specific groups on the network. Yet problems still arise over where the data is ultimately stored. Some social network providers use their own servers. But that may conflict with the rules of some potential clients that prohibit storing company information outside their firewall, said Susan Landry, an analyst with Gartner.

Companies that provide social networks respond to the concerns by emphasizing their rigorous security. Still, some offer networks that allow customers to keep their data on their own servers.

And employees may post private information more widely than they should.

“It’s sometimes a disaster,” Ms. Landry said. “It sometimes gets shut down by security or compliance.”

At the same time, even though companies make clear in etiquette guides how to use the networks, missteps occur. For example, at Symantec, a worker posted his cat’s photo in his profile instead of his own. A well-meaning worker at Nikon alerted everyone to apple pie in the kitchen; never mind that colleagues in other offices were not interested.

One of the biggest providers of corporate social networks is, the online business software company based in San Francisco. It said 80,000 companies use its corporate social network, Chatter, up from around 10,000 when it was introduced a year ago. Yammer, a start-up and also based in San Francisco, said its service is used by more than 100,000 companies, up from around 80,000 a year ago.

SAP, Cisco Systems, Socialtext, Jive Software and SuccessFactors are also pushing their products. Last month, VMware joined the list when it acquired Socialcast, one of the earlier networking services.

Salesforce and Yammer both offer free versions of their social networks to companies. Salesforce charges $15 per user a month for its premium network — existing software customers pay nothing extra, however — while Yammer’s costs $5 per user a month. At Symantec, which is based in Mountain View, Calif., more than a third of the 18,500 employees are able to use Chatter. More employees, and potentially some of the company’s partners, will be added to the network later this summer.

But not everyone who can use it does so. Chatter’s analytic system, which can identify the most influential users, shows that only around 40 percent of the sales team is active on the service, said Tacy Parker, global sales force manager at Symantec.

Still, Troy McKaskle, a chief technology officer at Symantec, is an evangelist for Chatter, which he says helps employees with everything from getting advice about how to configure their iPads to getting feedback on projects.

Mr. McKaskle follows around a dozen groups on the service, and posts messages frequently. On a recent day, he wrote, “Get ready for Odyssey!” using a code name for a new technology that Symantec is developing.

“Dare I ask what Odyssey is?” a colleague responded.