The following is an excerpt from my dissertation. It deals with the changes that have arisen of late in the field of education; especially eLearning. Has the paradigm shifted? I believe it has:
SNS are increasingly being used in the eLearning sphere of education. This is mostly due to the adaptability of the SNS to the already technology-based eLearning methodology. Boyd and Ellison (2007) define social networks as “web-based services that allow individuals to 1) construct a public or semipublic profile within a bounded system, 2) articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and 3) view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system. The nature and nomenclature of these connections may vary from site to site” (p. 2). With the advent of SNS also came the capability to reach out to numerous people in order to gather information. Usually, this information is personal in nature and not necessarily meant to be used professionally; however this tenet is changing rapidly due to the ability to network professionally through one’s own personal site or through various professional sites. “Although originally intended for use by the general population and for social purposes, it nonetheless has found its way into academia—if not by accident” (Gibson, 2010, p. 64). This is true for many SNS since so many students and faculty use these sites. As a result, SNS have prevailed themselves upon academia at a rapid rate. Consider some of the following statistics:
Popular social networking activities among online students (K-12): 41% post messages; 32% download music; 30% download videos; 29% upload music; 25% update personal websites or online profiles; 24% post photos; 17% blog; 16% create and share virtual objects; 14% create new characters; 10% participate in collaborative projects; 10% send suggestions or ides to websites; 9% submit articles to websites; and 9% create polls, quizzes or surveys (National School Boards Association, 2007).
With the influx of so much information and the consequent use of SNS for organizing and disseminating this information, it is easy to see the benefits and associated challenges for using SNS in eLearning. However, the die has been cast and SNS are only going to continue to grow and advance. The future of eLearning is being written daily by numerous students and faculty already in the grips of this new, flexible, and exciting tool.