Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Report on George Dafoulis' workshop

Effects of Social Networking in Academic Literacy: Myths and Truths
George Dafoulas

George began the session with a quote: “The only thing constant is change itself” – Heraclitus 500 BC. He emphasised how this can be applied to the use of learning technology, and much of the session focused on his struggle to keep up with the students in terms of their choice of learning platform. In his experience of lecturing it has become more obvious that students find it easier to engage with digital media than textbooks or Powerpoint slides, and will often be seen looking at their phones or other mobile devices during a lecture. George discussed how he decided to add social networking elements into his teaching as an additional ‘trigger’ to interest the students.

He discussed how the concept of the social network has evolved from the physical to the virtual, such as VLEs, and has now moved on to encompass a whole range of Web 2.0 technologies. Keeping up with this evolution means “becoming a digital citizen”, which entails forgetting old fashioned constructivism, student centred approaches and rigid learning styles, and considering the use of web-based platforms, game-like interfaces and mobile applications, with a focus on “smaller is better”. He then presented a summary of some examples of social networks, such as Twitter, Facebook, Myspace and Flickr.

George also discussed the need to be cautious when sharing information on social networks, because once you publish something on the web, it could be shared between users on many networks without your knowledge. Personal information can be misused and inappropriate or illegal content may bring harm to others and damage an institution’s reputation. Social networks are difficult to moderate effectively and this lack of control is something which must be considered when using them for teaching purposes.

Paul Smith
e-Learning Support
Middlesex University
Effects of Social Networking in Academic Literacy

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