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Social Networking V: Multiple Titles

by Sadie Arch

This session consisted of three presenters, not all of whom discussed social networking but did illustrate the many pedagogical uses of technology.

In “Social Networking to Create Professional Ethos for Co-op Students,” Michael Martin elucidated his use of social networking technology in the teaching of technical writing and facilitating the Co-op Education program at University of Wisconsin-Stout. Martin conjectured that social networking and online collaborative work cause students to consider new possibilities for creating ethos. After deciding to employ social networking to improve the Co-op program, Martin constructed informal collaborative discussion boards that served as a place to share common experience and aimed to create a professional network for students to converse with classmates. Martin then highlighted a shift in which the posting habits of the students moved away from answering Martin’s inquiries to responding to each other’s questions. Martin noted the students soon began to recognize him as a colleague, a sign the students were starting to understand themselves professionally. Sharing his thoughts about these results, Martin cited Hayes, “People do enjoy working together—sharing, hearing, from others and conducting a team dialogue” (Hayes 2003). The work his students accomplished created a network that went beyond the course, constructing for his students new professional identities.

In “Developing Rapport Using Academic-Based Technology,” Malene A. Little shared her experiences as a new teacher using technology to develop rapport with her students. Little stated that, unlike Martin, she struggled to fit social networking into her curriculum and felt social programs such as Facebook were not a good fit because they lacked professional application. Instead, Little discussed her heavy use of e-mail which enabled her to provide an “omnipresent availability” to her students as well as provide practice writing to peers and instructors, which she posited was as important as being able to write an essay. Little next discussed her use of InSite, an application in which students post their essays and their reviewers provide color-coded feedback and check for plagiarism. With the color coded feedback process, Little noted she was able to create balance between criticism and praise in her responses to student writing and eliminate the problems of illegible feedback and lack of margin space for commentary.

In “Supporting the Visual: The Flickr Learnr, Justin Blessinger first cited Howard Gardener’s “Theory of Intelligences,” in which Gardner suggests there are different learning styles, one of which is through visual processes. Blessinger opined that academia requires image use; these images must not just be superfluous, but must instruct in some way. Second, Blessinger introduced some of the social photo websites that he has explored in his pedagogy, including Flickr—a social photo website with expansive searches, Bashr—a search that combines multiple modes of learning into one engine, Flickrscape, Quasimodo, and Retrievr—a geotagging program. Blessinger stated that these sites offer different ways to learn for visual learning students including taking notes with these programs by using pictures to create memorable symbols. These social photo sites also reinforced central messages and proffered specific focal points to help students retain information.

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