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Social Networking VI: Multiple Titles

by Sadie Arch

This panel shared personal experiences and continuing work in the application of pedagogical social networking.

Michael Morgan and Tiffany Mcannany featured “Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt at the ‘The Lodge,’” an examination of Morgan’s collective weblog and its subsequent trouble. “The Lodge” was an online space for nine students to blog about their university experiences in order to promote Morgan’s university, reach out to prospective students and offer examples of academic discourse. The process quickly departed from this intent, as Morgan illustrated in one student’s blog “Ante Up” which showcased the student using his Financial Aid for online gambling. The faculty became worried about their respective images and the university’s image depicted in “The Lodge: therefore, Morgan was told to moderate every post and set a disclaimer about the blog’s representation of his university, something he did not find comfortable. Mcannany, one of the site’s bloggers, offered her opinion on the Lodge, citing its address of events on campus, student life, and academic happenings. She felt that, despite these benefits, the blog was inauthentic and too much of an advertising tool. Students restricted themselves because they knew faculty would read the blog, thus leaving out genuine conversation about classes—the ultimate common student experience. After rhetorically asking if the “The Lodge” was worthwhile, Morgan answered that though the picture may have been artificial and pedantic, it still allowed visitors to become partially informed about student life and provided writing and conversation opportunities on the (mis)uses of technology.

Next, Armando Gonzalez presented “Collaborative Social Networks in the Foreign Language Classroom.” He exhibited the program Media Master, a program he wrote to allow students to create and access video blogs online to counter the multimedia that is often packaged with texts, which Gonzalez declared unproductive. The program, which provides social networking opportunities, permits students to create their own activities while exchanging ideas and cultures. In a demonstration of the software, Gonzalez proved that both the instructor and student interfaces were uncomplicated to use and provided many time saving features.

Presenting in the same vein as Gonzalez, Jennifer Veltsos discussed developing a social networking atmosphere in “Composing a Social Network: Developing the “Pedagogy Portal” Community Website.” Recalling her time as a teaching assistant, Veltsos noted the many benefits of face-to-face social networking the experience provided, including the vast dissemination and development of teaching materials. Veltsos explained that her goal for “Pedagogy Portal” was to recreate such a community online. She wanted the website at it’s acme to be a powerhouse of ideas and include polls, blogs, instruction materials, conference calls, and book reviews. Veltsos admitted that her work was still in the preliminary stages, yet she intended on discovering, through a mixed methods approach, if a website can encourage collaboration and discussion of teaching materials., a tool for sharing teaching materials, is built on the idea, “Have a penny, leave a penny. Need a penny, take a penny,” according to Veltsos.

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