What is Social Media?

No longer satisfied to be consumers of content, today’s audience creates content as well, and is uploading photographs, audio, and video to the cloud by the billions. Producing, commenting, and classifying these media have become just as important as the more passive tasks of searching, reading, watching, and listening. Sites like Flickr, Odeo, YouTube, Google Video, and Ourmedia make it easy to find images, videos, and audio clips, but the real value of these sites lies in the way that users can classify, evaluate, comment upon, and add to the content that is there. Using simple interfaces, visitors can build shared collections of resources, whether they be links, photos, videos, documents, or almost any other kind of media. They can find and comment on items in other people’s lists, sharing not only the resources themselves but information and descriptive details about them.

As a result, over the past few years, the ways we produce, use and even think about our media have undergone a profound transformation. Literally billions of videos, podcasts, and other forms of social media are just a click away for any Internet-connected user. As the numbers and quality of user-produced clips have increased, our notions of what constitutes useful or engaging media have been redefined — and more and more, it is a two- to three-minute piece designed for viewing inside a browser or on a mobile phone. That same phone is often the device used to create the media in the first place, with surprisingly high quality when viewed on a small screen. Tools for assembling and editing clips are free or extremely low cost and make it easy for amateurs to get good results without investing in expensive equipment, software, or training.

INSTRUCTIONS: Enter your responses to the questions below. This is most easily done by moving your cursor to the end of the last item and pressing RETURN to create a new bullet point. Please include URLs whenever you can (full URLs will automatically be turned into hyperlinks; please type them out rather than using the linking tools in the toolbar).

Please "sign" your contributions by marking with the code of 4 tildes (~) in a row so that we can follow up with you if we need additional information or leads to examples- this produces a signature when the page is updated, like this: - alan alan Jan 25, 2011

(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • Social media is free and already in the lives of most secondary, and even elementary, students. Incorporating social media into education allows educators to capitalize on a familiar technology. Social Media is a perfect mode of collaboration for students and a method by which teachers can make learning more authentic and relevant. - marisa.hartling marisa.hartling Feb 24, 2011
  • Social media hasn't been as prevalent in K12 education partly because we haven't had personalized devices to support its widespread adoption. Other factors include restrictive district policies and the lack of professional development in this area. Social media still has wings, but will need the right set of factors for massive adoption. I'm somewhat optimistic that we will see this in the short term (1-3 years). - alec.couros alec.couros Feb 25, 2011

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • The only theme missing is security. School districts are charged with keeping students safe, and I can only imagine that using social media for instruction may create concerns pertaining to security. - marisa.hartling marisa.hartling Feb 24, 2011
  • add your response here

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative expression?

  • Students are highly encouraged to produce videos on a subject or complete an interview. Essays are often one-dimensional, only for the teacher to score and seen by only the teacher. On the other hand, video is 3-D. The video has a narrative (still contains a thesis statement, and a story with a beginning, middle and end), visuals and sound. These videos are placed on the web for the teacher, classmates, relatives, etc. to view. In addition, everyone comments and it can be remixed later. It becomes more than just an assignment. Students are able to use their creativity and this often leads classmates to view the creator in a more positive role. (- michael.lambert michael.lambert Feb 21, 2011)
  • Social media allows for student creativity and collaboration. Tasks and projects that utilize social media will progress students to higher level thinking and production. - marisa.hartling marisa.hartling Feb 24, 2011
  • Social media is gradually becoming embedded in schools but students need guidance about using them safely and responsibly. The fact that anything uploaded persists can be quite frightening to a young person still deciding on the sort of person they want to be. It's a pity that social media tools don't allow for content to expire and erase itself (Horizon 2020?). - roger.blamire roger.blamire Feb 27, 2011

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

- limad limad Feb 26, 2011

Please share information about related projects in our Horizon K-12 Project form.