SNS Ethnography: by Traci Prater Monday, May 5 2008 

As the semester draws to a close, one looks back at the main focus of the class which was to look at education, technology and culture.  As I stated in a previous post, education is the key that unlocks the door, technology is the door and culture is actually what is behind the door.  So in our culture, what is actually behind our door?  This question is complex in that many opportunities exist behind the door of our culture and technology plays an integral part.

According to Danah Boyd (http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol13/issue1/boyd.ellison.html) social networking sites are an important part of our culture because since the start of Facebook, MySpace and others, millions of individuals have made this type of technology part of their everyday lives.  Technology is supposed to make our lives much easier and well organized but why are people in today’s society having trouble taking time out of their “busy” schedules to stop by and chat with an “old” friend.  The answer could be that people don’t have to “stop by” to know what is going on in someone’s life.  It is very easy to catch up with old friends or meet new friends without leaving the comfort of your own home.

Due to the creation of social networking sites, individuals can be in better control of the individuals they meet and the people they allow into their lives.  It creates an open environment where people can accept and reject individuals without the guilt.  This type of social setting allows individuals to be paired up based on interest and it protects you from being aggregated by those that you don’t want in your life (we all have some of those).  It allows one to be social when and where they choose to be social!

I actually joined several social networking sites while I was preparing to write this ethnography.  Some of those sites included Twitter, Dogster.com, MySpace, Classroom 2.0 and I am pretty sure I joined a few others that I can’t think of right now.  And the main concept that was apparent in each of the sites, was the fact that each site is based the interest of the individual. Those who choose to be part of an SNS are looking for the same thing and that is information based on their requirements and interest.  SNS’s are like being at a party; individuals get involved in conversations in which there is common interest.  If you join into a conversation and it doesn’t interest you, basically you excuse yourself and move on to something you are interested in.  Social Networking Sites are the same concept except you are not face to face and you don’t have to excuse yourself; you slip out the cyber door and know one ever knows you’re gone.

Social networking sites are going to become an important part of the educational process but it may take some time to know exactly where they are going to “fit in”.  Some teachers will be better at utilizing they types of sites than others based on their own knowledge base.  As I stated before, I teach computers and have access to a lab full of computer daily.  So for me to incorporate social networking sites into my lesson will not be that complicated.  As previously stated, I am currently working on a unit that will not only include SNS’s but it will also include the use of blogs as an online journal.  Technology is an important part of our educational system and our culture and individuals better be ready to step up to the plate and hit a home run!

SNS Butterfly Saturday, May 3 2008 

For anyone who knows me, they will quickly discover that I suffer from adult ADD.  I have the attention span of a flea (actually, I believe a flea has more!).  So when I began my journey looking into social networking sites, I started with Facebook.  I have a former student that joined the army and has been stationed in Washington State.  In his trip from Georgia to Washington, he took pictures and wanted to share them with me and this was done through facebook.  After I viewed the pictures, I quickly became bored and moved on to Twitter.  Jsarnett said it best when he stated that “Twitter was the elevator of small talk that took you to the real party in the penthouse” (that wasn’t exactly what was said, but it comes pretty close).  I still continuewith Twitter because it’s 140 character limit helps with my ADD (and since I really hate to read, it was very nice that I didn’t have a lot to have to focus on) but as I am known to do; I quickly became bored with what they were saying and doing on Twitter and I happened on to a new site: www.dogster.com where I could highlight my wonderful new dog “Abby”.  This site lasted for a few days until I really didn’t get much action from the others that were participating in the site (I think it was designed to sale things to you for your dog).  And finally, came Classroom 2.0 which had probably been the most beneficial site for me as an educator because of the people you meet and the resources you are provided.

I am currently in the process of developing a new multimedia class next year in which I am creating an on-line classroom environment for my students (http://www.magoffin.kyschools.us/mcctc/Webquest/Around%20World.htm).  The goals for this class has been inspired from many of my classes in the Educational Technology program in that I plan on having my students utilize blogs, social networking sites, technology tools such as: video cameras, digital cameras, movie making software, etc. for the purpose of interacting with others around the globe.

The class is multimedia but the unit will be “Learning Around the World”.  Students will be required to learn about a county of their choice through the eyes of another individual in which they choose to be their Global Pen Pal.  I am currenly looking into K-12 safe SNS designed for this purpose.  The students will create a blog for the purpose of keeping an on-line journal of the information they receive from their Global Pen Pal.  This will allow the sharing of the information to their peers.  At the end of the year, the students will apply the knowledge they have received in mulimedia and create a movie and/or presentation on all the pictures and information about the country of their choice.  This lesson can not be achieved without the help of the many different technology communication tools that exist today!

Comment from Jsarnett on Twitter: Wednesday, Apr 30 2008 

I think that Jsarnett “hits the nail on the head” in his comment:

Jsarnett’s Weblog: The more time I spend on Twitter, the more I begin to understand that it is much different than the other SNSs like MySpace and Facebook.  Twitter is not so in depth as these other sites.  Twitter is more of a place to stop and chat a bit on you way to somewhere else……image MySpace or Facebook being a party on the penthouse floor of the building….then Twitter is the elevator….complete with small talk and some occasional obligatory music to cover the silence. 

I find it interesting that one can only type 140 characters in Twitter which causes one to be short and directly to the point of what one is doing and/or thinking.  I do however like “small talk” because it makes for short reading but one of the biggest problems that I find is that if you aren’t on Twitter daily you can get lost very quickly in conversations (you are no longer in the “know”).

Me, as a 21st Century Learner: Monday, Apr 28 2008 

For those that are interested in how I am a 21st Century Learner, you may watch my video at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39Up1f0lmOA!

Children Learn What They See! Monday, Apr 28 2008 

Someone sent me a video the other day that was labeled “Children Learn What They See” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=diUB7OGRJ8E) which has a very profound message.  I really began to think after watching the video how true it is that children do learn what they see! When one looks at education, culture and technology and the role that the three play in society, it is apparent the importance of each of them.  Without education, how will future generations be able to contribute to socieity?  The answer is simple, they won’t!  Education is the key that unlocks the door, technology is the door and culture is acturally what is behind the door.

As a parent and an educator, I see on a daily basis the importance of all three concepts.  I am fortunate in that I teach technology and can help my students “open the door” with the key of education and enter into their culture along with the culture of others.  As one progresses and goes through society, one can quickly see changes that need to occur to imporve the culture in which they live.  But without education of the ones that will be required to make the changes, change will not occur!  Without the knowledge of knowing what needs to be changed, changes will not occur!  With knowledge, one must have information; technology is where the information can be found for the purpose of creating change. So back to the statement, children learn what they see; if children see a culture that doesn’t value education, they will also not value education.  If children see a culture that doesn’t value and utilize technology, they will also not value or utilize technology.  If children see a culture that doesn’t want change, they too will not want change!

And on a lighter note, my children also learn what they see from me (which is not always a good thing). Sometimes, you really don’t know what they are watching and learning which is why one needs to be extremely careful what they say or do.  My oldest son, Dillon, is a lot like me (pray for him! :)) in that he loves technology. The other day, he got into the car and ask if we could play his CD that he had “burned” himself (now keep in mind that Dillon is only 10 years old and only watched me one time burn a CD for him).  When I put the CD in, I was pleasently surprised to learn that he apparently likes the 1980’s hard rock bands (Guns n Roses, White Snake, Poison, etc.) which is what the CD consisted of.  But other than being pleased with his wonderful taste in music (ha ha), I was even happier with his ability to apply what he had only seen me do one time! 

I think that as parents and educators, one needs to realize that those that are viewing us are much more advanced in their abilities than ever before.  It is everyone’s responsibility to ensure that you are allowing individuals to see the change that you want to occur in a culture.  Just remember, you are the locksmith that can create the “key that opens the door”! 🙂

Badges to Webpages Tuesday, Apr 22 2008 

I know that I am probably behind the times but I love the badges that you can add to your custom webpages.  For example, if you want to visit my on-line classroom I have created, (http://www.magoffin.kyschools.us/mcctc/Webquest/Mrs_Praters_Homepage.htm) you will see the two badges I have added from dogster.com and Classroom 2.0.  These badges take you directly to the SNS’s you are involved with.  A really neat trick – the HTML code is written for you so you just copy and paste it into your webpage. 🙂

Classroom 2.0 – A New SNS Adventure! Tuesday, Apr 22 2008 

I always suspected that I suffer from adult ADD and after researching social networking sites, it is apparent that I have difficulty sticking with one thing two long.  So in that being said, I am on to a new SNS called Classroom 2.0 which is a social networking site designed for educators of all kinds.  As I have stated in the past, what makes a SNS successful for me is the information in which I can retreive from it.

Last night, I created a home page (http://www.classroom20.com/profile/TraciPrater) and began yet another exploration through the world of social networking sites.  I actually stumbled upon this site with help of Dr. Lowell when I ask the question: Do you know a good global blog site designed for K-12 students to communicate with other K-12 students around the globe for the purpose of getting information about the area in which others live?  Dr. Lowell responded by asking me who was logged into CR20, maybe they could help!  Now I am sure that sometime during this class, Dr. Lowell has mentioned Classroom 2.0 but me being the absent minded professor (ha ha); I apparently missed the memo.  Since I created my page, I have already had a few responses from those that I have added as friends and also met a nice professor at Eastern Michigan University that teaches technology.  I am not sure where this path will lead but I am excited in walking down the trail to find out!

Remote Access Wednesday, Apr 16 2008 

As assessment time approaches, it always amazes me how much time and effort has to be spent throughout the school year preparing students for state assessments which is reality are a huge waste of time (in my opinion!).  As Remote Access stated:

Remote Access
In education, innovation is a problem. As with any other industry, we have many parts and pieces that we need to look at, and many places that are in need of the “innovation spotlight.” Assessment, timetabling, course content, school building design, etc., etc. The list could continue.

Innovation is a problem in education, but it is also a must.  If educators, especially those in the public school systems, don’t start standing up for what the children really need in the classroom instead of what the “suits” at the Department of Education think they need (which how would they know because many of them haven’t been in the classroom setting for years) the educational systems are going to go on a downward spiral from which one can not recover. 

As we look at education and the educational environment, it is apparent that changes occur on a daily basis.  The students in which one teaches are also rapidly changing.  So why is it that those in charge of making the “important” decisions are having difficulty with innovation?  It is my opinion that for someone to by innovative, one must have in-depth knowledge into what they are trying to be innovative about! When those trying to make decisions haven’t been on the “front-lines” for an extended period of time, it makes it a little difficult to understand how and what needs to be changed and improved upon.

SNS 101 Monday, Apr 14 2008 

I have just investigated www.dogster.com and I am really pleased with this SNS.  I have not been really pleased with Twitter because I don’t have time to see what others are doing on a continious basis.  I also find it difficult to determine who you are compatiable with without conducting in-depth research.  I also am not sure what type of relationships one could actually build on Twitter.

I went ahead and created a profile for my dog Abby on www.dogster.com and thus far, I have really enjoyed reading about the animals and what thier owners have to say about them.  I think that I am discovering the key to a SNS and that is a SNS will only be successful if you have stuff in common with the individuals involved.  Much like face to face friendships; you wouldn’t want to be friends with someone you have nothing in common with – what would you have to talk about?

Pets Need Pals Too – Prevention.com Monday, Apr 14 2008 

As one looks a social networking sites, I really never consider having a SNS for your pet.  In the article, Pets Need Pals Too – Prevention.com the author discusses a site known as http://www.dogster.com/ which is designed to help pet owners find friends for their furry companions.  After reading the article, the author demonstrates that the site is also effective in helping the owner locate friends with common interest.  As if we didn’t know that that is what the site was designed for.  I think I would freak if I came in and saw my wonderful Abbey (Golden Retreiver) sitting in the computer chair surfing dogster.com! 🙂

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