社交网络服务的教育应用 SNS: from an Educational Perspective

2007-09-22 00:00:00 评论(1)

SNS: from an Educational Perspective

He, Wenchao

CoCo Research Centre
Faculty of Education and Social Work, University of Sydney, Australia

4 September, 2007

1. Introduction

This paper will focus on the development of Social Networking Service (SNS) from an educational perspective, where different aspects of SNS, such as its time line information, current applications and potential development, will be articulated.

2. What is SNS

SNS is short for Social Networking Service (or Social Networking Sites), which is a part of the system of Web 2.0 and is based on Six Degree of Separation stated by Stanley Milgram (1969). It helps people to extend their social networks mainly based on their current friendship by building online communities where they can share interests, thoughts, photos, activities, etc., using various interaction tools that the websites provide, such as chat, messaging, email, video, voice chat, file sharing, blogging, discussion groups, etc. Basically, there are two kinds of SNS websites: (1) large and comprehensive ones, such as MySpace.com, providing general social networking service; (2) specialized ones, such as Student.com, aimed at teens, college students, and young adults.

3. History of SNS

The first SNS website is Classmates.com, established in 1995, focusing on ties with former school mates using the Old School Tie social networking method. Yet Boyd and Ellison (2007) argued that SixDegrees.com should be the first recognizable social network site launched in 1997. This is because SixDegrees.com allowed users to create profiles, list their Friends, and surf the network, which later become a mainstream phenomenon in SNS websites.

Besides these two early websites, two different models of social networking that came about in 1999 were the Circle of Trust developed by Epinions.com and the Circle of Friends developed by Jonathan Bishop, the later of which was utilized on a number of regional UK sites between 1999 and 2001 before being adopted by Friendster in 2002 according to NWT (2007), perhaps because it gives the user more control over content and connectivity than the earlier Web of Contacts model. By 2005, one social networking service using the Circle of Friends, MySpace, was reportedly getting more page views than Google, with Facebook, a competitor rapidly growing in size also using the Circle of Friends (Rosenbush, 2005). In 2007, Facebook began allowing externally-developed add-on applications, and some applications enabled the graphing of a user’s own social network — thus linking social networks and social networking.

4. Typical Features of a SNS website

4.1 Profile

In general, social networking services, such as MySpace and Facebook, allow users to create a profile for themselves, actually a personal homepage, which often contains demographic details (age, gender, location, etc.), tastes (interests, favorite music, etc.), a photograph, and an open-ended description of who the person would like to meet. Many SNS websites allow users to change the background of their profile page and to add additional picture, audio and video files so that the page would be more personal and attractive.

4.2 Friends

After creating a profile, users are usually asked to invite their friends to the site by supplying their email addresses. Alternatively, they can look at others’ profiles and add those people to their list of Friends. In most social networking services, both users must confirm that they are friends before they are linked.

4.3 Privacy

Most SNS websites have a privacy control that allows the user to choose who can view their profile or contact them, etc.

4.4 Interaction

Within SNS websites, users can upload their photos and videos, write their blogs, send message to their friends, etc. Once a user has any action, his or her linked friends will be noticed and recommended to see the new content and to leave comment on it. Then they continually discussed on a specific topic based on the initial action.

5. The application of SNS in educational domain

There are three different levels of application of SNS in educational domain, based on different types of SNS websites and their features.

5.1 Educational Application in General SNS

There are more and more teens use SNS these years, more than half (55%) of all online American youths ages 12-17 use online social networking sites like MySpace.com and Facebook.com, according to the latest survey. (Lenhart, A. Madden, M., 2007). As a result, more and more educators start to research on this phenomenon in order to avoid threats from SNS for education and to utilize it for help teens get socialized or benefit from other aspects.

Students are tremendously interested in social networking sites because of the community, the content, and the activities they can do there. They can share information about themselves, find out what their peers think about topics of interest to them, share music and playlists, and exchange messages with their friends. Social networking services like RateMyProfessors—which allows young people to find out about professors from a student’s perspective before they take a class—attract students by giving them a place to share their opinions and see what others have to say (The New Media Consortium, 2007). Hence, teachers may guide their students to communicate via SNS and learn collaboratively.

It is also recommended that students can join a community in the language that they are learning, where they will be exposed to conversational and colloquial reading and writing, learn about daily life, and establish friendships with native speakers. (ibid)

Besides such positive application, SNS is also used to seek for under-aged drinkers. The photos that the offenders uploaded may be the evidence.

5.2 Inter-campus SNS

Some SNS websites’ target group is students from different places attending different schools and colleges, such as student.com and xiaonei.com (Chinese largest campus SNS website), where some specific features only designed for students, such as they can add their high schools’ names, colleges’ names, majors, courses enrolled, favorite teachers, favorite courses, the clubs they have joined, the dorms they live in, etc. to their profiles.

Based on such information, the system can help college students to maintain the friendship both with their previous high school classmates and the current college friends, help them know about the situations about courses and teachers from their peers, help them identify those who take the same courses, live in the same buildings, come from the same cities, join the same clubs, etc.

5.3 Internal SNS on Campus

SNS on Campus means those social networking services are provided to the students from the same schools. Those who are not the students of the school are not allowed to register or log in.

Elgg.org, an open-source system, can also be downloaded and installed on campus, providing a secure internal community site, which is a good example.

Pennster.com is established by University of Pennsylvania, providing incoming first-year students with the opportunity to meet each other and begin forming friendships before and during the enrollment.

6. SNS’s Potential Development for Educational Purpose

There is still a large blank in internal application for SNS. Since learning management system has become more and more popular, it’s time to integrate SNS into LMS so that the students can receive better service and the stuff on campus can work effectively.

University of Wisconsin–Madison has been thinking about this innovation and they have been using the fervor surrounding social networking technologies as a way to build better relationships with the students and with personnel from disparate parts of the campus. The matrix that follows is intended to help stimulate thinking about how, and with whom, to best network ideas for improving campus services. (Berg, Berquam, and Christoph, 2007):

Core Campus Activities

Connecting on Ideas

Making Connections


· Display information in a way that makes it more flexible for students to play with their schedules

· Access tentative snapshot of new Syllabus or posting of old syllabus

· Check with friends about suggestions for classes and see which classes friends are enrolling in

· Read about the instructor, his/her requirements

· Access links to faculty evaluations

· See photos of instructors

· Identify courses with service learning components


Academic Technology

Service Learning Providers


Portal Service Providers

IT Architects


· Poke an expert

· Know when other students from class are online and available to answer a question

Tutoring Services


IT (identity management)

Study Groups

· Connect with other students, see their photos, form interest groups

· Build project teams

· Create online groups, in real-time

Academic Technology

IT (identity management)

Portal Service Providers

Class Scheduling

· Project the future

· Determine history of courses that “go with” other courses (Amazon.com model: “students who enrolled in this course also registered for . . .”)


Academic Technology



· Have a place where difficult conversations can occur privately

· Follow up with students about campus issues

· Answers given 24/7

Dean of Students



IT Architects

Registrar (FERPA)

Health Services (HIPAA)

Academic Advising

· E-mail/poke regarding progress in class/major

· Self-built portfolio of achievements ready to share with the world and updated regularly

· Poke an adviser (adviser to poke student)

· Ask a dean academic questions (provide support electronically)

· Online peer advising (volunteer opportunities on campus)

· More online “chat” features

· “Playing” with possible schedules, majors, and degrees (can it be a game?)



Service Learning Providers

Academic deans

IT (identity management)

Academic Technology

Directory Information

· Provide photos and e-mail addresses in a portal environment; create groups easily

· Provide staff profiles

IT (identity management)

ERP System(s)


· Orientation on how things get communicated on campus (make it a game)

· Create student groups for information experts who can point students to where they need to go

· Lessons on privacy and safety; share stories and support; allow difficult conversations

· Open blogs without identities

· E-mail/poke when deadlines are approaching

· Occasionally mix things up with a hard-copy mailing

· Electronic pop-ups about privacy

Student Orientation Office




Dean of Students


IT (identity management)

ERP System(s)


· See photos of classmates

· Let students decide which photos get posted to the class roster (make photos opt-in)

· Have a green-light that goes on to say that a classmate is online

· Provide a means for students to e-mail the entire class (make this opt-in)

IT (identity management)


Academic Technology


Deans’ Offices


· Provide a campus e-map showing buildings, bus stops, lighted walkways, etc.

· Provide pop-up alerts

· Help students connect to one another through cell phones for “safe walking”


Dean of Students



Portal Services

Personal Development

· Online, interactive sessions on stress and common avoidance behaviors (with effects)

· Ask questions anonymously

Dean of Students


Health Services


University of Wisconsin–Madison’s idea on the improvement of internal SNS has set a good example for other educational settings and may reflect the trend to some extent.

7. External Links

* Social Networking Websites Review 2007

* A Definitive List of Social Networking Websites to Help You Succeed

* Social Networking on Campus

* Using Social Software on Campus

* Social Networking as LMS: Problems and Opportunities

8. References

Berg, J., Berquam, L. and Christoph, K. (2007). Social Networking Technologies: A “Poke” for Campus Services. In EDUCAUSE Review, 42(2), 32–44.

Boyd, D. and Ellison, N. (2007). History of Social Network Sites. http://www.danah.org/papers/worksinprogress/SNSHistory.html

Lenhart, A. & Madden, M. (2007). Social Networking Websites and Teens: An Overview. Pew Internet & American Life Project, http://pewresearch.org/pubs/118/social-networking-websites-and-teens

Milgram, S. & Travers, J. (1969). Experimental Study of Small World Problem. In Sociometry, 32 (4).

NWT (2007). E-Learning Industry Must Embrace Social Networking, http://www.newswiretoday.com/news/13234/

Rosenbush, S. (2005). News Corp.’s Place in MySpace. In Business Week, 19 July.

The New Media Consortium & EDU CAUSE Learning Initiative. (2007). The 2007 Horizon Report.



  • olay说道:


  • 发表评论

    电子邮件地址不会被公开。 必填项已用*标注