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Sunday, February 24, 2013

CEP 817 Mod 4: Social Software

Our report on Facebook and LinkedIn can be found as a google doc here.

Social Software Research Paper
Tech Heroes in Training Group
CEP 817, Spring 2013
February 23, 2013

As Web 2.0 technologies have taken over the Internet, there has been an explosion of new web-based services that have emerged.   Many of these services are centered upon the idea of keeping people connected with one another, using forums and posts as their communication hub.  While many of these web-based services exist today, only a few have the elite distinction of being used at a world-wide level.  Two examples of these services are Facebook and LinkedIn.  As of December 2012, Facebook has 1.6 billion active monthly users and 618 million active daily users (Tam, 2013).  LinkedIn, while smaller in comparison to Facebook, still has an impressive number of 200 million current users worldwide (Lomas, 2013).  These social networking services are starting to invade the classroom as educators are currently looking for new methods of engaging students, gathering information, and staying connected to their communities.
According to Techopedia, “social software is a category of software systems that primarily functions to allow user collaboration and communication. Examples of social software include: instant messaging, email, internet forums, chat rooms, wikis (web pages allowing editing by viewers), web blogs, social network services (participants that communicate about shared interests, such as hobbies or causes).”  Facebook and LinkedIn both contain many of the aforementioned features. Individuals as well as businesses can use either format to connect to potential employees/employers, customers/businesses and develop their sphere of influence through networking on the sites.
From a software perspective, it is interesting to note that Facebook “opened up its developers' platform to allow third-party developers to build applications and widgets that, once approved, could be distributed through the Facebook community.”(WhatsIt)  According to Josh Bersin, a Forbes contributor, “Facebook is really a platform, not an application. While LinkedIn is being run like a data-driven application, Facebook is really a sharing platform from which many companies can build applications.” Although both are classified as social software, this is an important distinction between what they are and what they are intended to accomplish from a business perspective.
    Facebook isn’t an independent software program and utilizes many types of software to bring all of its features to its users. Some of the various programs used behind the scenes to keep it running are: Memcached (to connect web and SQL servers), HipHop for PHP (changes PHP to C++ code), Haystack (assists in photo storage/retrieval), BigPipe (creates “pagelets” to increase page performance), Cassandra (assists in Inbox searching), Scribe(logging system), Hadoop (for data analysis), Thrift (helps all the various programming languages communicate), Varnish (HTTP accelerator), etc. Similarly, LinkedIn requires many various software programs to bring its services to its users. LinkedIn uses: Zoie (search indexing), Bobo (works with Zoie as a search library), Hadoop (for data analysis and computation), Voldemort (data storage system), Espresso (data servicing) and many others.
The Facebook and LinkedIn social networking services are currently being used in a variety of ways.  Generally speaking, they are designed to keep people connected with one another.   However, the most common uses of these two social networking services contrast one another.  Most of the users on Facebook, use it to stay connected with current family and friends, including linking up with individuals from the user’s past.  Users post status updates on what is going on in their personal lives, create photo/video albums to share with their “friends”, and can “like” and comment on other user’s posts.  Some users will also use the program to install apps and play online games while passing the time.   Users can also follow groups of their favorite entertainers and interests (Leon, n.d.).
           LinkedIn is used differently in that it is primarily used to create networks with other professionals in certain career tracks and interests.  LinkedIn strives to serve as a way to meet new people that may help someone in finding a new job or gathering new professional sources of information.  LinkedIn has an area to post your resume and groups to join to stay connected to discussions in professional communities, which can include areas to gain advice for changing careers.  In addition, there is a job search function built into the service so the users can stay up-to-date on the latest job openings in their area or field of expertise.  Many of the users within a LinkedIn network have never met each other face-to-face, but all have similar interests.  This specializes LinkedIn as a business networking network (Babauta, 2007).
The power of social media technologies is held within their massive reach and networking powers.  However the profiles, photo albums and pages can feel stagnant at times.  This drawback of Facebook has been transformed through creative expression and collaboration.  The most basic of Facebook, the profile page, has evolved from a personal place of expression to an area for businesses to attract new clientele with eye catching and modern views of the company’s products and services by adapting the photo album layouts.  Businesses can now “tag” their products as a means of featuring them in an up-to-the-minute report of daily activity instead of being viewed postdated on their page, eliminating the stagnant environment.
    This aspect of Facebook provides a living, breathing aspect to a once digital landscape. One example that is eye catching and provides a viewer with a relatable feeling is travel website Gadling.  On their Facebook page, each of their travel bloggers is added to the company’s photo album with on location shots that add depth and character to the company’s image as well as adding credibility to their bloggers by illustrating them in action, participating in the very activities their readers love – traveling.  Many other companies are diving into the photo album feature as a means of creating a connection with their clientele as well as breathing life into their digital Facebook footprint.
    Another creative use of Facebook is the group function that allows for people to “gather” due to similar likes.  Teachers with excess materials have found an inventive way to clear clutter or accumulate more using the open, Facebook Group: Teaching Resources for Sale/Swap Australia.  The group’s function is to move materials from one teacher to the next.  For the live art company Assault Events, when attempting a 6 person event entitled Alibi, simply becoming Facebook “friends” allowed the collaborators, whom lived throughout the British Isle the opportunity to network and develop despite distance.
    If Facebook was created with personal social interaction in mind, LinkedIn has been creative to provide those same Facebook users with a solely professional, yet social, web presence.  With that premise in mind, true creativity can be limited however that does not mean nonexistent.  The goal of a users LinkedIn page is inherently different from that of the casual Facebook profile, however adding personal touches such as Amazon Reading List can inspire a new network within your industry.  More simple touches would require a thesaurus in order to describe one’s personal talents and accomplishment.  Tracey Gold, a social media blogger, attended a workshop by Colleen McKenna a LinkedIn trainer, reports that by using LinkedIn as the tool that was designed to be using tips provided by McKenna can help you to creatively and successful network with others in your profession.
Facebook is more than a way to socialize and connect with others.  The site can be an incredible learning tool. Teachers can utilize Facebook for class projects, for enhancing communication, and for engaging students in a manner that might not be entirely possible in traditional classroom settings.
While there is a debate and different school/district policies about friending students on Facebook, but done responsibly, there are advantages.  Facebook allows teachers to get to know students in a different light which can transfer into the classroom.  Friending Facebook can also help create an open and supportive environment using features such as chat for homework help.  Friending also allows the student/teacher relationship to continue even years later after the class is over.  To friend safely involves customizing privacy settings on what can be seen and posted by others or setting up a separate account for professional use.
Even better than friending students online is setting up a fan page which allow for distribution of announcements, blog posts, events, assignments, links and videos into the “live streams” of those that “fan” your page.  Fan pages can be preferred over using your personal profile because there is no need for parents or students to be your friends to get the updates.  Fan pages can also be used to develop an online community around your class or school.  Here a couple of examples of fan pages that you can explore. A teacher page Mr. Edelman’s Teacher Page or by class Ms. Adams Class Page Mr. Whalberg’s Science Class, an organization page such as the one that  a student went on to win an award for her school by creating a vibrant, interactive Facebook Page for the New Canaan High School Library that features events, photos and videos from her students. You can also create pages as a repository of links and information  to help people all over the world learn to speak English, the British Council established a Facebook Page called TeachingEnglish that acts as an interactive repository of information and resources providing “everything busy teachers need” to teach English at home or abroad.  The TeachingEnglish writers — all current or former teachers — provide teaching materials, articles, and a community where educators can come together and share ideas and strategies about teaching English to a global audience.  As you can see, there are many different avenues that fan pages can lead you to while using facebook in the classroom.
Another feature that can be used as a tool in the classroom, is a recent change to Facebook which allows for the creation of group pages on which educators can add members to add content.  Like fan pages, group pages allow for publishing to users’ live streams, inclusion of discussion forums and comments, and the sharing of photos videos, and events.  Advantages are allowing messaging between group members, editing group documents wiki style, and group chat all at once.  The owner, however, does lose some control of content, and use of third party widgets for promotion outside of facebook.   You can view an  examples of a group page by clicking on the following link - Fontana’s class.
Facebook can also be a tool that can be used for professional development.  Educators can link to other professionals through Facebook pages or groups.  Great examples are groups and organizations such as  International Society for Technology in Education, ASCD, and National Association of Education of Young People (NAEYC), and Edutopia.  There are helpful media pages such as Education Week as well as resource sharing such as Free Technology for Teachers.  Connect a Million Minds, Time Warner Cable's $100 million community commitment to connect youth to ideas, people and opportunities that will inspire them to become the problem solvers of tomorrow.  Another use of Facebook pages are linked to Twitter conversations such as #EdChat.
LinkedIn can also be a useful resource in the classroom.  Although there are many social networks for educators, LinkedIn can be the go-to one-stop shop for professional interactions online.  LinkedIn first and foremost is a public résumé that is easily findable via Google or LinkedIn’s built-in search engine for employers looking for potential hires. The Jobs menu on LinkedIn also has a handy set of tools for educators looking for jobs, though, including searchable postings and a premium paid service to make yourself more visible to the right people. LinkedIn can also streamline the process of soliciting letters of recommendation from colleagues.
Since LinkedIn users are searchable via name, position and institution, seeking out new potential contacts as well as former colleagues and reaching out to them with questions about experience about curriculum or lesson topics can be a breeze.    LinkedIn can be an invaluable tool for keeping one’s contact list up-to-date.  Many educators use LinkedIn to promote a project, blog, or side venture that might interest others in the field.  The service can also be a great place to get feedback and let colleagues see what others are doing in and outside the classroom.
LinkedIn also offers the educator the ability to create groups. Their systems for setting up groups are wonderful. Each one can be public or private and hosts space for ongoing discussion threads.   Kharback (2012) provides a nice list of different groups for educators. Like Facebook pages, these groups specialize in interest but provide discussion threads, resources sharing, and job postings, Ed Tech Start Ups,  EduBloggers,  Education Revolution, International Society for Technology In Education,  Technology Integration in Education  There are groups for specific interests such as iTeach English for TEFL, TESL, TESOL online teachers. Other sites for connecting and sharing are  Teacher's Lounge for K-12 teachers who would like to network with other teachers from all around the globe and Discovery Education Network  connected with Discovery Communications and its sister website for the educational community.

Works Cited Page

Babauta, Leo (2007).  20 Ways to Use LinkedIn Productivity.  Retrieved from:
Burt, Ronnie (2011). The why and how of using facebook for educators--no need to be friends at all!  Retrieved from
Gold, Tracey (2012) How to Use LinkedIn Powerfully: 10 Tips to Know Retrieved from   
Kharbach, Med (2012).  Social networking pt. 3: Teachers guide to the use of LinkedIn. Retrieved from
Leon, Jay (n.d.) Five Uses of Facebook.  Retrieved from:
Lomas, Natasha (2013).  LinkedIn Hts 200 Million Registered Users Worldwide - Adding New Users at a Rate of Two  Per Second.  Retrieved from:
Power, Don (2012). 3 creative ways educators use Facebook.  Retrieved from
Schembar, Marian (2011) Five Creative Uses of Facebook Photo Albums Retrieved from
Smith, Dr. Sophy (2009) The Creative Uses of Facebook as a Collaborative Tool Retrieved from
Tam, D. (2013). Facebook by the Numbers: 1.06 Billion Monthly Active Users. Retrieved from:   
Teaching Resources Sale/Swap Australia Retrieved from
Venable, Melissa (2009). 100 ways you should be using Facebook in the classroom. Retrieved from
Warmoth, Brian (2012).  7 ways that teachers can use LinkedIn to get ahead.  Retrieved from


              Rachael Hiliker
Shannon Rush
Trisha Keenoy
George Mcdowell
Ramiro Carbajal


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