Posted tagged ‘MySpace’

Online social networking

September 14, 2008

It must be about 2 or three years ago that, at a meeting here in DCU, a colleague came up with a rather breathless denunciation of the social networking site Bebo. I think that most of those present had never heard of it before, and I confess that I was one of those. But apparently at that time several universities – not DCU – were banning access on university-owned computers or in libraries because over-use was clogging up the system.

I went from the meeting to have a look, and shortly afterwards signed up for Bebo – I felt I needed to know more about this apparent phenomenon. And not long afterwards I signed up for Facebook and MySpace. And while I cannot say that I spend hours every week chatting (or doing whatever) on these sites, I do use them. And even one or two other, less well known, ones.

No doubt it can be problematic for network servers if there is excessive traffic through social networking, but on the other hand we tell students all the time that the social and community experience of university life is or should be a vital part of their experience. Of course, we may wonder whether online networking could actually undermine face-to-face interaction on the campus, but we’re in the age we’re in and should harness rather than resist the new technologies and the new fashions.

My plan for this academic year is to try to use social networking sites proactively to communicate with groups of students and to get feedback from them, all done appropriately of course. And I shall ask someone to do a review of how we can use the current taste for social networking in a pedagogical context, to add value to the learning experience. That must surely be possible.