Linking-in to learners today:using social networking tools for education

Muireann OKeeffe, Claudia Igbrude

Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT)

The ECAR Study of Undergrad Students and Information Technology, 2009 (EDUCAUSE, 2009) shows an increase in the usage of social networking tools among undergraduate students. Boyd and Ellison (2007) describe “web-based services” as those that allow individuals to construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system. It is not surprising then that many higher education institutions are investigating the use of social networking tools within education. Educators are experimenting with social networking for a variety of reasons, including communication with students, enhancement of the first year student experience and innovative assessment techniques. Also social networking is being considered by educational institutions as a means to keep in touch with and to facilitate the lifelong learning experience of students and alumni.
This session will describe the current initiatives at Dublin Institute of Technology in the usage of social networking tools such as Twitter, FaceBook and LinkedIn. Experiences from other educational institutions using tools such as these in various contexts will also be considered. Theories of social learning and informal learning will be compared to the characteristics of social networking, and proposals will be made on progressing educational practice with social-networking tools for learning.

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