Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Social Learning

I love Facebook, some (like my husband) might say I am addicted to it. Well, I might be, but I'm on a patch now, so it is getting better! Facebook, or FB, is great because I have met people from around the globe playing dumb, time-wasting farming games. The farming has lapsed (I've found treasure hunting much more appealing,) but I remain FB friends with some of those I met early on; one of those people is my friend Jan who lives in South Africa. Now, I've never been to SA, but I would love to go for many reasons; I have many more reasons to go now that I know Jan, she has opened the country to my eyes. Without social interactions through programs like Facebook, I would never have met Jan, nor would I know so much about South Africa!

Most of my 8th grade students have Facebook and/or MySpace accounts. Be clear, I do NOT friend my students, but do have former students in my friend base on FB. I do not post strange or inappropriate items or videos, so I feel comfortable with the 2 still left in high school in my circle. I have learned so much about places around the world, not just South Africa, but everywhere. I have met people from places I've never heard of and had to find on a map with guidance! I have been socially learning from this style of technology for about a year now, and as my husband says, I'm addicted.

How does this all apply to the learning theories for social constructivism and connectivism? Easy, socially the people involved make connections to others and pieces of information available. I do NOT agree with George Siemens (Laureate Education, Inc. 2009)is stating connectivism is the way for students to learn in the 21st century. I think he has made a case for himself by defining "Learning Theory" to match his own needs. I believe my students need interaction with something other than technology and computers; I believe in face-to-face instruction. I do not think all learning will go to the way of the computer, and if it does "connectivism" would surely DIS-connect the person from the Social Learning theory it is tied to in Siemen's eyes. To learn socially, one must interact with others, not just on Facebook or Second Life interactives, but real human interaction.

I think of the Disney/Pixar movie Wall-e. If you have seen it, the people become complete connectivists and speak to one another through holographic tv screens, even though they are sitting right next to one another. If you haven't seen the film, check it out. Lots of lessons to learn from a little robot!! If you have, meet me on the Lido Deck, there's a pool!!


  1. Marie,

    I just love reading your blogs. I too am addicted to Facebook. I use like you do to meet new people and to stay connected with my friends and family that are scattered about.

    Social learning is a theory I use in my classroom, but I use it in activities that help reinforce the skills that I am teaching my students. I can see where second life and social networking sites like Facebook can be helpful in the classroom, but I feel like you lose that personal connection that you get when you speak to someone face to face. This is why I use cooperative groups. I strongly feel that many of our students are lacking the skills of personal communication due to the social technologies that have found their way into our students’ lives. Texting, for example have crippled the way many young students write because they cannot differentiate between the two writing styles.

    BTW Wall-e captured my heart. I just love that little robot.

  2. Victoria~ I am with you on the co-op groups. I use them because it is the only way to get so many pieces of curriculum done in a school year. I also agree that the students do not properly address one another, nor myself, when writing or conversing. When I have spoken to students about using proper English to speak and write, I was told, "Get wit tha times Mid. Olsen!" Not kidding, an actual quote from a student!

  3. I agree with what you have said entirely. I do not use facebook, but my wife has an account. She often knows more about my friends that live in other parts of the country than I do. I choose not to create an account because it would take time that I do not have and I would also have to make sure that it does nothing to jeopardize my career. I think that what you said about kids needing face to face interaction is entirely true. The social skills of students seem to be suffering because of how much time they spend using technology instead of interacting face to face.

  4. Mark~
    Not only do I see a large problem with the lack of face to face interaction, but the entire lack of communication. Students know how to navigate the social network sites and willingly and freely post anything they think. The cell phone texting, IAM chats, Facebook/MySpace status name it, they CANNOT write it! Drives me crazy. And, they think it is OK to put every thought on the net, not realizing it is there to stay! Put those together with lack of or poor communication skills and the words may not express the emotion the person felt when writing.

    Now, the voice thread...this looks promising!

  5. I agree with you about how you can learn through social learning. I have also learned a lot through facebook. I had a family friend who lives in the Phillippines and I was able to connect to him through facebook and learn about how he lives in his country. Students could learn in a similar way and actually learn from facebook!

  6. Alicia~they COULD learn from Facebook, but often times, more than not, they simply socialize. The posts are short and give a play-by-play style format of their day. I think there are better ways for students to interact with people around the globe other than on Facebook.