The biggest difference between the two articles is that the Kerawalla article on blogging focuses more specifically on the value of using blogging in higher education. The article recognizes the potential of blogging then breaks down some of the difficulties when observed in case studies. It outlines the potential benefits to learning as blogs can be used to share and collect resources, promote reflective learning, promote interaction and the building of knowledge communities. It also can promote students to comment on each other’s work and help connect distance learners to a larger group.
The blogging article monitored a group of 10 students and recorded the successes and failures of using blogs in higher education. Specifically, students liked the technical aspects of using blogs and being able to access their writing forum online instead of being tied to a single device. They also noted that students welcomed the idea of having an active audience who was interested in their work. One student explained, “…The issue of it being available to anybody doesn't excite me very much but the issue of it being available to me when I'm online anywhere is good’.”(Kerawalla, Minocha, Kirkup, and Conole, 2008) Some students explained that they were ultimately disappointed with the quality and lack of student comments. It was also noted that as commenting was a mandatory part of the assignment the fun and intrinsic nature of participation was removed.
For my own practice I would like to further pursue the use of blogs, but recognize the need to keep the assignments and motivation genuine and authentic. Perhaps if used in a framework of inquiry based learning, this could be achieved.
The second article I examined, Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship by Boyd and Ellison, focuses on social network sites (SNS). As a user of Facebook, both privately and in my professional practice it was a reflective exercise to review the history of SNSs and to examine how they function, their purpose and how they are used. Directly stated the article seeks to examine, “…a unique collection of articles that analyze a wide spectrum of social network sites using various methodological techniques, theoretical traditions, and analytic approaches.” (Boyd, Ellison. 2007)
The first part of the article defines SNSs then provides a history of their development starting with SixDegrees.com in 1997. It explains that the next generation of SNSs was led by Ryse.com. The visual timeline was fascinating, showing Facebook and Twitter at the end of the 2006 spectrum. The history explains how SNSs grew out of obscurity to gain the social acceptance and mass global participation that we are now witnessing with Facebook, Twitter and Youtube.
Following an examination of the history, Boyd and Ellison review and summarize the scholarly work done in the field of SMSs. Specifically they review studies on “Friendship Performance, Network Structure, Bridging online and offline social networks and Privacy. They document the findings demonstrating how the research has uncovered intended and unintended social behaviours associated with the use of SMSs.
In summary this article provided me with a deeper understanding and forced me to reflect on the SMSs that I use on a daily basis. Ultimately, while the article has deepened my understanding on the subject I’m not sure that it will force a change in my practice, as I have a fairly conservative approach to SMS usage.
Boyd, D. M., & Ellison, N. B. (2007). Social network sites: Definition, history, and scholarship. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 13(1), article 11.
Kerawalla, L., Minocha, S., Kirkup, G., & Conole, G. (2009). An empirically grounded framework to guide blogging in higher education. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 25(1).