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Noelene Callaghan

My Blog

My Blog

2015. The year of ......

Posted on 1 January, 2015 at 1:25

In my bid to better my tan and to stick to at least one of my New Year's Resolution for 2015, namely 'stay up to date with technologies and innovations'; I pulled out my Surface Pro 3 during my pool breaks and began reflecting on technologies in 2014.


It appears that whilst 2013 was the year of the 'selfie', 2014 was the year of the 'hashtag'. Interestingly, many of the twitter posts that I have viewed, and I view quite a few, have hashtags that according programming metalanguage rules, don't actually have any relevance to the post itself. In old school programming days, using metalanguage which essentially had the same purpose as hashtags were to be clear and concise. They were to aid a searcher find your website, image, or data with minimal complexities.


According to Oxford Dictionaries, a hashtag is a word or phrase preceded by a hash sign (#), used on social media sites such as Twitter to identify messages on a specific topic: "spammers often broadcast tweets with popular hashtags even if the tweet has nothing to do with them".


Interestingly, the most prominent hashtags, that is the most used hashtags are those that were created by individuals as a result of traumatic events that made headlines for all of the wrong reasons. #putyourbatsout, #bringbackourgirls, and #illridewithyou amongst those that will forever stay with us. Click here for the top ten hashtags used globally:


So, for the hashtag first timer , here are a few steps to help you create hashtags that are relevant and purposeful and most importantly, bring a lot of fun to your personal/professional digital networks;



1. Understand hashtags. The universe of Twitter is vast and can be a little confusing to navigate. Hashtags are one of the most important and efficient ways of organizing information on Twitter. Anyone can make a hashtag at any time, simply by typing a phrase of the form “#topic” in a tweet. For example, if you were tweeting about reading this article, you might say "Reading #wikihow article on using #hashtags with #twitter." Then, anybody searching for #wikihow, #hashtags, or #twitter would see your tweet. After a hashtag has been created, other Twitter users can use that hashtag in their own tweets to add to the larger conversation about that topic. Hashtags can be as general (#wikiHow) or as specific (#howToUseHashtagsOnTwitter) as desired. They are a completely organic form of organization, created and managed by Twitter users, not Twitter itself.

2. Create your own hashtag. The form for doing this is exactly the same as for including an already existing hashtag. Simply type a phrase of the form “#topic.” Do not put any spaces in the phrase that you want to turn into a hashtag, because the hashtag begins with the “#” and ends with the first space. When you click “Tweet”, your new tweet will appear in your list of tweets, and the hashtag you created will appear in blue. Scroll over it and click on it to be redirected to the page for the hashtag. If you have really created a brand new hashtag, your tweet should be the only one on the page. Now, every time someone includes your hashtag in a tweet, it will be added to the page. 


3. Include an existing hashtag in your tweet. You can do this simply by typing a phrase of the form “#topic” within your tweet. After you click “Tweet,” your tweet will appear in your list of tweets with the hashtag in blue type. Scroll over the hashtag and click on it to go to the page for that hashtag. Your tweet will now appear when other users visit the hashtag page. If you wish to use an existing hashtag, make sure that your spelling is correct and that there are no spaces between the words you wish to include in the hashtag. Capitalization, however, does not matter. Thus “#wikihow”, “#wikiHow”, and “#WikiHow” will all produce the same result.

4. Be polite. When using hashtags, observe hashtag etiquette. Twitter's best practices suggest you not use more than two hashtags in the tweet, because this can dilute their usefulness for other users, and make it a royal pain in the eyeballs to read. Understand the purposes of different hashtags. Some are obviously meant to be silly, while others are more serious. Make sure you observe these differences if you do not want to draw the ire of other Twitter users. Only use hashtags that are relevant to the topic you're tweeting about.





Social Media By Stats

Posted on 11 January, 2014 at 20:05


As a digital marketer, you recognize that social media is a valuable resource to your digital marketing strategy. If you are going to commit to a social media marketing strategy, then you will need to know where to focus your time and budget. To help make this decision easier for you, Pew Research conducted a study to determine what platforms were most popular among varying demographics.


To start, it is important to understand just how wide spread social media use has become over the years. In 2013, 73% of those surveyed, ages 18 and over, stated that they utilize a social media platform of some sort. It is not surprising that Facebook is the most commonly used social media site (71% of adults on the internet), but what is interesting is that 43% of those surveyed noted having accounts on multiple social media sites. If only one social networking site is used, it is commonly Facebook (84%), with LinkedIn (8%), Pinterest (4%), Twitter and Instagram (2% each) trailing far behind.


Just because the latter four social media sites aren’t the go-to for a person who does not want to belong to multiple networking sites, does not mean they are not without their own niche group of dedicated members. For digital marketers it is important to understand who the audience is on each platform:




-The fan base tends to consist of females ranging from 18-49 years old.


-Those on Pinterest are more likely to fall into a higher income bracket ($75,000 +) than the bottom income bracket (> $30,000).




-The percentage of adults using Twitter in 2013 remained relatively flat compared to 2012.


-Young adults ages 18-29 are the group most likely to use Twitter.


-Unlike Pinterest, there was not a large difference in terms of number of Twitter users by household income.




-Use of Instagram amongst adults has increased 4% over the last year, but the use of Instagram amongst those 18-29 years old has increased 9% since 2012. Other platforms did not show statistically significant increases or decreases in the percentage of adults using the platforms in 2013.


-There has been an 11% increase in Instagram use among African Americans.


-It is interesting to note that Instagram usage is more common among people living in urban areas than in rural areas.




-Adults on LinkedIn generally possess a college degree and are between the ages of 30-64 years old.


-There is a higher percentage of men (24%) reporting that they have LinkedIn than woman (19%).


-Those surveyed that use LinkedIn are commonly located in urban or suburban areas.


Understanding which platform would be best to focus on your particular demographic is essential to ensure that your marketing dollars are being spent efficiently. If you are currently active on Facebook and are looking to branch out to another platform, check the demographics to see if your target population is active on that platform before you jump in with both feet.



Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age

Posted on 7 August, 2013 at 7:20

This is a great article for any teacher who is passionate of using Social Networking Sites in the classroom.






Behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism are the three broad learning theories most often utilized in the creation of instructional environments. These theories, however, were developed in a time when learning was not impacted through technology. Over the last twenty years, technology has reorganized how we live, how we communicate, and how we learn. Learning needs and theories that describe learning principles and processes, should be reflective of underlying social environments. Vaill emphasizes that “learning must be a way of being – an ongoing set of attitudes and actions by individuals and groups that they employ to try to keep abreast o the surprising, novel, messy, obtrusive, recurring events…” (1996, p.42).


Learners as little as forty years ago would complete the required schooling and enter a career that would often last a lifetime. Information development was slow. The life of knowledge was measured in decades. Today, these foundational principles have been altered. Knowledge is growing exponentially. In many fields the life of knowledge is now measured in months and years. Gonzalez (2004) describes the challenges of rapidly diminishing knowledge life:



“One of the most persuasive factors is the shrinking half-life of knowledge. The “half-life of knowledge” is the time span from when knowledge is gained to when it becomes obsolete. Half of what is known today was not known 10 years ago. The amount of knowledge in the world has doubled in the past 10 years and is doubling every 18 months according to the American Society of Training and Documentation (ASTD). To combat the shrinking half-life of knowledge, organizations have been forced to develop new methods of deploying instruction.”


Some significant trends in learning:

◾ Many learners will move into a variety of different, possibly unrelated fields over the course of their lifetime.

◾ Informal learning is a significant aspect of our learning experience. Formal education no longer comprises the majority of our learning. Learning now occurs in a variety of ways – through communities of practice, personal networks, and through completion of work-related tasks.

◾ Learning is a continual process, lasting for a lifetime. Learning and work related activities are no longer separate. In many situations, they are the same.

◾ Technology is altering (rewiring) our brains. The tools we use define and shape our thinking.

◾ The organization and the individual are both learning organisms. Increased attention to knowledge management highlights the need for a theory that attempts to explain the link between individual and organizational learning.

◾ Many of the processes previously handled by learning theories (especially in cognitive information processing) can now be off-loaded to, or supported by, technology.

◾ Know-how and know-what is being supplemented with know-where (the understanding of where to find knowledge needed).




Driscoll (2000) defines learning as “a persisting change in human performance or performance potential…[which] must come about as a result of the learner’s experience and interaction with the world” (p.11). This definition encompasses many of the attributes commonly associated with behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism – namely, learning as a lasting changed state (emotional, mental, physiological (i.e. skills)) brought about as a result of experiences and interactions with content or other people.


Driscoll (2000, p14-17) explores some of the complexities of defining learning. Debate centers on:

◾ Valid sources of knowledge - Do we gain knowledge through experiences? Is it innate (present at birth)? Do we acquire it through thinking and reasoning?

◾ Content of knowledge – Is knowledge actually knowable? Is it directly knowable through human experience?

◾ The final consideration focuses on three epistemological traditions in relation to learning: Objectivism, Pragmatism, and Interpretivism ◾ Objectivism (similar to behaviorism) states that reality is external and is objective, and knowledge is gained through experiences.

◾ Pragmatism (similar to cognitivism) states that reality is interpreted, and knowledge is negotiated through experience and thinking.

◾ Interpretivism (similar to constructivism) states that reality is internal, and knowledge is constructed.




All of these learning theories hold the notion that knowledge is an objective (or a state) that is attainable (if not already innate) through either reasoning or experiences. Behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism (built on the epistemological traditions) attempt to address how it is that a person learns.


Behaviorism states that learning is largely unknowable, that is, we can’t possibly understand what goes on inside a person (the “black box theory”). Gredler (2001) expresses behaviorism as being comprised of several theories that make three assumptions about learning:

1. Observable behaviour is more important than understanding internal activities

2. Behaviour should be focused on simple elements: specific stimuli and responses

3. Learning is about behaviour change


Cognitivism often takes a computer information processing model. Learning is viewed as a process of inputs, managed in short term memory, and coded for long-term recall. Cindy Buell details this process: “In cognitive theories, knowledge is viewed as symbolic mental constructs in the learner's mind, and the learning process is the means by which these symbolic representations are committed to memory.”


Constructivism suggests that learners create knowledge as they attempt to understand their experiences (Driscoll, 2000, p. 376). Behaviorism and cognitivism view knowledge as external to the learner and the learning process as the act of internalizing knowledge. Constructivism assumes that learners are not empty vessels to be filled with knowledge. Instead, learners are actively attempting to create meaning. Learners often select and pursue their own learning. Constructivist principles acknowledge that real-life learning is messy and complex. Classrooms which emulate the “fuzziness” of this learning will be more effective in preparing learners for life-long learning.


Limitations of Behaviorism, Cognitivism, and Constructivism


A central tenet of most learning theories is that learning occurs inside a person. Even social constructivist views, which hold that learning is a socially enacted process, promotes the principality of the individual (and her/his physical presence – i.e. brain-based) in learning. These theories do not address learning that occurs outside of people (i.e. learning that is stored and manipulated by technology). They also fail to describe how learning happens within organizations


Learning theories are concerned with the actual process of learning, not with the value of what is being learned. In a networked world, the very manner of information that we acquire is worth exploring. The need to evaluate the worthiness of learning something is a meta-skill that is applied before learning itself begins. When knowledge is subject to paucity, the process of assessing worthiness is assumed to be intrinsic to learning. When knowledge is abundant, the rapid evaluation of knowledge is important. Additional concerns arise from the rapid increase in information. In today’s environment, action is often needed without personal learning – that is, we need to act by drawing information outside of our primary knowledge. The ability to synthesize and recognize connections and patterns is a valuable skill.


Many important questions are raised when established learning theories are seen through technology. The natural attempt of theorists is to continue to revise and evolve theories as conditions change. At some point, however, the underlying conditions have altered so significantly, that further modification is no longer sensible. An entirely new approach is needed.


Some questions to explore in relation to learning theories and the impact of technology and new sciences (chaos and networks) on learning:

◾ How are learning theories impacted when knowledge is no longer acquired in the linear manner?

◾ What adjustments need to made with learning theories when technology performs many of the cognitive operations previously performed by learners (information storage and retrieval).

◾ How can we continue to stay current in a rapidly evolving information ecology?

◾ How do learning theories address moments where performance is needed in the absence of complete understanding?

◾ What is the impact of networks and complexity theories on learning?

◾ What is the impact of chaos as a complex pattern recognition process on learning?

◾ With increased recognition of interconnections in differing fields of knowledge, how are systems and ecology theories perceived in light of learning tasks?


An Alternative Theory


Including technology and connection making as learning activities begins to move learning theories into a digital age. We can no longer personally experience and acquire learning that we need to act. We derive our competence from forming connections. Karen Stephenson states:



“Experience has long been considered the best teacher of knowledge. Since we cannot experience everything, other people’s experiences, and hence other people, become the surrogate for knowledge. ‘I store my knowledge in my friends’ is an axiom for collecting knowledge through collecting people (undated).”


Chaos is a new reality for knowledge workers. ScienceWeek (2004) quotes Nigel Calder's definition that chaos is “a cryptic form of order”. Chaos is the breakdown of predictability, evidenced in complicated arrangements that initially defy order. Unlike constructivism, which states that learners attempt to foster understanding by meaning making tasks, chaos states that the meaning exists – the learner's challenge is to recognize the patterns which appear to be hidden. Meaning-making and forming connections between specialized communities are important activities.


Chaos, as a science, recognizes the connection of everything to everything. Gleick (1987) states: “In weather, for example, this translates into what is only half-jokingly known as the Butterfly Effect – the notion that a butterfly stirring the air today in Peking can transform storm systems next month in New York” (p. 8). This analogy highlights a real challenge: “sensitive dependence on initial conditions” profoundly impacts what we learn and how we act based on our learning. Decision making is indicative of this. If the underlying conditions used to make decisions change, the decision itself is no longer as correct as it was at the time it was made. The ability to recognize and adjust to pattern shifts is a key learning task.


Luis Mateus Rocha (1998) defines self-organization as the “spontaneous formation of well organized structures, patterns, or behaviors, from random initial conditions.” (p.3). Learning, as a self-organizing process requires that the system (personal or organizational learning systems) “be informationally open, that is, for it to be able to classify its own interaction with an environment, it must be able to change its structure…” (p.4). Wiley and Edwards acknowledge the importance of self-organization as a learning process: “Jacobs argues that communities self-organize is a manner similar to social insects: instead of thousands of ants crossing each other’s pheromone trails and changing their behavior accordingly, thousands of humans pass each other on the sidewalk and change their behavior accordingly.”. Self-organization on a personal level is a micro-process of the larger self-organizing knowledge constructs created within corporate or institutional environments. The capacity to form connections between sources of information, and thereby create useful information patterns, is required to learn in our knowledge economy.


Networks, Small Worlds, Weak Ties


A network can simply be defined as connections between entities. Computer networks, power grids, and social networks all function on the simple principle that people, groups, systems, nodes, entities can be connected to create an integrated whole. Alterations within the network have ripple effects on the whole.


Albert-László Barabási states that “nodes always compete for connections because links represent survival in an interconnected world” (2002, p.106). This competition is largely dulled within a personal learning network, but the placing of value on certain nodes over others is a reality. Nodes that successfully acquire greater profile will be more successful at acquiring additional connections. In a learning sense, the likelihood that a concept of learning will be linked depends on how well it is currently linked. Nodes (can be fields, ideas, communities) that specialize and gain recognition for their expertise have greater chances of recognition, thus resulting in cross-pollination of learning communities.


Weak ties are links or bridges that allow short connections between information. Our small world networks are generally populated with people whose interests and knowledge are similar to ours. Finding a new job, as an example, often occurs through weak ties. This principle has great merit in the notion of serendipity, innovation, and creativity. Connections between disparate ideas and fields can create new innovations.




Connectivism is the integration of principles explored by chaos, network, and complexity and self-organization theories. Learning is a process that occurs within nebulous environments of shifting core elements – not entirely under the control of the individual. Learning (defined as actionable knowledge) can reside outside of ourselves (within an organization or a database), is focused on connecting specialized information sets, and the connections that enable us to learn more are more important than our current state of knowing.


Connectivism is driven by the understanding that decisions are based on rapidly altering foundations. New information is continually being acquired. The ability to draw distinctions between important and unimportant information is vital. The ability to recognize when new information alters the landscape based on decisions made yesterday is also critical.


Principles of connectivism:

◾ Learning and knowledge rests in diversity of opinions.

◾ Learning is a process of connecting specialized nodes or information sources.

◾ Learning may reside in non-human appliances.

◾ Capacity to know more is more critical than what is currently known

◾ Nurturing and maintaining connections is needed to facilitate continual learning.

◾ Ability to see connections between fields, ideas, and concepts is a core skill.

◾Currency (accurate, up-to-date knowledge) is the intent of all connectivist learning activities.

◾Decision-making is itself a learning process. Choosing what to learn and the meaning of incoming information is seen through the lens of a shifting reality. While there is a right answer now, it may be wrong tomorrow due to alterations in the information climate affecting the decision.


Connectivism also addresses the challenges that many corporations face in knowledge management activities. Knowledge that resides in a database needs to be connected with the right people in the right context in order to be classified as learning. Behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism do not attempt to address the challenges of organizational knowledge and transference.


Information flow within an organization is an important element in organizational effectiveness. In a knowledge economy, the flow of information is the equivalent of the oil pipe in an industrial economy. Creating, preserving, and utilizing information flow should be a key organizational activity. Knowledge flow can be likened to a river that meanders through the ecology of an organization. In certain areas, the river pools and in other areas it ebbs. The health of the learning ecology of the organization depends on effective nurturing of information flow.


Social network analysis is an additional element in understanding learning models in a digital era. Art Kleiner (2002) explores Karen Stephenson’s “quantum theory of trust” which “explains not just how to recognize the collective cognitive capability of an organization, but how to cultivate and increase it”. Within social networks, hubs are well-connected people who are able to foster and maintain knowledge flow. Their interdependence results in effective knowledge flow, enabling the personal understanding of the state of activities organizationally.


The starting point of connectivism is the individual. Personal knowledge is comprised of a network, which feeds into organizations and institutions, which in turn feed back into the network, and then continue to provide learning to individual. This cycle of knowledge development (personal to network to organization) allows learners to remain current in their field through the connections they have formed.


Landauer and Dumais (1997) explore the phenomenon that “people have much more knowledge than appears to be present in the information to which they have been exposed”. They provide a connectivist focus in stating “the simple notion that some domains of knowledge contain vast numbers of weak interrelations that, if properly exploited, can greatly amplify learning by a process of inference”. The value of pattern recognition and connecting our own “small worlds of knowledge” are apparent in the exponential impact provided to our personal learning.


John Seely Brown presents an interesting notion that the internet leverages the small efforts of many with the large efforts of few. The central premise is that connections created with unusual nodes supports and intensifies existing large effort activities. Brown provides the example of a Maricopa County Community College system project that links senior citizens with elementary school students in a mentor program. The children “listen to these “grandparents” better than they do their own parents, the mentoring really helps the teachers…the small efforts of the many- the seniors – complement the large efforts of the few – the teachers.” (2002). This amplification of learning, knowledge and understanding through the extension of a personal network is the epitome of connectivism.




The notion of connectivism has implications in all aspects of life. This paper largely focuses on its impact on learning, but the following aspects are also impacted:

◾ Management and leadership. The management and marshalling of resources to achieve desired outcomes is a significant challenge. Realizing that complete knowledge cannot exist in the mind of one person requires a different approach to creating an overview of the situation. Diverse teams of varying viewpoints are a critical structure for completely exploring ideas. Innovation is also an additional challenge. Most of the revolutionary ideas of today at one time existed as a fringe element. An organizations ability to foster, nurture, and synthesize the impacts of varying views of information is critical to knowledge economy survival. Speed of “idea to implementation” is also improved in a systems view of learning.

◾ Media, news, information. This trend is well under way. Mainstream media organizations are being challenged by the open, real-time, two-way information flow of blogging.

◾Personal knowledge management in relation to organizational knowledge management

◾ Design of learning environments




The pipe is more important than the content within the pipe. Our ability to learn what we need for tomorrow is more important than what we know today. A real challenge for any learning theory is to actuate known knowledge at the point of application. When knowledge, however, is needed, but not known, the ability to plug into sources to meet the requirements becomes a vital skill. As knowledge continues to grow and evolve, access to what is needed is more important than what the learner currently possesses.


Connectivism presents a model of learning that acknowledges the tectonic shifts in society where learning is no longer an internal, individualistic activity. How people work and function is altered when new tools are utilized. The field of education has been slow to recognize both the impact of new learning tools and the environmental changes in what it means to learn. Connectivism provides insight into learning skills and tasks needed for learners to flourish in a digital era.




Barabási, A. L., (2002) Linked: The New Science of Networks, Cambridge, MA, Perseus Publishing.


Buell, C. (undated). Cognitivism. Retrieved December 10, 2004 from


Brown, J. S., (2002). Growing Up Digital: How the Web Changes Work, Education, and the Ways People Learn. United States Distance Learning Association. Retrieved on December 10, 2004, from


Driscoll, M. (2000). Psychology of Learning for Instruction. Needham Heights, MA, Allyn & Bacon.


Gleick, J., (1987). Chaos: The Making of a New Science. New York, NY, Penguin Books.


Gonzalez, C., (2004). The Role of Blended Learning in the World of Technology. Retrieved December 10, 2004 from


Gredler, M. E., (2005) Learning and Instruction: Theory into Practice – 5th Edition, Upper Saddle River, NJ, Pearson Education.


Kleiner, A. (2002). Karen Stephenson’s Quantum Theory of Trust. Retrieved December 10, 2004 from


Landauer, T. K., Dumais, S. T. (1997). A Solution to Plato’s Problem: The Latent Semantic Analysis Theory of Acquisition, Induction and Representation of Knowledge. Retrieved December 10, 2004 from


Rocha, L. M. (1998). Selected Self-Organization and the Semiotics of Evolutionary Systems. Retrieved December 10, 2004 from


ScienceWeek (2004) Mathematics: Catastrophe Theory, Strange Attractors, Chaos. Retrieved December 10, 2004 from


Stephenson, K., (Internal Communication, no. 36) What Knowledge Tears Apart, Networks Make Whole. Retrieved December 10, 2004 from


Vaill, P. B., (1996). Learning as a Way of Being. San Francisco, CA, Jossey-Blass Inc.


Wiley, D. A and Edwards, E. K. (2002). Online self-organizing social systems: The decentralized future of online learning. Retrieved December 10, 2004 from



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License


Facebook is losing millions of users

Posted on 2 May, 2013 at 0:55


More evidence......Facebook is losing its user base at a fast rate, with up to 9 million users leaving the world’s largest social networking site. The company has been losing visitors at almost the same rate for the last six months. Most of these users are said to be leaving Facebook to check out other new social networking sites such as the Path and Instagram.


In the last month, Facebook lost 6 million users in the United States, which is a 4 per cent fall. And the website lost 1.4 million users in the United Kingdom, which is a 4.5 per cent fall. Facebook users in other parts of the world such as Canada, Spain, France, Germany and Japan are also switching off their Facebook profiles.



“The problem is that, in the US and UK, most people who want to sign up for Facebook have already done it,” said new media specialist Ian Maude at Enders Analysis. “There is a boredom factor where people like to try something new. Is Facebook going to go the way of Myspace? The risk is relatively small, but that is not to say it isn’t there.”


How is Facebook trying to overcome this? Well, we have no idea. And are you one of the millions of people who are switching off their profiles?


Source: Guardian



Schools Are Using Social Networking to Involve Parents

Posted on 30 April, 2013 at 19:40

By Nora Fleming

Digital technology is providing a growing variety of methods for school leaders to connect with parents anywhere, anytime—a tactic mirroring how technology is used to engage students. Through Twitter feeds, Facebook pages, and text messages sent in multiple languages, school staff members are giving parents instant updates, news, and information about their children's schools. Not only that, but a number of districts are also providing parents access to Web portals where they can see everything from their children's grades on school assignments to their locker combinations and what they're served for lunch.


Socioeconomic disparities in Internet access can make such digital-outreach efforts challenging and even divisive, however; some parents have many options for connecting digitally, and others don't. Yet some school leaders are meeting that challenge head-on by teaching parents how they can use technology to become more engaged in their children's education, and in some cases, by providing them with access to it in their own homes. "Digital learning levels the playing field among parents in a pretty profound way," said Elisabeth Stock, the chief executive officer and co-founder of CFY, or Computers for Youth, a New York City-based nonprofit that works with low-income communities and schools to improve digital literacy. "For low-income parents who feel they can no longer help their kids with learning as homework starts to become appreciably harder, access to high-quality digital learning content at home and the training to use it keeps these parents in the game," she said. "These parents can now easily find help online or learn side by side with their child."

Interest among school leaders in using digital tools to connect with parents in new and more cost-effective ways is rising across the country, educators say, in efforts to save staff time, ease language barriers through translation services, and provide opportunities to reach more parents than ever before, no matter their socioeconomic status. For those reasons, some of the largest districts have recently undertaken or expanded digital-engagement initiatives involving parents. This school year, the 1.1 million-student New York City system launched a new text-subscription service that notifies parents in English or Spanish of school news and a series of webinars on topics of relevance to parents. The 640,000-student Los Angeles school district hired its first-ever director of social media this past spring, whose main charge is communicating and sharing district information with parents and students via tools such as YouTube, Twitter, and Tumblr.

Those and similar efforts around the country are attracting the attention of parents. In the 182,000-student Fairfax County school system in Virginia, 84,500 people have subscribed to the district's enhanced news and information email and text service, the district's Facebook page has 26,000 "likes," and its Twitter account has 8,100 followers.

It's not only the biggest districts that are reaching out to parents digitally. Individual schools and smaller districts are also increasingly connecting to parents using a number of virtual tools, efforts often stemming from the vision of an administrator, such as the principal of the 600-student Knapp Elementary School, about 25 miles from Philadelphia. When Principal Joe Mazza took on his position six years ago, he made it a priority to use digital technologies to improve communication between the school and parents.

Today, the school—where 40 percent of the students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch and 22 languages are represented—has grown from its first outreach effort of an email listserv to communicating with parents through Twitter, Facebook, a parent-school Wiki, virtual chat, blog, and a Google text line. In addition, the school—part of the North Penn district—has its teachers use Skype to run parent conferences and airs live and archived video of all parent and teacher association meetings for parents who are unable to attend. Recently, Mr. Mazza and some staff members even brought laptops into a local mosque that a number of the school's families attend, and streamed live footage there of one of the meetings. "We have parents from all walks of life. The feedback we have from families has told us we can't provide a single communication means to engage them, so we provide a 'menu of offerings' they can pick and choose from," Mr. Mazza said. "Our goal is relating these family-engagement offerings to how we work with students, in a differentiated manner." Other school leaders have similar goals.

In California's 26,000-student Vista school district, 40 miles north of San Diego, Superintendent Devin Vodicka decided when he took the job this past summer to use social media to improve district communication with parents and staff members. Mr. Vodicka started a Twitter account and began making the rounds to schools, with the goal of reaching every classroom in the district and tweeting his experiences at each to his Twitter followers. Other administrators in the district have followed Mr. Vodicka's lead—now, 60 administrators have school-related Twitter and Facebook accounts, and around three-quarters of the schools now have some kind of social-media presence. Recently, a teacher told him, " 'I feel like I already know you from following you on Twitter and seeing what you see as you go around the district,' " Mr. Vodicka recalled.

Given that the level of access to and familiarity with digital technology can vary substantially among parents, some districts have made it just as much a priority to provide digital-literacy training to parents as to communicate with them via social-networking tools. To leaders in those districts, parents need to be familiar with such tools because their children continue to use social media and other technology tools for learning after the school day ends. The 203,000-student Houston district, for example, just launched a parent education initiative this school year around digital literacy; it targets low-income parents, most of whom do not have Internet access or even computers in their homes. More than 80 percent of the district's students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. With donations from the Microsoft Corp. as well as $25,000 from the local school endowment, the district created "parent super centers" on five school campuses. Each center provides classes and training to parents on office software, Internet use and safety, and the district's online grade-reporting system, among other topics. About 2,000 parents have already received training since the start of school this year, according to Kelly Cline, the senior manager of parent engagement for the Houston district. In addition, organizations such as the Boston-based Technology Goes Home and CFY are partnering with schools to provide parent, teacher, and school leader training and even computers for parents to use after completion of the training.

CFY, for example, has served more than 50,000 families in 13 years in New York City, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and the San Francisco Bay Area. The program, which works with schools where at least 75 percent of students are eligible for subsidized lunch, provides all-day training on weekends at school for parents to complete with their children. They learn how to use a computer, the Internet, and an academic platform that has lessons that are grade- and age-appropriate. Afterward, parents receive a refurbished, personal computer and are guided in how to get broadband Internet in their homes, which they can typically access at highly discounted rates. Ms. Stock said the organization often witnesses the leverage technology can have to repair relationships between schools and parents. Parents who felt the school saw them as apathetic suddenly feel more empowered to participate when the school provides them with technology and "enlists them as part of the solution," she said. One parent, Sadara Jackson McWhorter, said that until she completed the training with CFY in Atlanta over the summer, she didn't know even how to turn a computer on, let alone use the Internet. Now, Ms. McWhorter and her three school-age children use their new personal computer, the Internet, and the CFY content daily, she said. She's even using online tools to teach herself Spanish.

Wendy Lazarus, the chief executive officer and co-founder of The Children's Partnership, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based nonprofit that helped launch a school-based digital education initiative for parents in the Los Angeles area several years ago, said most of the attention around technology in education focuses either solely on schools or solely on the home. To have parents become both digitally literate and more engaged in their children's education, schools and organizations need to make bridging the gap between home and school a priority, she said. "New dollars aren't necessarily needed to implement a school-to-home model, but leaders would need to allow schools and school districts to blend funding from different sources," Ms. Lazarus said. "The model takes leadership, commitment, and a partnership sustained over time. And to achieve meaningful results, it needs to be available widely, not just in pilot efforts." But while more districts are seeing the importance of reaching parents digitally, in others, basic hurdles such as home Internet access are still waiting to be addressed.

When Sean Bulson, the superintendent of the 12,000-student Wilson County schools in a rural part of North Carolina, took his position last summer, he made improving digital learning in the district, where 60 percent of students are on subsidized lunch, a top goal. All middle school students now receive iPads to use at school and home, and the district hopes to provide all district students with devices to take to and from school in the future. But the impact of the technology is and will be limited, Mr. Bulson said, unless the district addresses the home-access issue: A number of families cannot afford high-speed Internet access, and it's not even available in the most isolated parts of the county. Students in those households can take their devices home, but they can't use them to connect to the Internet.

The Wilson County district is now applying for a federal Race to the Top district grant for $24 million to have its local fiber-optic-cable provider, Greenlight, connect families throughout the county to broadband. District families who couldn't afford to pay would receive free Internet service. It's the district's hope that once more families get connected to broadband, they can begin to do more digital outreach to parents, Mr. Bulson said, but right now access itself makes that an obstacle. Michael Searson, the executive director for the School for Global Education and Innovation at Kean University in Union, N.J., and the president of the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education, said addressing what technology is used, and where, is essential if educators continue to make using digital technology in schools a priority. "It's unethical to provide a robust digital learning program in school for kids who don't have access in their bedrooms and family rooms," Mr. Searson said. "As schools begin to integrate mobile devices and social media into education, the out-of-school equity issues have to be considered. Education leaders need to understand equity is not only access to devices, but access to the networks that allow people to get information."

Coverage of leadership, expanded learning time, and arts learning is supported in part by a grant from The Wallace Foundation, at

Facebook Is Losing Millions Of Users In The US And Other Mature Markets

Posted on 30 April, 2013 at 0:30

This is of particular interest to me at the moment as there was a recent article in an Australian Newspaper of similar trends happening in Australia:


Facebook has lost millions of users per month in its biggest markets, independent data suggests, as alternative social networks attract the attention of those looking for fresh online playgrounds.

As Facebook prepares to update investors on its performance in the first three months of the year, with analysts forecasting revenues up 36% on last year, studies suggest that its expansion in the US, UK and other major European countries has peaked.

In the last month, the world's largest social network has lost 6m US visitors, a 4% fall, according to analysis firm SocialBakers. In the UK, 1.4m fewer users checked in last month, a fall of 4.5%. The declines are sustained. In the last six months, Facebook has lost nearly 9m monthly visitors in the US and 2m in the UK.


Users are also switching off in Canada, Spain, France, Germany and Japan, where Facebook has some of its biggest followings. A spokeswoman for Facebook declined to comment.

"The problem is that, in the US and UK, most people who want to sign up for Facebook have already done it," said new media specialist Ian Maude at Enders Analysis. "There is a boredom factor where people like to try something new. Is Facebook going to go the way of Myspace? The risk is relatively small, but that is not to say it isn't there."

Alternative social networks such as Instagram, the photo sharing site that won 30m users in 18 months before Facebook acquired the business a year ago, have seen surges in popularity with younger age groups.

Path, the mobile phone-based social network founded by former Facebook employee Dave Morin, which restricts its users to 150 friends, is gaining 1m users a week and has recently topped 9m, with 500,000 Venezuelans downloading the app in a single weekend.

Facebook is still growing fast in South America: monthly visitors in Brazil were up 6% in the last month to 70m , according to SocialBakers, whose information is used by Facebook advertisers, while India has seen a 4% rise to 64m – still a fraction of the country's population, leaving room for further growth.

But in developed markets, other Facebook trackers are reporting declines. Analysts at Jefferies bank have developed an algorithm that interfaces directly with Facebook software and it "suggests user levels in [the first quarter] may have declined from peak", according to a recent note.

Jefferies saw global numbers peak at 1.05bn a month in January, before falling by 20m in February. Numbers rose again in April. The network has now lost nearly 2m visitors in the UK since December, according to research firm Nielsen, with its 27m total flat on a year ago.

The number of minutes Americans spend on Facebook appears to be falling, too. The average was 121 minutes in December 2012, but that fell to 115 minutes in February, according to comScore.

As Facebook itself has warned, the time spent on its pages from those sitting in front of personal computers is declining rapidly because we are switching our screen time to smartphones and tablets.

While smartphone minutes have doubled in a year to 69 a month, that growth is not guaranteed to compensate for dwindling desktop usage.

Facebook is the most authoritative source on its own user numbers, and the firm will update investors on its performance for the March quarter on Wednesday. Wall Street expects revenues of about $1.44bn, up from $1.06bn a year ago.

Shareholders will be particularly keen to learn how fast Facebook's mobile user base is growing, and whether advertising revenues are increasing at the same rate.

Mobile represented nearly a quarter of Facebook's advertising income at the end of 2012, and the network had 680m mobile users a month in December.

According to Pivotal Research Group, advertising revenue could be up 49%, driven by international expansion and the FBX advertising exchange, which uses Facebook to target advertising related to other websites surfers have visited.

The company warned in recent stockmarket filings that it might be losing "younger users" to "other products and services similar to, or as a substitute for, Facebook".

Wary of competition from services that were invented for the mobile phone rather than the PC, founder Mark Zuckerberg has driven through a series of new initiatives in the last year designed to appeal to smartphone users. The most significant is Facebook Home, software that can be downloaded on to certain Android phones to feed news and photos from friends – and advertising – directly to the owner's locked home screen.


This article originally appeared on


Technology and Teacher Preparation

Posted on 6 April, 2013 at 3:45

Aspiring teachers want more digital avenues for learning, says a new report from Project Tomorrow.


The findings are included in the report Learning in the 21st Century: Digital Experiences and Expectations of Tomorrow’s Teachers, prepared by Blackboard Inc. and Project Tomorrow, which includes findings from the Speak Up for Aspiring Teachers survey of nearly 1,400 college students in teacher preparation programs during spring 2012. The data collected from the aspiring teachers was compared with the results of the surveys completed by 36,477 in-service K-12 teachers and 4,133 administrators during Speak Up surveys from fall 2011.


Since 2007, Project Tomorrow has collaborated with Blackboard Inc. to create a series of annual reports that focus on key trends in the use of technology to increase student achievement, teacher productivity and parental engagement. This new report is the latest in the series and provides new insights that will inform college and university based teacher preparation programs as well as the induction and professional development processes within K-12 schools and districts. Tomorrow’s teachers may have the keys to finally unlock the potential of technology to transform teaching and learning, but much depends upon their experiences in their preparation program and how well future school leadership can support their expectations for essential technology tools and resources.


Highlights from the report include the following:

◾Aspiring teachers are tapping into emerging technologies such as social media and mobile devices to self-prepare themselves for their future teaching assignments. For example, tomorrow’s teachers are leveraging social networking sites and discussion boards as informal professional development sources to complement their formal coursework.

◾In spite of their comfort with using technology tools, the aspiring teachers say that their field experiences as student teachers and observing their professors are the best way for them to learn about how to integrate technology within instruction.

◾School principals have high expectations for the pre-service technology experiences of their future teachers. The specific technology tools and techniques that the aspiring teachers are learning to use in their methods courses however do not match the expectations of those school principals.

◾Aspiring teachers place a high value on the role of technology to both impact student academic success and their own effectiveness as a teacher.

◾Thinking about their future teaching assignment, aspiring teachers consider access to technology tools and resources to support instructional plans as one of the top five factors that will determine their future success as a teacher.


Future teachers want more digital, mobile and social technology integrated into their training and, in turn, their future classrooms, according to a survey report released from Blackboard Inc. and Project Tomorrow®. According to the report, nearly 50 percent of students in teacher training programs use online podcasts and videos and turn to social networking sites to self-train for future teaching assignments.


The tendency for tomorrow’s teachers to leverage technology is a direct result of their own experience as “active learners” – students who expect technology to extend teaching and learning. The report finds that over half of the aspiring teachers polled (58 percent) are taking online classes and nearly the same amount (52 percent) use digital textbooks as a part of their education experience.


The findings, intended to inform preparation and professional development programs for new teachers, also reveal that today’s principals have high expectations for the use of technology in classrooms. Over 80 percent of principals polled want their future hires to use digital tools to connect and communicate with students and their parents.


“Due to increased access to digital learning tools throughout their lives, aspiring teachers gravitate toward online collaboration, which translates to a more self-directed teaching approach,” said Julie Evans, chief executive officer of Project Tomorrow. “The correlation between an educator’s familiarity with technology, and the strong likelihood of using that technology within instruction, is a good way to predict the future classroom.”


The survey also found that over 40 percent of students in teacher training programs sought career guidance online from educators outside of their institution, demonstrating the important role that access to and fluency in technology tools can play in their future success.


“In order to be effective in the classroom and create an engaging learning environment, a great teacher needs to realize that children today are exposed to a vast amount of technology outside of the classroom, and when they walk into a classroom, they are walking back in time,” said an aspiring elementary school teacher from Purdue University that participated in the survey.


To access the report, see


How Many People Used the Top Social Media, Apps & Services in March 2013?

Posted on 9 March, 2013 at 20:00


How Many People Use the Top Social Media, Apps & Services?

(March 2013)


Airbnb: 3 million users, 300,000 listings 20,000 users

AppGratis: 10 million users

Badoo: 172 million users

Bebo: 30 million users

Blippar: 1 million downloads 15 million users

Branchout: 30 million users

Buffer: 500,000 users

Care2: 18 million users 25 million users 55 million users

Cooliris: 3 million users+

Deezer: 26 million users

Douban: 100 million users

Dropbox: Over 100 million users, 1 billion files uploaded daily

Edmodo: 15 million users

Ebay: 100 million active users

Eskimi: 10 million users

Etsy: 20 million users, 100 million products

Evernote: 45 million users

Fab: 11 million users

Facebook: 1.06 billion monthly active users, 680 million mobile users, more than 42 million pages and 9 million apps

See Also: By The Numbers: 22 Amazing Facebook Stats

Fancy: 2 million users

Feedly: 3 million users

Flickr: 75 million users

Flipboard: 20 million users

Fotopedia: 14 million users

foursquare: 25 million users, 1 million businesses, 10.4 million monthly users

For More foursquare Coverage 6.6 million users

Giggle: 3.2 million users

Glassdoor: 14 million users

Glympse: 4 million users

Gmail: 425 million users

Goodreads: 13 million users

Gogobot: 2.5 million users

Google+: 343 million active users

For More Google+ Coverage

Groupon: 36.9 million users (Tweet this stab)

Hootsuite: 5 million users

Hotmail: 286 million users

Hulu Plus: 3 million users

iCloud: 250 million users

iHeartRadio: 20 million users

Imgur: 56 million users

Instagram: 100 million users, 4 billion photos

Kakao Talk: 70 million users

Keek: 6 million users

Kik Messenger: 30 million users

LevelUp: 1 million users

Life360: 25 million users

Line: 100 million users

LinkedIn: 200 million users

Listia: 2 million users

LockerDome: 4 million users

LoginRadius: 10 million users

MeetMe: 1 million users

MeetMoi: 3 million users

Mega: 3 million users, 125 million files uploaded 10 million users

Momo: 20 million users

Mxit: 50 million users

MyFitnessPal: 30 million users

MyHeritage: 72 million users

MyLife: 60 million users

MySpace: 25 million users

Netflix: 30 million users

Netlog: 84 million users

Nimbuzz: 100 million users

Ookbee: 3 million users

ooVoo: 70 million subscribers

Openstreetmap: 1 million users

Ortsbo: 212 million unique users 60 million users

Pandora Radio: 175 million registered users

Path: 6 million users

Paypal: 117 million users

PicMix: 8 million users, 108 million photos

Pinterest: 25 million users

For More Pinterest Coverage

Pocket: 7.4 million users

Pulse: 20 million users

qeep: 18 million users

Quora: 1.5 million monthly unique users

QQ: 700 million monthly users

Qzone: 500 million users 3 million users

Rdio: 10 million users

Reddit: 43 million users, 400 million unique visitors; 37 Billion Page Views

Renren: 100 million users

Rounds: 6 million users

Rovio (Angry Birds): 1 billion downloads, 263 million monthly active users

Runkeeper: 14 million users

Shazam: 300 million users; 5 billion tags

Shopkick: 4 million users

Sina Weibo: 503 million users

SkillPages: 8 million users

Skype: 280 million users

Slacker: 4 million monthly users

Socialcam: 56 million monthly users

Songza: 1 million users

Sonico: 55 million users

Soundcloud: 180 million monthly users

SoundHound: 100 million users

Spotify: 33 million active monthly users, 5 million paid subscribers

Square: 3 million users, 250,000 merchants

Steam: 50 million users

Stumbleupon: 25 million users, 1 billion monthly page referrals

Tagged: 330 million registered users

Tango: 80 million users

Trello: 1 million users

Truecaller: 11 million users

Tuenti: 13 million users

Tumblr: 150 million users

Twitter: 500 million total users, more than 200 million active users

For More Twitter Coverage

Viber: 175 million users

Viddy: 39 million users

Viggle: 1.8 million users

Vimeo: 12.6 million users 145,000 users 190 million users

Voxer: 70 million users

WAYN: 21 million users

Waze: 34 million users

WeChat: 300 million users

WeiXin: 100 million registered users

Wix: 25 million users

WordPress: 74 million blogs

Wrapp: 1 million users

Xing: 11 million users

Yahoo! Mail: 281 million users

Yammer: 7 million users

Yelp: 78 million users; 30 million reviews

Youtube: 800 million users, 4 billion views per day

Yummly: 7.5 million monthly users



The Impact of Social Media on Children, Adolescents, and Families

Posted on 23 February, 2013 at 5:10

Came across this article. Just fantastic! Its definitely going to assist me with my proposal and research!


The Impact of Social Media on Children, Adolescents, and Families

Gwenn Schurgin O'Keeffe, MD, Kathleen Clarke-Pearson, MD, Council on Communications and Media


Abstract: Using social media Web sites is among the most common activity of today's children and adolescents. Any Web site that allows social interaction is considered a social media site, including social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter; gaming sites and virtual worlds such as Club Penguin, Second Life, and the Sims; video sites such as YouTube; and blogs. Such sites offer today's youth a portal for entertainment and communication and have grown exponentially in recent years. For this reason, it is important that parents become aware of the nature of social media sites, given that not all of them are healthy environments for children and adolescents. Pediatricians are in a unique position to help families understand these sites and to encourage healthy use and urge parents to monitor for potential problems with cyberbullying, “Facebook depression,” sexting, and exposure to inappropriate content.


Social media participation also can offer adolescents deeper benefits that extend into their view of self, community, and the world, including:

  • opportunities for community engagement through raising money for charity and volunteering for local events, including political and philanthropic events;
  • enhancement of individual and collective creativity through development and sharing of artistic and musical endeavors;
  • growth of ideas from the creation of blogs, podcasts, videos, and gaming sites;
  • expansion of one's online connections through shared interests to include others from more diverse backgrounds (such communication is an important step for all adolescents and affords the opportunity for respect, tolerance, and increased discourse about personal and global issues); and
  • fostering of one's individual identity and unique social skills.


Enhanced Learning Opportunities

Middle and high school students are using social media to connect with one another on homework and group projects. For example, Facebook and similar social media programs allow students to gather outside of class to collaborate and exchange ideas about assignments. Some schools successfully use blogs as teaching tools,12 which has the benefit of reinforcing skills in English, written expression, and creativity.



Using social media becomes a risk to adolescents more often than most adults realize. Most risks fall into the following categories: peer-to-peer; inappropriate content; lack of understanding of online privacy issues; and outside influences of third-party advertising groups.


Privacy Concerns:

The main risk to preadolescents and adolescents online today are risks from each other, risks of improper use of technology, lack of privacy, sharing too much information, or posting false information about themselves or others.28 These types of behavior put their privacy at risk.


When Internet users visit various Web sites, they can leave behind evidence of which sites they have visited. This collective, ongoing record of one's Web activity is called the “digital footprint.” One of the biggest threats to young people on social media sites is to their digital footprint and future reputations. Preadolescents and adolescents who lack an awareness of privacy issues often post inappropriate messages, pictures, and videos without understanding that “what goes online stays online.”8 As a result, future jobs and college acceptance may be put into jeopardy by inexperienced and rash clicks of the mouse. Indiscriminate Internet activity also can make children and teenagers easier for marketers and fraudsters to target.


What is it like? Doing a PhD?

Posted on 27 January, 2013 at 7:40

I officially started my PhD last October, and although I have completed quite a lot of work thus far (in 3 months), I still feel as though time is against me and that I have made little progress.


As you can tell by my Blog entries, I am not a full time student, nor am I a full time teacher. I am someone whom wears many, many hats and likes to do quite a lot ALL OF THE TIME. But, please dont get me wrong. I am not one to complain about the huge volume of work that I need to complete. On the contrary, I quite enjoy it.


I completed a Masters in Education in 2011 and thought that I would take a year off and relax and 'enjoy' life. Instead, I attended every professional learning session, workshop and industry open day that was available to every NSW Teacher. I learned so much last year and met so many amazing educators, that when it came to writing my application for my PhD, I knew exactly what I wanted to study and felt that had the know-how to do it. Meeting teachers from other schools, regardless if they are from a DEC or Non DEC school, rural or city school, single sex or co-ed school, we all have the same goal...and that is to help our students be excited about their learning journey. 


My learning journey is no where near complete. As I stated, I begin my PhD in October and step 1 was to organise all of the adminstrative tasks to be a member of the university. Macquarie University is a fantastic institution as much of it could be completed online and within a few keystrokes, I had access to the university's library and the most sophisticated databases around the world. I then began familiarising myself with the latest literature in social networking. As this has been a very passionate area for me and something that I can continuously immerse my students in within the classroom, this was a relatively easy task. Although my collection of readings were a couple of years old, updating it seemed relatively simple. In November, I began writing my research proposal. I am one to work in 'stints'. I will be able to do quite a lot of work for a day or two and then stop for a week and then repeat my habit. Im also very lucky that I am a nightowl and that I dont require much sleep as this is when I am able to complete a lot of work without disturbance. I have now submitted 2 drafts and although I am 'liking' the direction my research proposal is heading, I am realistic to understand that it could and probably, will change. Like the actual research, flexibility is the key...times change and so must we.


The next things that I must do is find schools who would like to participate in my study, create my research instruments and start writing my ethics applications (I have 3 to complete).


Friends and colleagues have begun asking me what the workload of a PhD is like and how I am finding the experience. Well, so far, its ok. I dont feel overwhelmed (I only feel overwhelmed at report time). I have time to research and to read and I always have time for my family and friends. So far, my personal life has not been impacted by my studies.


I believe that having a supervisor that you can trust and that is genuinly interested in assisting you makes a difference. I communicate with my supervisor mainly by email and his response time is so fast, that it allows me to maintain my momentum. He is also extremely motivating and always knows how to keep me excited about my research. If you are thinking about completing a postgraduate degree with a research component, interview the lecturers at your university first - believe me, it will make a huge difference to your own personal outcomes and goals.


Having a great support network is key to success - regardless of what you do!



What is the 'Facebook Graph' Search?

Posted on 25 January, 2013 at 7:30

Facebook introduced a new revolution system named Facebook graph search. Its simply a tool that one can use to find people who shares your interests. Facebook Inc announced to their users that it is a privacy setting that works like a news feed. Users can use this tool that help them find information’s about another's network.


The graph searches through photos of friends, restaurants your friends have been to, photos one likes, music and so forth. Its a great tool for individuals who are not experienced with Facebook as they can find what they are looking for quite easily. The Facebook graph search tool helps individuals to search and retrieve the things that he is looking for.....perfect for potential employers! what are the implications for education?

Twitter Introduced New Video Sharing Service Vine (Video)

Posted on 25 January, 2013 at 7:30

Twitter Newly introduced video sharing service named Vine. Vine is a mobile based video sharing service to share short looping videos. Everyone can share their (6 seconds or less) videos. Twitter bring the Vine application to capture your favorite motion and sounds.


You need Adobe Flash Player to view this content.



This Vine application provides the option to share 140-characters tweet or 6 second video. You can share this video in Facebook or twitter through Vine application.Vain also offer video search option based on subjects or hash tags. Vine application now support English only. This application must required iOS 5.0 or later.


Now this Vine application available on iPhone and iPad touch.


You can find more details about Vine in their official blog.

Using Social Media in Schools

Posted on 27 November, 2012 at 2:55

Implementing social networking sites into the classroom is as critical as it is to implement them to support whole school initiatives. Our school is currently in the process of revamping all of its promotional material including its website, and after many years, many key members of our school have realised the importance of keeping this crucial instruments up-to-date and modernised. Many teachers who would easily be classed as a digital alien are now seeking assistance in how to use Facebook and twitter (a digital alien is someone who was not raised with technology - they are typically aged over 40 years). They see the necessity of keeping their students up to date with class movements and information that will benefit their learning. Groups within our school are now opting for their own Facebook page. Today, we have 4 Facebook pages - each which support their overall goals and purpose. This number will significantly increase in 2013. Interestingly, all of the teachers who coordinate these groups are all digital aliens.


This is supporting my theories that social networking sites should be used in education - whether it be for teaching and learning purposes or for promotional reasons. All schools should consider using these sites as their audience - students and parents already use these technologies, therefore disseminating information to them is quick and simple.


The facebook page that I currently manage is Please feel free to look at it and use it as a model for your school.

Friends or the 'Like'?

Posted on 7 November, 2012 at 6:15

I know this topic seems a little far-fetched, but I have spent a considerable amount of time analysing the social behaviours of teenage students, that I am now pondering the social behaviours of my own. I like many educators, parent or adult (who are at a Westfields anywhere) see how teenagers interact with each other in ‘person’. This is often different to how they interact ‘online’. There is much evidence that already supports this notion of teenagers acting differently online, however, research also states that teenagers are ‘awkward, friendless and have little social skills’ when out and about in the real world and therefore are forced to create a fake persona that they can live through online. Im not sure which teenager you are mentally picturing right now, but every single teenager at my school including all of my nieces and nephews do not fit this profile. In fact, they couldn’t be more ‘in’ as all they appear to do is constantly check that their hair is perfect and take photos of themselves with a mobile phone. For those who claim that they have no friends in real life, a fake persona online makes teenagers more accepted and ‘liked’ by hundreds, if not thousands of people that they generally don’t know. So, if making friends whilst being a teenager is so difficult, what do us 'over 30s' need to do to find a friend or is it all over for us?


I’m not sure how many people can relate to my story, but I feel that I have more sincere friends now than I have ever had. And many of those are people I am still meeting. Colleagues that I once said ‘hi’ to as I passed them in the corridor are now turning into great friends and our social media interaction simply supports our friendship, not dominating it (this means, that we still ‘talk’ in case you are one to ‘inbox’ a conversation). People I am meeting at conferences, networking meetings, professional learning sessions and more and now considered to be more than an ‘acquaintance’. This is certainly the proof that I need to confirm that friendships, valuable friendships, can be made at any age, phase or stage of our lives. So, thank you to all of my new friends and thank you to social media for helping us stay in touch whilst still giving us our voices.

In Search of a True Definition of a Social Networking Site

Posted on 21 October, 2012 at 7:20

So, what exactly is a Social Networking Site (SNS)?

Defining Social Networking Sites is as complex as finding and agreeing on a most accepted term for this internet based technological tool. The terms ‘social networking’, ‘social media’, ‘social networking service’ and ‘social software’ are all used interchangeably in ones attempts to define these websites that many individuals are embracing in their personal, professional and educational lives. It is noted that the term ‘social networking sites’ is most commonly used by scholars and bloggers and perhaps considered to be a more respected term within scholarly documents, thus will be used as the preferred term for the purposes of this paper.


Interestingly there are differences in social networking site definitions written by scholars and bloggers. Scholars tend to define social networking sites by their technical capabilities and its benefits whereas bloggers tend to define social networking sites quite vaguely as well include a list of its characteristics. A comparison of these will be discussed in this paper. There are also vast differences in definitions of what ‘a social networking site constitutes of’ over time. This is mainly due the development of tools, widgets, add-ons and applications that are now available that may not have been available at the original time of print of that particular publication. These definitions will also be recorded. Moreover, many definitions (including those written recently) state that social networking site users are teenagers and often solely refer to this demographic when explaining its use. This is extremely interesting as there is much data that confirm that the most typical users of social networking site are female and aged between 18 and 30 years. Recent data has also noted that the elderly are also utilising this tool.


It must also be noted that there is an extensive collection of literature that discusses social networking sites within a medical context. Within each of these definitions, specific medical websites are identified in an attempt to authenticate the definition. In most instances, the definition of a social networking site is general and only consists of its ability to connect numerous people within a virtual context. Additionally these papers proceed to illustrate the full acceptance and active use of medicine based social networking sites for its professionals and patients. It has also been identified that there is an emergence of scholarly publications that discuss social networking in various professions, such as that of marketing and advertising, translation, media and nationalism, which also discuss social networking sites in context with their industry.


According to a report by Nielsen (2012): “In the U.S. alone, total minutes spent on social networking sites have increased 83 percent year-over-year. In fact, total minutes spent on Facebook increased nearly 700 percent year-over-year, growing from 1.7 billion minutes in April 2008 to 13.9 billion in April 2009, making it the No. 1 social networking site for the month.”

Rationale for finding the ideal definition

Determining the most sound definition for social networking sites is imperative as it determines which sites can be classified as a ‘social networking site’. Some scholars and bloggers include social networking sites to be a part of the Web 2.0 suite whereas, others do not. Some classify websites to be a social networking site, whereas, others do not. Additionally, some recognise social networking tools and add-ons to be a critical component of what constitutes a social networking site whereas others do not. This is quite important as it results in some identifying sites such as twitter and Google as a social networking site whereas others do not. Having a clear definition of what a social networking site is may lead to a distinctive list of which website IS a social networking site. This is actually more difficult than anticipated as even Alexa Web Company (2012), the most accepted internet traffic tracking website has multiple categories for social networking sites and each category is a stand-alone list. For example, Facebook is only in ONE of their many lists that fall under the social networking site banner.

The most accepted social networking site definition

The first considered definitions of social networking sites were those that referred to Computed Mediated Communications (CMC’s) (Lockyear) which are considered to be a communicative transaction that occurs through the use of two or more computers. Recent definitions have also extended this and include ‘computer mediated formats’ which accept tools such as instant messaging, email, chat rooms and text messaging (Thurlow, Lengel, & Tomic 2004) to be considered as a CMC.


The most common social networking definition is a definition that is repeatedly used as a point of reference in many scholarly publications is that by Boyd and Ellison (2007). Boyd & Ellison (2007) define social networking sites (SNSs) as “web-based services that allow individuals to (1) construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system, (2) articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and (3) view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system” (para. 4). Boyd & Ellison (2007) also state that “what makes social network sites unique is not that they allow individuals to meet strangers, but rather that they enable users to articulate and make visible their social networks” (para. 6). Thus, this definition is the most recognised and accepted definition of social networking sites. It should, therefore, be used as a basis for further elaboration, simply due to the technological advancements (as stated) since 2007.


Boyd and Ellison (2007) use the term "social network site" to describe this phenomenon, the term "social networking sites" also appears in public discourse, and the two terms are often used interchangeably. We chose not to employ the term "networking" for two reasons: emphasis and scope. "Networking" emphasizes relationship initiation, often between strangers. While networking is possible on these sites, it is not the primary practice on many of them, nor is it what differentiates them from other forms of computer-mediated communication (CMC).


They continue to add that on many of the large SNSs, participants are not necessarily "networking" or looking to meet new people; instead, they are primarily communicating with people who are already a part of their extended social network. To emphasize this articulated social network as a critical organizing feature of these sites, we label them "social network sites." While SNSs are often designed to be widely accessible, many attract homogeneous populations initially, so it is not uncommon to find groups using sites to segregate themselves by nationality, age, educational level, or other factors that typically segment society (Hargittai, 2007), even if that was not the intention of the designers.


Today, almost all definitions use Facebook as an example when defining social networking sites. Facebook is the number 1 social networking site, and has been, since its commencement into the World Wide Web regardless of being blocked (not available) in numerous countries.

Social Media Usage Statistics for 2012 Infographic Summary:

Posted on 16 October, 2012 at 5:25

Stumbled across this and am absolutely fascinated by it



1. Facebook has 845 million active users.

2. The average Facebook user has 130 friends.

3. The average Facebook visit lasts 23 minutes.

4. 46% of Facebook users are over the age of 45.

5. 57% of Facebook users are female (43% male).

6. 57% of Facebook users report having been to “some college” (24% bachelors or graduate degree).

7. 47% of Facebook users report making between $50,000 – $99,000 annually (33% between $25,000 – $49,999).



1. Titter has 127 million active users.

2. 13% of internet users also use Twitter.

3. 54% of Twitter users use Twitter on their mobile devices.

4. 36% of Twitter users tweet at least once a day.

5. The average visit on Twitter lasts for 14 minutes.

6. 59% of Twitter users are female (41% male).



1. Google+ has had 90 million unique visitors.

2. Google+ users are 71% male.

3. The most common occupation of a Google+ user is an engineer.

4. 44% of Google+ users are “single”.



1. Pinterest has had 21 million unique visits.

2. The top locations for Pinterest users are Mississippi, Alabama, Kentucky and Tennessee.

3. The top interests of Pinterest users are crafts, hobbies, interior design and fashion.

4. 82% of Pinterest users are female (18% male).

5. The average Pinterest visit lasts 17 minutes.



1. LinkedIn has 150 million registered users.

2. 75% of LinkedIn users use it for business purposes.

3. There are 2 million companies on LinkedIn.

4. 50% of LinkedIn users have a bachelors or graduate degree.


Social Media Defined

Posted on 10 October, 2012 at 6:35

In an effort to create the most sound definition of Social Media, I came across this list. Very interesting to see what the perceptions of others are....and just how it is all based on perspective:

1. Media is an instrument on communication, like a newspaper or a radio, so social media would be a social instrument of communication

2. Social media is content created and shared by individuals on the web using freely available websites that allow users to create and post their own images, video and text information and then share that with either the entire internet or just a select group of friends

3. Social media essentially is a category of online media where people are talking, participating, sharing, networking, and bookmarking online

4. The online forms of communicating to the masses, which include blogs, microblogs, social networking sites and podcasts

5. Social media is any online media platform that provides content for users and also allows users to participate in the creation or development of the content in some way

6. Social Media is the sharing of user (human) created information and interacting on-line using Internet technology

7. Social Media is the democratization of information, transforming people from content readers into publishers. It is the shift from a broadcast mechanism, one-to-many, to a many-to-many model, rooted in conversations between authors, people, and peers

8. Social media in plain English (video)

9. Social Media is the new term for socialising online. It allows people to freely interact with each other online where-ever they are and whenever they want

10. Social media are the various forms of user generated content and the collection of websites and applications that enables people to interact and share information online

11. Social media is the use of technology combined with social interaction to create or co-create value

12. Social media is people having conversations online. These conversations can take a variety of forms; for example, blogs and comments or photo sharing

13. Digital word of mouth

14. Social media is people having conversations online

15. Social Media is the meeting place between people and technology

16. Social Media is often used as another term for user-generated content

17. An umbrella term that defines the various activities that integrate technology, social interaction, and the construction of words and pictures

18. Social media explained (video)

19. Internet-based software and interfaces that allow individuals to interact with one another, exchanging details about their lives such as biographical data, professional information, personal photos and up-to-the-minute thought

20. Social media is any media form that displays itself to an open public and encourages interaction between the host and all observers

21. Social media is the technological path of least resistance for two-way communication and distribution through a large audience who would otherwise be unconnected if it were not for the technological medium

22. Social media is a group of Internet-based applications that allow the creation and exchange of user generated content. This content is then shared through social interaction

23. Social media is content created by people using highly accessible and scalable publishing technologies. At its most basic sense, social media is a shift in how people discover, read and share news, information and content

24. What is Social Media (presentation)

25. Social media is life online

26. Social Media, by definition, is the collection of strategies, practices and tools for communicating, creating, sharing and discussing news, information and other media online

27. Social media is technically a means for social interaction through the web

28. Social media are online venues, such as social networking sites, blogs and wikis that enable people to store and share information called content, such as text, pictures, video and links

29. Social media is about interacting with and sharing information with others online

30. Social media are online communications in which individuals shift fluidly and flexibly between the role of audience and author. To do this, they use social software that enables anyone without knowledge of coding, to post, comment on, share or mash up content and to form communities around shared interests

31. Social media is game changing, not a closed system, not just another media, transparent, more than blogs, decentralized and real-time and measurable

33. Social media is communications

34. Internet media that has the ability to interact with it in some way

35. Social media itself is a catch-all term for sites that may provide radically different social actions

36. Social Media is simply people having conversations online

37. Social media is people meeting other people

38. Simply refers to communication/publication platforms which are generated and sustained by the interpersonal interaction of individuals through the specific medium or tool

39. Social media also includes social networks that insist on people to come together online that shares a common interest

40. Media is an instrument of communication, like a newspaper or a radio, so social media would be a social instrument of communication

41. Social media explained visually (presentation)

42. Social media isn’t about the media, it’s about being social

43. Social media is people talking to people online

44. Social Media is word of mouth on steroids

45. Social Media consists of media that support and encourage social interaction among user

46. Social Media is generally any website or service that uses Web 2.0 techniques and concepts

47. A term used to describe a variety of Web-based platforms, applications and technologies that enable people to socially interact with one another online

48. Social media are media for social interaction, using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques

49. Social media mainly consists of user-generated Internet content

50. Social media is user generated content that is shared over the internet via technologies that promote engagement, sharing and collaboration

Social Media in Schools

Posted on 25 September, 2012 at 6:55

A plethora of research and blogs exist out there claiming to inform educators of the latest tools and technologies that are best to use in the classroom. however, the vast majority fail to explain why or how its implementation actually increases participation rates, literacy or numeracy levels.

It is recognised that girls use Social Networking SItes more than boys, however, is this simply because girls need to 'socialise' with their peers or is it because boys are simply playing onoine games with each other? And when will gaming (traditional and online) be recognised as a form of social media?

New data is emerging daily about new research techniques that educators are using to prove that these tools are essential, however, almost all is still conducted internationally and in tertiary education. My goal, is to find its use within an Australian context and within secondary schools!


Can social media really be used to teach and learn?

Posted on 6 September, 2012 at 5:40

In preparation for my PhD, I have begun immersing myself in literature and new research regarding the latest developments and theorems surrounding the use of social media in an educational context. There are so many people attempting to define social media and trying to include every facet in relation to this definition, where in reality, this cannot be achieved. As we all know, any technological device, whether it be a pc, mobile phone etc that are state-of-the-art today will be out of date and possibly even redundant tomorrow. Social media is exactly the same. Publications written 5 years ago document that Facebook is inferior to MySpace and the like. Today, undoubtedly, Facebook is the number 1 social media website in the world. 

Further to defining this paradigm, many have attempted to either discuss the successes or failures of using social media in the classroom. Unfortunately, many of these have an underlying message of using iPads, mobile devices, looking at privacy issues, and thus do not provide a clear finding on whether social media can be used pedagogically.

I continue my journey to finding up-to-date information about the use of social media and it's use in a high school (and where possible), in australa. 

tweet, post & learn @ social media ;-P

Posted on 2 September, 2012 at 20:05

Using social media in the classroom seems like a giant leap for many teachers, however, it is a technology that is already embraced by teenage students and is extremely easy to use to support the teaching and learning of any content area.

Using edmodo, blogster, twitter and even QR Codes will not only increase the motivation, engagement and participation of students, but will lead to an increase of understanding of subject content.

It was found in a recent research study that students who used multiple types of Social Networking Sites to complete their work were more successful at completing their work and felt that they ‘learned more’ using these technologies. This study was conducted in a NSW DET school and required the teacher to ‘tweet’ her students the URL of the Social Media Site (edmodo) that was to be accessed to download the classwork. Students received the tweet via their phones/tablets and were able to use their phones or tablets to complete the class work. The study saw students upload their completed work and contribute to the blog by reflecting on their lesson.

This study also found that there was very limited Net Lingo (sms talk) used when using these mediums and that students overall communicated correctly and effectively. More importantly, there was no evidence of any cyberbullying.

If there is restricted access on these sites at your school, effective social media lessons can still be created and used. Using Maang or Blog Ed is a great gateway to train your students how to use Social Media correctly and provides you, the teacher, with full access and control over the lesson. These sites combined with Moodle or any other site that your school currently uses will help you work towards creating innovative digitalised lessons.