Blogs as a Social Networking Tool to Build Community

Blogs as a Social Networking Tool to Build Community

Lisa Kervin (University of Wollongong, Australia), Jessica Mantei (University of Wollongong, Australia) and Anthony Herrington (University of Wollongong, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-208-4.ch017
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Abstract

This chapter examines blogging as a social networking tool to engage final year preservice teachers in reflective processes. Using a developed Web site, the students post their own blogs and comment upon those of others. The authors argue that opportunity to engage with this networking experience provides avenue for the students to consider their emerging professional identity as teachers. The blogging mechanism brought together the physical university context and virtual online environment as students identified, examined and reflected upon the intricacies of what it means to be a teacher. The authors hope that examining the findings that emerged from this research will inform other educators as to the affordances of blogging as a social networking tool.
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Introduction

A recent US survey conducted by Pew Internet and American Life Project found that eight percent of internet users, or about 12 million American adults, keep a blog while thirty-nine percent of internet users, or about 57 million American adults, read blogs (Lenhart & Fox, 2006). This social networking phenomenon is not confined to the pursuit of leisure but is also seen as a strategy for professional learning through shared reflection on theory and practice. The professional identities of teachers and preservice teachers can potentially benefit from this experience.

This chapter explores the use of blogging within the context of a final year university subject for teachers in the Faculty of Education at the University of Wollongong, Australia. Using authentic learning (Herrington & Oliver, 2000) as a theoretical framework, the ‘Beginning and Establishing Successful Teachers’ (BEST) Website was created. Blogging opportunities were incorporated within the Website design to foster and support social networking amongst site users.

The chapter describes how providing students with opportunities to interact within both the physical university and the virtual Website communities led to reflection, networking and identification of professional goals, all of which contributed to their identity as teachers. In particular we examine how blogging as a tool facilitated reflection for shared understandings as individuals moved between two spaces. The virtual community afforded students opportunities for articulation of their own understandings and engagement with the experiences of others. Supporting and enriching this was the physical context, where ‘theory’ and professional relationships were explored through the more structured environment of tutorial workshops. The interaction between the virtual and real contexts, captured through blogging activity, contributed to each individual’s professional identity. This is represented in Figure 1.

Figure 1.

Blogging for professional identity15115

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Teacher As Reflective Practitioner

In describing teaching as a ‘profession of conscience’, where teachers are accountable to themselves, the students and their parents, Maarof (2007) identifies the practice of reflecting on one’s teaching as important in allowing teachers to better understand their philosophy of learning and to identify strengths and limitations of the decisions they make. Teachers who are reflective in their approach to teaching can make meaningful change within their classrooms, schools and broader communities because they use a critical approach to questioning what it is they do in their classrooms, why they have made such decisions and how their practice might be improved (Bintz & Dillard, 2007).

Rather than a simple tool for thinking about teaching, reflection is defined as a complex and rigorous process that takes the practitioner in a ‘forward moving spiral’ linking theory with practice and practice with theory (Rodgers, 2002, p. 863). For teachers to be able to engage with such a cycle, they require sustained opportunities to explore both theory and practice within socially supported communities that deepen not only their professional identity, but also their understanding of the skills required for reflection (McCormack, Gore & Thomas, 2004).

For preservice and early career teachers in particular, opportunities for reflection on their own learning and the ways that they achieve new understanding are valuable in fostering active learners whose interest resides in pursuing ongoing professional growth (Bransford, Derry, Berliner & Hammerness, 2005; McCormack et.al., 2004). The period of transition from preservice to inservice teacher is identified in the literature as a time where support in developing the skills of reflection is crucial for the construction of professional knowledge (Griffin, 2003; Peters & LeCornu, 2006). It is through opportunities to ‘practice and reflect on teaching while enrolled in their preparation programs’ that teachers can develop the necessary reflective tools for interpreting their observations and experiences in the early years of teaching (Hammerness, Darling-Hammond & Bransford, 2005, p. 375) and to build their professional identities.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Networking: The interaction of participants for shared knowledge and understandings.

Professional Identity: One’s conception and perception of themselves as a member of their selected profession.

Reflection: Reflection is complex and rigorous, taking the practitioner through the process of linking theory with practice and practice with theory.

Authentic Learning: Learning that is connected to knowledge that is required within a particular cultural setting.

Virtual Community: Online interactions between participants, in this research this occurred through engagement with the BEST site.

Blog: An online text that captures reflections. It may also contain pictures, hyperlinks and sound.

Physical Community: Actual interactions between participants, in this research this occurred through workshop sessions on the University campus.

Complete Chapter List

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Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
Foreword
Jennifer Preece
Acknowledgment
Stylianos Hatzipanagos, Steven Warburton
Chapter 1
Jon Dron, Terry Anderson
Understanding the affordances, effectiveness and applicability of new media in multiple contexts is usually a slow and evolving process with many... Sample PDF
How the Crowd Can Teach
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Chapter 2
Chris Abbott, William Alder
Although social networking has been enthusiastically embraced by large numbers of children and young people, their schools and colleges have been... Sample PDF
Social Networking and Schools: Early Responses and Implications for Practice
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Chapter 3
Eleni Berki, Mikko Jäkälä
Information and communication technology gradually transform virtual communities to active meeting places for sharing information and for supporting... Sample PDF
Cyber-Identities and Social Life in Cyberspace
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Chapter 4
Werner Beuschel
Weblogs are a popular form of Social Software, supporting personal Web authoring as well as innovative forms of social interaction via internet. The... Sample PDF
Weblogs in Higher Education
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Chapter 5
Mark Bilandzic, Marcus Foth
Web services such as wikis, blogs, podcasting, file sharing and social networking are frequently referred to by the term Web 2.0. The innovation of... Sample PDF
Social Navigation and Local Folksonomies: Technical and Design Considerations for a Mobile Information System
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Chapter 6
Rakesh Biswas, Carmel M. Martin, Joachim Sturmberg, Kamalika Mukherji, Edwin Wen Huo Lee, Shashikiran Umakanth
The chapter starts from the premise that illness and healthcare are predominantly social phenomena that shape the perspectives of key stakeholders... Sample PDF
Social Cognitive Ontology and User Driven Healthcare
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Chapter 7
Jillianne R. Code, Nicholas E. Zaparyniuk
Central to research in social psychology is the means in which communities form, attract new members, and develop over time. Research has found that... Sample PDF
Social Identities, Group Formation, and the Analysis of Online Communities
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Chapter 8
Jillianne R. Code, Nicholas E. Zaparyniuk
Social and group interactions in online and virtual communities develop and evolve from expressions of human agency. The exploration of the... Sample PDF
The Emergence of Agency in Online Social Networks
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Chapter 9
A. Malizia, A. De Angeli, S. Levialdi, I. Aedo Cuevas
The User Experience (UX) is a crucial factor for designing and enhancing the user satisfaction when interacting with a computational tool or with a... Sample PDF
Exploiting Collaborative Tagging Systems to Unveil the User-Experience of Web Contents: An Operative Proposal
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Chapter 10
Utpal M. Dholakia, Richard Baraniuk
Open Education Programs provide a range of digitized educational resources freely to educators, students, and self-learners to use and reuse for... Sample PDF
The Roles of Social Networks and Communities in Open Education Programs
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Chapter 11
Sebastian Fiedler, Kai Pata
This chapter discusses how the construction of an adequate design and intervention framework for distributed learning environments might be... Sample PDF
Distributed Learning Environments and Social Software: In Search for a Framework of Design
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Chapter 12
Yoni Ryan, Robert Fitzgerald
This chapter considers the potential of social software to support learning in higher education. It outlines a current project funded by the then... Sample PDF
Exploring the Role of Social Software in Higher Education
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Chapter 13
Kathryn Gow
This chapter focuses on the identification of a range of competencies that entry level workers, and thus graduating students, will need to acquire... Sample PDF
Identifying New Virtual Competencies for the Digital Age: Essential Tools for Entry Level Workers
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Chapter 14
Jerald Hughes, Scott Robinson
This chapter examines interaction-oriented virtual religious communities online in the light of sociological theory of religious communities. The... Sample PDF
Social Structures of Online Religious Communities
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Chapter 15
Helen Keegan, Bernard Lisewski
This chapter explores emergent behaviours in the use of social software across multiple online communities of practice where informal learning... Sample PDF
Living, Working, Teaching and Learning by Social Software
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Chapter 16
Lucinda Kerawalla, Shailey Minocha, Gill Kirkup, Gráinne Conole
With a variety of asynchronous communication and collaboration tools and environments such as Wikis, blogs, and forums, it can be increasingly... Sample PDF
Supporting Student Blogging in Higher Education
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Chapter 17
Lisa Kervin, Jessica Mantei, Anthony Herrington
This chapter examines blogging as a social networking tool to engage final year preservice teachers in reflective processes. Using a developed Web... Sample PDF
Blogs as a Social Networking Tool to Build Community
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Chapter 18
Jennifer Ann Linder-VanBerschot
The objective of this chapter is to introduce a model that outlines the evolution of knowledge and sustainable innovation of community through the... Sample PDF
A Model for Knowledge and Innovation in Online Education
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Chapter 19
Petros Lameras, Iraklis Paraskakis, Philipa Levy
This chapter focuses on discussing the use of social software from a social constructivist perspective. In particular, the chapter explains how... Sample PDF
Using Social Software for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education
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Chapter 20
Dimitris Bibikas, Iraklis Paraskakis, Alexandros G. Psychogios, Ana C. Vasconcelos
The aim of this chapter is to investigate the potential role of social software inside business settings in integrating knowledge exploitation and... Sample PDF
The Potential of Enterprise Social Software in Integrating Exploitative and Explorative Knowledge Strategies
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Chapter 21
M. C. Pettenati, M. E. Cigognini, E. M.C. Guerin, G. R. Mangione
In this chapter the authors identify the Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) pre-dispositions, skills and competences of the current effective... Sample PDF
Personal Knowledge Management Skills for Lifelong-Learners 2.0
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Chapter 22
Sharon Markless, David Streatfield
This chapter questions whether the shift from the Web as a vehicle for storing and transmitting information to the new Web as a series of social... Sample PDF
Reconceptualising Information Literacy for the Web 2.0 Environment?
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Chapter 23
Catherine McLoughlin, Mark J.W. Lee
Learning management systems (LMS’s) that cater for geographically dispersed learners have been widely available for a number of years, but many... Sample PDF
Pedagogical Responses to Social Software in Universities
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Chapter 24
Alexandra Okada, Simon Buckingham Shum, Michelle Bachler, Eleftheria Tomadaki, Peter Scott, Alex Little, Marc Eisenstadt
The aim of this chapter is to overview the ways in which knowledge media technologies create opportunities for social learning. The Open Content... Sample PDF
Knowledge Media Tools to Foster Social Learning
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Chapter 25
Luc Pauwels, Patricia Hellriegel
This chapter looks into YouTube as one of the most popular Social Software platforms, challenging the dominant discourse with its focus on community... Sample PDF
A Critical Cultural Reading of "YouTube"
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Chapter 26
Ismael Peña-López
The author of this chapter proposes the concept of the Personal Research Portal (PRP) – a mesh of social software applications to manage knowledge... Sample PDF
The Personal Research Portal
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Chapter 27
Andrew Ravenscroft, Musbah Sagar, Enzian Baur, Peter Oriogun
This chapter will present a new approach to designing learning interactions and experiences that reconciles relatively stable learning processes... Sample PDF
Ambient Pedagogies, Meaningful Learning and Social Software
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Chapter 28
V. Sachdev, S. Nerur, J. T.C. Teng
With the trend towards social interaction over the Internet and the mushrooming of Web sites such as MySpace, Facebook and YouTube in the social... Sample PDF
Interactivity Redefined for the Social Web
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Chapter 29
Sue Thomas, Chris Joseph, Jess Laccetti, Bruce Mason, Simon Perril, Kate Pullinger
Transliteracy might provide a unifying perspective on what it means to be literate in the 21st Century. It is not a new behaviour but has been... Sample PDF
Transliteracy as a Unifying Perspective
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Chapter 30
Martin Weller, James Dalziel
This chapter looks at some of the areas of tension between the new social networking, Web 2.0 communities and the values of higher education. It... Sample PDF
Bridging the Gap Between Web 2.0 and Higher Education
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Chapter 31
Steve Wheeler
The use of group oriented software, or groupware, encourages students to generate their own content (McGill et al, 2005) and can foster supportive... Sample PDF
Destructive Creativity on the Social Web: Learning through Wikis in Higher Education
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Chapter 32
Scott Wilson
This chapter describes the mechanisms of presence in social networks and presents an ontology that frames the purpose, content, methods of... Sample PDF
Presence in Social Networks
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