DML: Social Networks as Educational Spaces: Exploring Youth Opportunities for Connected Learning

In what ways are social networks being used to facilitate and support connected learning? This panel presentation explores this question by highlighting the educational benefits and challenges of four different networked spaces across local and global contexts and formal and informal learning environments. Panelists will draw on their backgrounds in computer science, communication, literacy studies, and science education as they lead an interactive discussion about the expanded potential for learning afforded by new forms of communication within social networks. In particular, they will discuss how social networks offer new opportunities to expand the structural, curricular, and geographical boundaries of school-based practices and promote connected learning, and provide young people increased autonomy and agency in creating knowledge and authoring new texts with others.

Each presenter will spend 15 minutes sharing the challenges of designing networks and the potential of social networks as new communicative contexts that support connected learning. The four networks are focused on issues such as (1) new media authoring and intercultural communication, (2) climate change science, (3) media sharing and discussion, and (4) transmedia play and storytelling. Amy Stornaiuolo will discuss the ways in which 194 adolescents around the world authored multimodal compositions on a learning-focused social network over three years. Jessica K. Parker and Diana Arya will detail an eight-week science program in which 141 high school students from the United States, China, New Zealand, and Norway engaged in a social network about climate change. Nichole Pinkard will describe a common core aligned 6th grade writing curriculum design to develop students’ abilities to communicate narrative, informational and argumentative stories across multiple modes of communication (textual, visual, aural, oral, and cinematic). And Erin Reilly will discuss the PLAYground social network, a site for young people to better understand transmedia forms and new cultural practices.

Overall, the panel will serve several related purposes: (1) to introduce colleagues to several examples of social networks in education; (2) to demonstrate diverse applications of SNS in local and global educational settings; (3) to raise questions for future inquiry on digitally mediated teaching and learning; and (4) in a broad sense to generate discussion about configured spaces and connected learning.

Our discussant, Robin Mencher, the Director of Education and Media Learning at KQED, will summarize the findings from the four panelists and then pull questions and issues from the backchannel to help further discussion. She will also open the floor to the audience and help to moderate the conversation.

Jessica Parker
Jessica Parker
Diana Arya
Amy Stornaiuolo
Nichole Pinkard
Denise Nacu
Erin Reilly
Discussant: Robin Mencher