Teaching social software

I’m often asked for examples of people who are teaching with and about the use of social software, and to be frank, I haven’t found many useful ones. But this morning in my search for other material I came across this report titled Teachning Social Software with Social Software by Ulises Mejias, an Ed.D. student at the Communication, Computing and Technology in Education program at Teachers College, Columbia University, where he is also teaching a graduate course on Social Software.

In this report he discusses some of the lessons learned teaching this course which he calls “Social Software Affordances”. The course was offered during the Fall of 2005, and involved 13 graduate students from the Communication, Computing and Technology in Education (CCTE) program at TC.

The main goal of the course was for students to acquire proficiency in the use of blogs, wikis, RSS feeds and distributed classification systems while engaging in a critical analysis of the affordances of social software (what the software makes possible and what it impedes). The class also asked students to apply their newly acquired social software skills and knowledge to promote a social cause or project of their choosing.

Together, the class addressed questions such as: What is ‘social’ about social software? How is the notion of community being redefined by social software? How is social agency shared between humans and code in social software? What are the social repercussions of unequal access to social software? Additionally, each student undertook a project which tackled the question of whether social software can be an effective tool for individual and social change.

The course itself was run using a variety of social software – including blogs, wikis and other web-based applications such as del.icio.us etc. The report well worth a read, not only of the report itself, but of the associated (linked) articles and websites – including the course blogs that were maintained by the students.

I was particularly drawn to the author’s personal belief statement which obviously underpinned the design of the course itself. He argues that…

    … the true potential of social software lies in helping us figure out how to integrate our online and offline social experiences. Thus, social software must live up to its name by relating to the individual??s everyday social practices, and inculcate a desire to connect to the world as a whole, not just the parts that exist online. Furthermore, in order for software to be truly ‘social,’ it must help develop in the minority who has access to the technology a responsibility for converting its benefits into benefits for a larger part of society.

5 thoughts on “Teaching social software

  1. I believe social software will develop around the needs of the individual. As an older person I have been really interested in blogs etc and have been involved especially in derek’s Blog but have struggled to see a use of a blog for myself. I don’t wish to create one for the sake of creating one it needs for me to have a purpose. This where the need for mentors and the social structure of mentors needs to be looked at mre in depth. I belive that the potential in people needs to be unlocked and this can be done with life long learning ad the smart use and development of the mentor role in education and also the work force. At the moment it seems to me to be a hit and miss affair. Hope this makes sense and look forward to comments from others?

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