I joined my first social network about 4 years ago. I created a login added the friend who invited me to Hi5 (I only joined becuase he was in South America) and never logged in again. I thought they were uselss. Being a nature lover who pushed against anything that kept me indoors longer than I already had to be I refused to love social networks and fought against them..."What will our society be like if all our sociality and interaction was online (which I ignorantly thought was happening with the social network craze," I thought. "It'll disconnect us. They are just a waste of time and our lives."
I slowly began to change my thinking as I saw all my friends keeping in touch. Then we did a winter tubing event...we invited over 1500 people in 5 minutes. Lots of old friends came and I loved it. Friends started to sign up to do business networking and I started to see it as a business tool. I still didn't sign up until this assignment came and then I sold out to the social network craze. Within minutes I connected with old friends I had not seen for over 10 years. I am realizing that social networks generally don't help you meet a lot of new people (they could though if that were the goal I guess) but connect with people I already know.
My next step is to find out how these web 2.0 hodge podges can be used for educational purposes and if that is an effective use.
The following links are things I'm checking out. My first intimation that a social network could be used for education came from this link.
"'Social Networks' are really just collections of Web 2.0 technologies combined in a way that help to build online communities."
I can picture an ongoing discussion among learners from different countries as a gynormous tutor session. Informal learning could be huge. The information that one could tap into if they found the right contacts in the social networks could speed up collaborative learning and informal learning. For example, if you learn a lot from having a conversation with 3 people, imagine it being 50 people but you speed up the dialog from what it would be in a live discussion. I think that has power. Anyway, I have not wrapped my head completely around this but will post more on it as I discover more.
I still need to look into how social network applications and data portability could affect education.
I think I will start here: http://socialnetworksined.wikispaces.com/. It is a list of social networks used in education.