Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Social Networks: A New Tool For Learning

February 17, 2009 / A New Tool For Students: Educational Networking / GUNNAR OLSON / golson@dmreg.com

Ames, Ia. - Iowa State University sophomore Lauren Egerton can compare notes with fellow education majors or study their flashcards with a few clicks on her computer.She simply goes online to a social networking site geared toward studying, such as StudyBlue or Flashcard Exchange."It's at your convenience. It's on your own time. You don't have to coordinate with anyone else's schedules," said Egerton, 19, of Iowa City. "It's just a smarter way to study."

About Study Sites
Online social networking, made popular across the country and around the globe in recent years by sites such as MySpace and Facebook, is no longer the exclusive territory of teenage romances and family pictures.

"You name it, and it seems as though a niche network has been created, and if it hasn't, it will be in the very near future," said Gerry McKiernan, an ISU librarian who blogs and lectures nationally on the subject.

Educational networking sites are relatively new. There are multiple competitors, and they have their critics. But supporters think the sites are changing higher education.

McKiernan called use of the sites a shift away from the "sage on the stage." "The students themselves are creating a learning community," he said. "In a very real sense, I believe they're reinventing the educational process."More students and faculty in Iowa are using such sites. For example, today there are about 40,000 members of ISU's Facebook group, nearly double the 22,000 members three years ago.

And more of them are using such sites as tools for learning, as evidenced by the recent success of StudyBlue.com.


Thanks to angel investors, it is now a growing, for-profit company that gets high school and college students to share notes and flashcards for free while targeting them with ads for online universities and textbooks.

"We really built our tool from the bottom up, with the idea of students growing the tool," company spokesman Ben Jedd said.He said about 5,000 students at Iowa universities use the site. Students at the University of Iowa, one of the company's test locations, are among the site's top 10 users. At Iowa State, the number of users doubled last semester to about 1,000, he said.
There are some troubles.Last year at Ryerson University in Canada, a student was nearly expelled after a professor discovered his online study group and accused him of cheating, according to news articles. StudyBlue said that California bans the dissemination of notes without the lecturer's permission. [snip]

ISU Associate Dean of Students Mary Jo Gonzales said she would not want to see face-to-face classroom time displaced. "We can't rely solely on technology," she said. But she said educational networking sites are a valuable tool for educators, and particularly for quieter students who might express their ideas and engage other students more freely online than in class.

Michael Bugeja, director of ISU's journalism school, said he isn't against social networking sites altogether. He runs one himself. But he warned students to see the for-profit sites for what they are: convenience sleekly bundled with distraction. For serious study, he said, students are better off meeting face to face.

"If you're going to commit to walking to a library or a room, you are going to be focused ever so much more on the task at hand," Bugeja said.

Egerton and her friend, Emily Smart, said students do use such sites to converse


"If I didn't get it the first time, chances are I didn't get it right in my notes," said Smart, 19, of Cedar Rapids.

STUDYBLUE: Allows students to connect with classmates, compare notes, use one another's digital flashcards and more. It was created in 2006.

FLASHCARD EXCHANGE: Enables students to create their own digital flashcards and share them with the online world. It was founded in 2001.

Full Text Available [03-02-10] At

Saturday, February 14, 2009

ISU Library Spring Seminar: Not Just Facebook: Niche Social Network Sites

Friends/ Later this month. I will give the first presentation in our Spring Library Seminar series here at Iowa State University:

Not Just Facebook: Niche Social Network Sites

Gerry McKiernan, Associate Professor, Science & Technology Department, ISU Library

Wednesday, February 25, 3:15-4:30, Parks Library 192

"While Facebook and MySpace are among the better-known general online social networks, there are an ever-increasing number of online networks that have emerged for and within a wide variety of groups. Among many others, these include networks for academe and education, people of color, boomers, businesses, LGBT groups, religious communities, and researchers and scholars. This presentation offers an overview of these on other niche online networks and examines the potential benefit they may offer to colleges and universities and their communities."


In addition to the communities noted above, I am also greatly interested in learning of other communities (with a social network presence) that are or could be of particular interest to colleges or universities (e.g. alumni), along with specific examples, if possible.

I am also interested in learning of specific niche communities that you find of significant professional value.

Please post the names/sites of these Niche Communities and the particular professional benefits that you have gained (or believe can be gained) from membership in Any and All niche social networks as a Comment on this posting.

BTW: This presentation will be an abridged and modified version of my Internet Librarian 2008 pre-conference workshop presentation Not Just Facebook: Online Social Networks For Libraries .


Not Just Facebook: Niche Social Network Sites

Part 1:
Introduction [9:08]
Part 2:
Web 2.0: Social Networking Services [6:19]
Part 3:
Facebook [4:49]
Part 4:
Niche Online Social Networks [26:36]
Part 5:
NING [12:47]
Part 6:
Potential Benefits [9:17]
Part 7:
Demonstration of NING [12:01]



Sunday, February 1, 2009

Connections: Online Social Networks for Business

Online Social Networks for Business

Gerry McKiernan / Iowa State University Library / Ames IA USA

CALSI 2009

La Sociedad del Conocimiento: Innovación y Nuevos Retos Globales

[The Knowledge Society: New Challenges and Global Innovation]

While Facebook and MySpace are among the better-known general online social networks, there are an ever-increasing number of online networks that have emerged for and within a wide variety of communities. Among many others, these include networks for academe and education (e.g., EduSpaces), people of color (e.g., Black Planet), Boomers (e.g., Boomj), LGBT groups (e.g., GLEE), religion (e.g., MyChurch), and researchers and scholars (e.g., Nature Network). Among the fastest growing niche networks are those created by and on behalf of businesses (e.g., LinkedIn).

This presentation will provide an overview of the variety of niche online networks, with a focus on those created to better connect and engage customers, employees, and professionals.

Please Post Any And All Suggestions As A Comment On This Entry

BTW: I am aware of the major business sites listed in Wikipedia


The PowerPoint Slides For This Presentation Are Now Available At


(03-24-09 / 135 slides)

I Wish To Thank:

Nuria Lloret Romero

(Universidad Politécnica de Valencia)

Candela Gimeno Estornel
(Universidad Politécnica de Valencia)

Tomàs Baiget

(Institut d'Estadística de Catalunya (Idescat))

for making my visit and participation possible.