Anti-Social Media ???

Are Open source tools and social media in the same category? 

Yes they are – Open Source tools and Social media are not two separate categories. The LMS and social media tools are all built on OpenSource architecture. It almost become a mute point. A metaphor might be found in the world of computing. Do you actually care as an end user what kind of processor is in your computer? It is the experience of the operating system and user interface, The fact that these tools and platforms have been built on an open source platform, becomes true but not important to the end user. The end user just wants to use the tool effectively. If you are a developer, then the entire story changes. As a developer you want to use the API (application programming interface) made available in the open source platform to customize, repurpose and enhance according to your particular needs. Open source no longer means it is free. All of the items that are referenced below are actually open source tools and open source social media. Each and everyone of them are defined within the OpenSource initiative. BlackBoard, Moodle and Canvas are all designed under the Open Source initiative architecture.

Do you believe that social media should be used in teaching and learning?
Social media can be used constructively with teaching and learning. When you start to decompose each learning theory and start to look at the fundamental elements of how they are deployed into a learning environment some of the core elements will be identified. Communication and collaboration are two elements that can be used to connect people and their ideas. These social media elements are no different than any other technology. In order for them to be used appropriately, there has to be some common ground rules established and the necessary infrastructure needs to be in place. Just like  the adoption of the CD-ROM, digital video and the Internet, these modern open source tools will be incorporated into many learning environments. Today over 50% of all Internet traffic takes place with mobile devices.
Do you believe that open source tools should be used for teaching and learning? 
Yes, there is no reason why open source tools should not be used. The same theme mentioned above with social media tools holds true. Tools are used because they are effective and help to create value. Every modern LMS today is built on an open source platform. This feature alone somewhat ensures that it is future-proof and that the enhancements will be forthcoming and innovation will transform into new features. These tools are all feature rich and we are just learning to take advantage of some of the built in capabilities. How many users take full advantage of Microsoft Office products. Most of us use just a small percentage of the features. The same holds true for the new social media tools, but as a platform they provide a path for growth.


The experience of using both social media and open source tools is not newly found. I do not want to generalize all social media as the same, but for the purpose of this story I will group Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and LinkedIn as “social media”. When using these social media tools and other open source tools, no one thinks of them as being open source unless you are trying to leverage and build upon or repurpose the code. The fact that they are open source is true, but not important to most.

There are actually hundreds of social media programs that uniquely define points of interest with many varied user groups. I consider each of these social media resources as very personal and highly controlled elements of my life. The rank ordering for me is LinkedIn, Facebook, Google Plus and Twitter. I am sure that if a popularity survey were performed with a large USA audience, it would show different results. I use LinkedIn on a daily basis. When I am looking to find a business connection, it proves to be a good resource. If you are looking to hire someone or to be hired, it is the one of the best shopping resources for talent. I limit my Facebook activity to a very limited and special audience. I do not want to provide Facebook invites to my business network. I limit my Facebook friends to those that I want to maintain a close and private relationship. Different people have different usage styles on Facebook. Some wish to share all elements of their life with every minute detail. I quickly learned how to delete those individuals from my network.

From all of the social media products, I learned a lot about the privacy policy and the data that they keep on you. It is a big trade off and makes you wonder if you really want to surrender all of the details that you personally generate, but also all of the details that others want to generate about you too. Most people to not realize that Facebook receives data about you whenever you use or even enable Facebook on your computer or mobile device. There is a record kept of your location when using Facebook on a mobile device. This means every time you send or receive a message, search for a friend or a page, click on or view any object or link. So keep in mind that you think you are having fun with a great tool but a detailed profile is being built that will be used in some form or fashion to market to you. So when you see an ad pop up on your browser and you say to yourself – “that is interesting – I was just thinking about looking in to getting one of those” it is not by chance that this happened. So a great lessoned learned is to fully understand how much data is being managed from your account. Maybe this data is kept private and maybe it is accessed by the government, (NSA ) for various reasons.

When you sign up for most social media, you click yes to a complicated usage agreement and most subscribers do not ask at that time how to deactivate or delete an account. I learned that it takes about 90 days to delete your account and you can also just deactivate your account for a period of time and none of your data is lost. If you are thinking about dying anytime soon, you need to have a delegate take over your account or you will be eternally receiving messages.

When asking the question if social media should be used for teaching and learning, the answer will be the same for any component that is used for teaching and learning. The best answer is that you should use the right tool for the right job with the right audience. Start with your epistemology and pedagogy and create your learning environment with the appropriate instructional design. Many years ago when the CD-ROM and Internet were being evaluated for teaching and learning purposes the same questions was asked. Even though the technology was capable of being used appropriately, not everyone had access to the Internet with the same level of performance and not all computers had CD-ROM. The same might be said for today regarding the usage of some of these social media programs. I do not want my school lessons integrated with my Facebook. I think Twitter is an awesome marketing and communication tool that is faster than the speed of light, however I have not yet seen any educational value with Twitter. Maybe if it were integrated with an open source LMS like Moodle or Canvas or BlackBoard, there could be some learning and teaching value created. The open source technology that is incorporated in the LMS environment is brilliantly deployed. Instead of everyone competing on features, they commit to the open source principles and allow many people to innovate and add functionality and reliability into their products. You do not have to be a C# coding expert to take advantage of the open source features of the LMS. This approach to designing new learning systems is the future. There are a dozen open source LMS on the market that have no licensing fee. However, there is a cost to deploy and support the LMS so that needs to be part of the decision process when you start to evaluate the use in an educational environment. If you have a thousand people that are familiar with Moodle and you need support from within your educational community and teaching group and you have 5 people that are familiar with Canvas, then the odds are your support decision will be biased towards Moodle, unless the level of support required by Canvas is much less. The cost of support is certainly offset by the lack of license fees.

Keep in mind Moore’s Law that technology doubles in performance every 18 months. The entire social media environment will change with the “Internet of Everything”

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