What is Social Media?


No longer satisfied to be consumers of content, today’s audience creates content as well, and is uploading photographs, audio, and video to the cloud by the billions. Producing, commenting, and classifying these media have become just as important as the more passive tasks of searching, reading, watching, and listening. Sites like Flickr, Odeo, YouTube, Google Video, and Ourmedia make it easy to find images, videos, and audio clips, but the real value of these sites lies in the way that users can classify, evaluate, comment upon, and add to the content that is there. Using simple interfaces, visitors can build shared collections of resources, whether they be links, photos, videos, documents, or almost any other kind of media. They can find and comment on items in other people’s lists, sharing not only the resources themselves but information and descriptive details about them.

As a result, over the past few years, the ways we produce, use and even think about our media have undergone a profound transformation. Literally billions of videos, podcasts, and other forms of social media are just a click away for any Internet-connected user. As the numbers and quality of user-produced clips have increased, our notions of what constitutes useful or engaging media have been redefined — and more and more, it is a two- to three-minute piece designed for viewing inside a browser or on a mobile phone. That same phone is often the device used to create the media in the first place, with surprisingly high quality when viewed on a small screen. Tools for assembling and editing clips are free or extremely low cost and make it easy for amateurs to get good results without investing in expensive equipment, software, or training.

INSTRUCTIONS: Enter your responses to the questions below. This is most easily done by moving your cursor to the end of the last item and pressing RETURN to create a new bullet point. Please include URLs whenever you can (full URLs will automatically be turned into hyperlinks; please type them out rather than using the linking tools in the toolbar).

Please "sign" your contributions by marking with the code of 4 tildes (~) in a row so that we can follow up with you if we need additional information or leads to examples- this produces a signature when the page is updated, like this: - alan alan Jan 27, 2010

(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • Support for self-directed learning where students (and educators) can record, share, and comment on learning points wherever these occur - kelly.smith kelly.smith May 15, 2011
  • Source of learning materials - kelly.smith kelly.smith May 15, 2011
  • One of the central components of most students' personal web tool sets, social media will be developed further as tools for creation, organisation and sharing of content. [[user:@steve.wheeler]]

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • Quality of product - kelly.smith kelly.smith May 15, 2011
  • Ability to find good examples amongst potentially huge pool; how to tag self-produced material so can share with others (and remember where you put it!) - kelly.smith kelly.smith May 15, 2011
  • An increase in specialised adaptations of major sharing sites/services e.g. TeacherTube in order to reduce noise and provide a more focused search for users? - helen.keegan helen.keegan May 19, 2011
  • Tagging for organistion of content. - steve.wheeler steve.wheeler
  • Confusion of product. Which one to use. Results in "islands" of collaboration, not collaborating with each other. Need to see the growth of mediators that link the various "communities" together. - david.harrison david.harrison May 18, 2011
  • Confusion of definition. How does social media differ from social networking? Isn't the latter a subset of the former? - david.harrison david.harrison May 18, 2011

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, research or information management within the next five years?

  • Relation to plagiarism - sharing or co-producing of materials can blur claiming and referencing ownership - kelly.smith kelly.smith May 15, 2011
  • We are currently engaged in the EU funded CONCEDE Project which is categorising User Generated Content and through dialogue with teachers in HE across Europe, identifying elemenst of quality for all UGC. - steve.wheeler steve.wheeler

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

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