Designing a social networking framework for a learning institution requires some thought into the merits of the service and a suitable integration process. As regards our particular case, where we wish to harness the power of social networking for the benefit of the university community, a number of considerations must be taken into account. In this proposal, I evaluate the value of social networking services (SNS) and proceed to explore the product development cycle as a suitable approach for introducing social media services.
We will write a custom Proposal on Social Networking Services and Product Development specifically for you
301 certified writers online
The importance of social networking services to young people is quite evident, with communication and sharing of content being the major uses of these services. The use of Facebook and other localized social media around the world has been rising since their invention. Facebook, for instance, has over one billion users worldwide. What are the opportunities presented by such high usage of social networking services by young people to your institution? There is no doubt that the communicative potential presented by social media can be harnessed in powerful ways by learning institutions, thereby reaping certain benefits.
First, social networking services (SNS) can be used to leverage and complement formal education activities and enhance learning. Particularly, SNS can be incorporated into e-learning frameworks (Collin, Rahilly, Richardson, & Third, 2011). Specifically, it can be used to overcome spatial limitations on access to learning materials traditionally housed in one location.
Secondly, the use of SNS can also significantly improve the engagement between teachers and students. Studies conducted by Huffstutler, Wyatt & Wright (as cited in Collin et al., 2011) indicate that social networking services enhance/create relationships. Web 2.0, for instance, may help support peer-based learning. For students especially, Ito et al. (as cited in Collin et al., 2011) note that it also presents the opportunity for interaction, which is a valued feature among young people who like to direct their own learning and also evaluate knowledge.
Perhaps the most important element of SNS is that they can be used to extend learning outside the classroom (Collin et al., 2011). Huffstutler et al. (as cited in Collin et al., 2011) also contend that ‘regular accessibility means young people can access resources in a way that is both convenient and relevant to them…’
Thirdly, SNS can promote informal knowledge and skills extension through the development of peer-to-peer learning, cultural expression and sharing, and a ‘more empowered conception of citizenship.’ It has also been noted that for students who have problems with the traditional brick-and-motor formal learning setting, SNS provides an avenue for access to knowledge in a more suitable format and therefore aids learning. The production and exchange of creative content, for instance, the circulation of a fraternity newsletter or school magazine, has the potential of promoting interpersonal relationships and strengthening communities (Collin et al., 2011).
However, SNS presents a number of challenges. Especially where two social networking services are to be introduced, the risk of harm resulting from mismanagement of personal information is a significant threat. Young people do not normally appreciate the public nature of the internet; the medium through with social networking operates (Collin et al., 2011). Considerations must also be made about the potential of copyright infringements.
In addition to this, SNS is thought to hamper the development of relationships traditionally thought to be the props of communities (Collin et al., 2011). ‘Cyber citizenship’ also creates the potential for ‘cyber-bullying’ (Collin et al., 2011). Predation is also more subtle and, therefore, harder to control. However, it has been pointed out that ‘online risks are not radically different in nature or scope than the risks minors have long faced offline’ (Collin et al., 2011).
Evidently, the university stands to gain significantly from the integration of SNS into their current learning forums and social platforms. A bi-pronged approach may indeed help tap into the advantages of e-learning integrated social media and another more informal and interactive networking platform. How, therefore, can SNS be rolled out in the University?
A possible approach is the use of the product development cycle approach. Basically, it is a phased conversion of an idea to something tangible (Clinivation, n.d, pg. 4). Product development has five phases: concept, feasibility, planning, development, and production. At the concept phase, the idea to develop the SNS should be fully articulated and assumptions identified (Clinivation, n.d, pg. 7). All the features of the two SNS platforms should be contemplated at this stage.
The feasibility phase is where the SNS platforms are investigated in terms of technological possibility (Clinivation, n.d, pg. 8). The possible advantages, as well as technical and financial feasibilities, are queried at this stage. At the planning phase, a detailed development strategy is produced with the goals of the SNS in view (Clinivation, n.d, pg. 10). It should contain the schedule and business case for developing the two platforms. Once this is achieved, the development stage kicks in with a pilot SNS within the university. The two SNS platforms are reviewed for possible improvement and ascertaining their correspondence with the concept plan. Once a software prototype has been produced and approved by the university, then a full roll-out of the social media in the university may commence.
Once integrated into the systems of the university, a follow up should be carried out, debugging and troubleshooting as the need arises.
Clinivation (n.d). Product Life Cycle. Web.
Collin, P., Rahilly, K., Richardson, I. & Third, A. (2011). The Benefits of Social Networking Services: A literature review. Cooperative Research Centre for Young People, Technology and Wellbeing. Web.