Social Networking Sites in education

Plamen Miltenoff (St. Cloud State University)
Galin Tzokov (Plovdiv University)
Gary Schnellert (University of North Dakota)
John Hoover (St. Cloud State University)

Abstract: A discussion on the advantages and disadvantages of employing social networking sites, in particular Facebook for educational purposes was organized by four faculty members from three different educational institutions in two countries, the USA and Bulgaria. The faculty organized an extensive bibliographic overview of published research from around the world regarding the application of social networking sites (SNS) in education.  The findings were organized into topics and issues regarding the application of social networking in education. The bibliographic review of publications reveals strong interest by all stakeholders: administrators, instructors, students, and librarians in determining if SNS, Facebook in particular, can improve recruitment and retention for education and the learning process for both K-12 and higher education. Parallels with Course Management Systems such as Blackboard, Moodle, Sakai and with other Web 2.0 tools are involved in the discussion. Suggestions for future research, based on the conclusions are shared. Other noticeable findings, such as difficulty of finding similar research on other languages, then English, are reflected in the article.

Social Networking Sites and their potential in education: A Bibliographic Overview Educational technology in the new Millennium is moving in accelerating pace. The lightning recognition and adoption of Web 2.0 and its applications, including Social Networking Sites (SNS) is leaving strong imprint on how education is conducted. Educational leaders, faculty, and students from higher education and P-12 (pre-school to 12th grade) display similar interest in the adoption of SNS as potential teaching/learning tool. However, the same administrators and significant number of educators are often hesitant to encourage the use of Facebook, mainly because of privacy issues.

We adopt the generic term social networking sites (SNS) in reference to Facebook and similar applications, (Boyd & Ellison, 2007); Hargittai et al., 2010).  We also employ the term social networking sites as synonymous with social media. Social Networking Sites are generally classified as Web 2.0 technology.

Review of the literature revealed a dominance of publications in English language publications. While the rest of the world is also pursuing SNS research, non-English language publications are difficult to find. This is in contrast with the direction established in the New Europe 2020 documents, which sets education as a priority. However, the New Europe 2020 documents seek education, which aims fostering national strengths. Essentially this means that each European nation will establish SNS research in their own language. Which will expand the research in the near future. (European Council – Conclusions, 2011).

This bibliographic review and the consequent research conducted at educational institutions in the United States and Bulgaria explores the opportunity to apply SNS as teaching/learning tools. The application of tools with universal interface, such as, e.g. Facebook may offer a possibility of bringing educators and students from different countries closer together.

The bibliographic overview was based on searches in the following databases: Academic Search Premier and Science Direct in the U.S. and SciVerse in Bulgaria. Sources such as the Techblog of the Chronicle of Higher Education, the Distance Education listserv (DEOS), and the listserv of the Library and Information Technology Association (LITA) were followed for years and information regarding SNS was organized accordingly. In addition, an Internet search was conducted to survey information in English, German, Russian and Bulgarian. Periodical and popular literature from last several years were tracked for information concerning the use of Web 2.0 tools, SNS and Facebook in particular. The bulk of the literature reviewed for this article is peer-reviewed material and to a great degree quantitative in nature. It is worthy to note that the American School Board Journal as very active in promoting the idea of SNS in education.

In the span of about six years, Facebook exploded in popularity, its rapid adoption rivaling in scope only the advent of the Internet itself. Facebook now boasts a feature movie about its creators.   News about Facebook and SNS appears daily in the popular media. Facebook and its services stretch across borders and continents and are subscribed by both males and females of all ages. Facebook has been identified as the largest factor contributing to the riots in Asia. The rapid increase of SNS is clearly presented in graph by the Pew Internet survey: In April 2009, 46% of online American adults, age 18 and older, use SNS such as Facebook, MySpace, LindedIn and similar. This increase is in stark contrast to the 8% from February 2005. ( Data from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia show a comparable rapid increase of Internet tools among the youngest adult generation, identified in the literature as “digital natives” (Prensky; Bennett et al, 2008) and Millennials (Hansford and Adlington, 2009; Howe and Strauss, 2007). During its short history, Facebook has survived competition from other SNS applications such as Bebo (United Kingdom), Orkut (Brazil and India) and Hi5 (Eastern Europe and Asia). In addition, the allegiance to the collegiate constituency of Facebook was challenged by applications such as Wirehog (Move Over, Facebook–Here Comes Wirehog, 2005) and  CollegeOnly (Li, 2010).

The popularity of Facebook among young people led to attempts for adaptation of Facebook for educational purposes. Johnson (2010) advised that the use of social networking tools in education should acquire a specific term and proposed “educational networking” instead of “social networking.” Renaming SNS applications is only one indication that there is a need for structured assessment of Facebook and SNS as a potential educational tool.

Livingston and Brake (2010 focused on the the fast pace of Facebook’s social penetration and acceptance. The authors argued that the discussion of SNSs effects should be couched in empirical research.  Coherent public policy and comprehensive education will likely minimize shortcoming and foster advantages. Similarly, Galagan (2010) shares a teacher’s testimony focusing on the challenges of the Web 2.0 invasion and way to resolve them. Distance educators, naturally, are in the forefront of embracing Facebook as a Web 2.0 tools (Getting Faculty Ready for Web 2.0, 2008), though little data are cited to either support or the denigration of SNSs.

A bibliographic overview reveals another visible trend; the dominance of English language publications. Most of the literature reviewed in this article originates from North America, Western Europe, and Australia. Isolated publications in English encompass Thailand (Couros, 2008), Hong Kong (Cheung et al, 2010), China (Yan Yu et al 2010),  Malysia (Kabilan et al, 2010), and Cyprus (Huseyin and Cavus, 2010). Our attempts to retrieve Eastern European literature proved futile; perhaps, it could be argued, the lack of resources from Eastern Europe suggests the existence of a digital divide. It will be informative for observers to track SNS events from emerging nations in Asia and the Far East.

Most available literature deals with specific issues, concerning SNS and practical solutions for the use of SNS in education. These specific issues will be shared later in this document. However, it is worth initiating the review with the few articles on the educational implications of SNS (e.g., Hargittai, Maranto & Barton, 2010).  Other researchers identify SNS as an example of so-called multiliteracies (Williams, 2008). Boyd and Ellison (2007) offer the first comprehensive study of social network sites. Australian scholars reveal a blueprint for the assessment, measurement and application of Facebook in education. Facebook’s application is studied in the context of first-year college students. Thus, it is different from the usual research on the use of Facebook among experienced students as part of the technology application in education (Brownlee et al, 2009).

Another Australian team rightfully draws attention to an existing digital divide among Millennials themselves (Hansford & Adlington, 2009). Digital natives, as dubbed by Mark Prensky, are not a homogeneous group; Vaidhyanathan (2008) and Hargittai (2010) explain that it might be counterproductive to assume that so-called digital natives are equally versed in technology. In assessing the use of Facebook by the so-called Millinnials, it is essential to consider differing levels of technology knowledge. While SNSs unquestionably demonstrate a very high rate of penetration among Millennials, unless proven, it cannot be assumed by default that Millennials are consistently technologically savvy and Facebook can be used as learning platform based on the mere fact that it is an extensively adopted  communication tool. (Hargittai, 2010; Vaidhyanathan, 2008)

For the past several years, many researchers and policy analysts have discussed the positive and negative implications of SNS. Pasek et al (2009) claims that there is no negative relationship, between course grades and this type of technology. This finding is contrary to those reported by other researchers (Karpinsky,2009; Kirschner & Karpinski, 2010), which show a negative impact for SNSs on grades. Students are drawn to Facebook because of the social interaction (e.g., Pempek et al, 2009; Yan Yu et al 2010).

The application of Facebook in education is split into several polarizing topics: e.g., students’ involvement in the learning process, privacy, moral and ethical consequences, etc. Proponents and opponents of SNSs’ use in education, explore whether Facebook distracts students and whether it negatively affects grades (Marklein, 2009) or, on the contrary; does it involve students in the learning process (Maranto and Barton, 2010; Lester and Perini, 2010; Networking it, 2008; Skerrett et al, 2010; Towner et al, 2007).

Data-mining students and collecting suggestions about Facebook is the bedrock of a learning community began as early as 2006 (Towner et al, 2007). Public, school and academic librarians have been the most staunch proponents of Facebook as a tool with the potential to improve student-teacher’s interactions and communication (Stewart, 2009).

Facebook application in education faces strong criticism. Negative implications include the disruptive nature of social networking sites in the classroom (Jones et al, 2010; Study Confirms Pervasive Issues with Social Networking in Academia, 2009), which leads to blurred boundaries between real and virtual learning spaces (Thomas, 2010) and pollution of language (Philology, Etymology, and Phonetics, 2009).  The notion for caution regarding the use of SNS, which usually is voiced by educational administrators, often finds support among teachers (Boon and Sinclair, 2009).

The issue of privacy has frequently been addressed by policy analysts (Couros, 2008; Ellaway, 2010; Rosen, 2010; Schwartz, 2009; Vaughan, 2009. The intensity of the debate increases as analysts consider K-12 education (MacDonald et al, 2010; Mazer et al, 2009; Kist, 2008; Maranto and Barton, 2010; Minocha, 2009; Schwartz, 2009; How to Make Facebook Your New Best Friend, 2006). As discussed in the Chronicle of Higher Education, privacy concerns regarding SNSs acquires different dimensions than Facebook privacy in general: Facebook educational use to a great degree connected with boundaries of teacher-students relations (Schwartz, 2009).

A British survey reveals that eighty four percent of 4,000 teachers believe that SNSs help them share ideas, regardless of time and place (Networking it, 2008). Ninety five percent of British students use SNS, mostly for interrelationships, although face-to-face socialization is still important (Madge et al, 2009). Administrators interpret these facts differently. British higher education administrators found it unacceptable for students and instructors to use social networking as a tool to criticize the institution (Cunnane, 2010). Canadian administrators evidenced a similar view, where the danger of harming the reputation of the institution motivates administrators to demand development of principles, which must precede the use of Facebook (Ellaway, 2010).  Fister (2008) raises the point that with the advent of Facebook as part of the Web 2.0 movement, it might be time to reflect on the morals and ethics of society and academia and readjust the norms.

An  Ohio Educational Association memo of October 2007 urged teachers to remove their profiles from Facebook, in a clear contrast with the attitude of “information specialists, linguists, librarians, compositionists, rhetoricians, and others who study and embrace Web 2.0” (Maranto & Barton, 2010, p. 37; see also Pu-Shih, 2009). The memo is also in stark contrast with  the opportunities for social engagement argued by both students and instructors (Maranto & Barton, 2010, p.44).

Some of the authors emphasize the positive opportunities for education presented by SNS (e.g., Towner et al, 2007; Roblyer et al, 2010; Oblinger, 2008; Mazer et al, 2007; Madge et al. 2007; Connell, 2009). Educators readily share best practices for introducing students to social networking tools starting as early as kindergarten (Ramig, 2009). School districts, such as Minnetonka in Minnesota, organize efforts to develop a plan for strategic use of social networking tools (McCrea, 2010). Minnetonka school district, as many other school districts in the U.S., faces a tough question: How much financing will it take to enable a technological turnaround?

Recruitment and retention are the two buzz words for higher education administrators when it comes to Web 2.0 tools, Facebook in particular, (Orrell, 2008; How Students Choose Colleges, 2010). In addition, Educause, the leading organization for advancement of information technologies in education, offers online sessions on using social networking sites as retention tools ( Educators report the impact of Internet telephony and Facebook on international students (Greengard, 2009), which is a new trend in retention; administrators need to consider the wide ranging diversity of student populations. Facebook entangles the hopes of administrators to resolve the issue of retention as well as students’ engagement in the learning process (Santovec, 2006; 319 Read 2006). In K-12, administrators are considering Facebook as an option for online communication with parents, alumnae and donors (Carr, 2010).

A 2006 report (Read, 2006) raises consideration of higher education administrators to use Facebook as a vehicle for freshman orientation programs. Similar opinion regarding the use of SNS as an opportunity to meet peers on campus are reported in a later British study (Madge et al, 2009).

A poll of higher education administrators reveals an increase in willingness to use social networking sites (Joining the Social Media Conversation, 2009).Joly (2007; 2008) promotes the use of Facebook in higher education. Teacher’s self-disclosure in Facebook is considered by students an effective teaching method (Mazer et al, 2009). These opnions coincide with the research on online education that retention is based on community, and building community is based on personal presence, which can be achieved through Facebook self-disclosure.

The necessity of policy and the need for moral and ethics discussed above is reflected in Fister’s (2008) report regarding a controversy between a student and a professor. The student was charged with cheating when using Facebook as collaborative tool, while instructor’s directions were that students should work independently. The incident is reminiscent of faculty rejection of Wkipedia shortly after its inception (Read, 2007), which was swiftly followed by a wide acceptance of Wikipedia as legitimate reference tool. An increasing number of instructors report their affinity to promote collaboration on SNSs as a teaching tool (Aquino, 2009; Charlton et al, 2009; Harrington and Floyd, 2009). One way to explain the incident reported by Fister (2008) can be the inherent discrepancy between the pace of technology adoption by students and faculty. A survey conducted by Roblyer et al (2010) suggests that instructors are much less prone to venture into using Facebook or any other technology; this different rate can impede a discussion of the need for revision of policies regarding academic honesty.

In addition to the varied paces of technology adoption in education, another factor adds to the complexity of adapting Facebook for educational use. Berg et al (2007) noted that students want to be left alone on Facebook, a place where they can procrastinate, not learn. This is an issue, which precedes Facebok. Before Facebook blew away instant messaging, students considered “teaching” with instant messenger an invasion of their privacy (Wymer, 2006). Likewise, it is worth exploring whether the “hip” professor “friending” students via Facebook might actually be reducing her effectiveness in what is seen as an unwanted intrusion.

Facebook potentially changes the structure of educational institutions and teacher-student relationships. The use of Facebook may pose a risk of “fraternizing” (Lipka, 2007; Facebook: Some Implications for Academic Freedom, Intellectual Property, and Education, 2009); on the other hand it could strengthen the learning community and bring students and instructors closer in their quest for knowledge (Ellaway, 2007; Lipka, 2007; Mazer et al, 2007; Minocha, 2009; Skerrett, 2010; Selwyn, 2009; Steinfeld et al, 2008).

The use of social networking sites is becoming ubiquitous among American adolescents and pre-teens. As of 2008 (National School Boards Association and Grunwald Associates’ survey), “96 percent of American children ages 9 to17 who have Internet access have used social networking technologies… Yet more than 80 percent of districts prohibit students from online chatting and instant messaging at school, and more than 60 percent prohibit blogging” (see also Richardson, 2007, p. 68; Ward, 2008, p. 53; Teacher’s Pal, 2008). In 2007 and 2008, Richardson and Ward argued in an opinion piece that teachers must tap into the knowledge of students to figure out how to utilize social networking tools versus prohibiting their use. Of course, as Richardson and Ward’s argument is not based on longitudinal data, their point must remain conjectural. Lower grades, bullying, and sexual predators are only some of the factors that build a negative reputation around social networking and keep educators from utilizing SNS. Similar attitudinal barriers findings were reported in UK by Charlton, Devlin and Drummond (2009).

Selwyn (2009) also looked for a solution of how best to apply Facebook in education in terms of building a learning community. Based on 909 student interviews, Selwyn outlined themes of Facebook use and the “auxiliary” role of Facebook in the learning process. Grant (2008), on the other hand, report other results, namely that Facebook harms students by distracting them during classes and making them sleep deprived due to addiction. This controversial findings are  a reminder that establishing good practices for using Facebook as an educational tool must be the goal when pursuing application of SNSs in education.

Facebook is seriously considered by administrators in both higher education and K12 for administrative purposes (Weis, 2010). The January 2010 issue of the Association of the California School Administrators urges administrators to embrace Web 2.0 tools (Weis, 2010; Wayne, 2010). On the other hand, the facts reveal that, although K-12 administrators employ Facebook, K-12 students remain blocked from using SNSs in educational settings (Nagel, 2010).

As early as 2007, SkoolPool, an application for Facebook was developed as a tool for recruitment, a not uncommon use of SNSs (T.G., 2007). An exchange between school board members regarding the use of Facebook as a communication tool among school administrators emphasizes the participatory nature of the medium, yet, similar to the concerns of their British colleagues (Cunnane, 2010), T. G warned about inappropriate use (You were asked to start a Facebook page?, 2009). The early years of social networking sites are inevitably connected with the cautious attitude of K-12 administrators. To a great degree, such attitudes stem from the fact that the lack of a structured approach on how to address the implications the rapid advent of technology and the Internet in P12 and higher education (Brydolf, 2007).

A great number of authors advocate building on the lessons learned from the negative sides of social networking by focusing on the opportunities it offers; seemingly in a notion that follows the venerable folk aphorism: If you can’t beat them—join them (e.g., Couros, 2008; Maranto & Barton, 2010; 266 Mazer et al, 2009; Schwartz, 2009). One of the common themes in addressing the challenges and opportunities presented by social networking is developing policies for educational use. As early as 2006, Kermit Hall, President of the State University of New York at Albany, suggests addressing such concerns (Q&A: Facebook and Legal Limits to Institutional Response, 2006)

Social networking reinforces the old notion of school librarians and faculty working together (Harris, 2010; Stewart, 2009). Not surprisingly, librarians, both in K-12 and higher education are in the forefront of adopting Facebook as a learning tool and are very active in the use of social networking tools in educational environments (Harris, 2010; Ward, 2008; Kenneth and Seeholzer, 2009). Academic librarians habitually see the potential and the positive sides in using social networking sites (Conell, 2009; Chu and Nalani, 2008; Click and Petit, 2010). Similar are the attitudes toward Facebook and social networking sites by the British librarians (Secker and Lloyd, 2008). Pan et al (2009) go beyond promoting Facebook in education and rally to integrate it in their information literacy program targeting First Year students. Similarly, Canadian librarians are rallying teachers to apply Web 2.0 tools as part of the information literacy for the 21st century (Branch, 2009). Academic librarians, similar to teachers and administrators, are aware of privacy issues and working toward assisting faculty with expanding their traditional commitment to privacy (Fernandez, 2010). Ishizuka (2009) reports librarians’ attitudes congruent with the usual librarian trend to be ahead of the curve, yet librarians will cave under the pressure of the administration to cautiously approach the implementation of Web 2.0 tools.

The literature constantly reminds educators that they are falling behind in utilizing Facebook as educational tool (DeVoe, 2009). An interesting glimpse of the early days of librarians on Facebook and other SNS is provided by the American Library Association (Social Networking Services, 2007)

Research conducted by a for-profit company in August and September of 2009 reveals that six out of ten educators have SNS accounts, mostly in Facebook, and would like to use the account, but don’t. Another conclusion of the survey is that those who have a Facebook account are more likely to use technology in the classroom (Survey: Educator Participation in Social Networking Lags Well Behind Interest, 2010). Similar are the trends in the U.K., where teachers are advised by the Teacher Support Network to prevent students’ access to Facebook (Vaughan, 2009). The irony is that a year later the same Teacher Support Network has on their web site ( a mashup linking to Facebook.

The emerging of social networking tools raises serious issues, which in isolated cases have grievous consequences and thus shape the opinion about SNS in education. For example, Stacy Snyder, a teacher from Pennsylvania, had posted a picture on her MySpace account with a caption “Drunken Pirate.” The posting led to administrative actions by the university she was attending. Stacy Snyder’s story ties up with the issues of privacy, which goes beyond educational settings and it is a major societal concern right now (Rosen, 2010, Reed 2007; Foulger et al, 2009). Stacey Snyder’s case and the case described by Fister (2008) are the opposite trend of what Mazer et al (2009) refer to in their research. They claim that self-disclosure of instructors via Facebook increases the rapport with students, although the authors also warn that Facebook must be used with caution. Further, Foulger et al (2009) are working toward a model, which can prepare future educators with the “ethical vulnerabilities that may be unlike those encountered in other areas of the teaching profession” of using Facebook in education ( p.18). Peripheral to education, ethical issues involved in the use of Facebook and similar SNS are discussed by professional organization, such as the American Psychology Association (Taylor et al, 2010).

Another topic fueling debates is the issue of intellectual property. SNS and their popularity opens again the controversies around the issues of intellectual property. (Facebook: Some Implications for Academic Freedom, Intellectual Property, and Education, 2009; Bauerlein, 2009).

An unique approach to the use of Web 2.0 tools in education, Facebook included, is presented by a South African researcher who looks at the impact of social networking tools on the concept of learning spaces. Facebook and similar blur the difference between physical and virtual environments in education, and thus “space and learning are inextricably linked, such that the space in which a particular type of learning takes place is an integral part of the definition of that particular kind of learning” (Thomas, 2010, p. 508). A similar notion is reflected in boyd and Ellison (2007) in terms of bringing “online and offline social networks” and by Skerrett et al (2010) about the impact of the “third space,” the out-of-school experience, including social networking sites.

Thomas’ research about the connection between physical and virtual environments needs to be tied up with the notion that social networks are used to “solidify offline connections, as opposed to meeting new people” (boyd and Ellison, 2004, p. 12).  Boyd and Ellison’s observations are confirmed by Subrahmanyam et al (2008), whereas the latter team also confirmed the findings of boyd and Ellison that SNS are used to strengthen offline social networks. On the other hand, Kenneth and Seeholzer (2009) point out that students clearly distinguish educational and social spaces on the Web, which is confirmed with earlier studies (Wymer, 2006)

Additional topics researched in the bibliography compiled on the educational use of Facebook include academic freedom (Facebook: Some implications for academic freedom, intellectual property, and education.(2009), the integration of Facebook with other SNS, e.g. Twitter (Young, 2010), and Facebook as a data-harvesting tool for educational administrators (301 What Can Be Measured, 2009). Additional concerns raised in the bibliography include the level of involvement of educational, non-profit institutions with commercial products such as Facebook (Mitrano, 2008). Last but not least, according to the compiled bibliography, the research reflects dominance of “Facebook” awareness among instructors in the medical field and English. With several exceptions of research done by instructors on chemistry, the “exact” sciences are not presented in a rather opulent research of the educational use of SNS. It is noteworthy, though, that both K-12 and higher education are equally vested in establishing parameters for the educational use of SNS.

Among the large number of articles devoted on the use of Facebook in education, a great number comprise serious quantitative or qualitative approach (e.g., Steinfield et al, 2008; MacDonald et al, 2010; Roblyer et al, 2010; , Subrahmanyam et al, 2008;  Selwyn, 2009;  Chu and Nalani, 2008; Yan Yu et al, 2010; Huseyin and Cavus, 2010).  The use of SNS in education is represented only in the English-speaking world. Sporadic articles in English about the application of Facebook in education appear in the publications from other countries, yet a clear digital divide is noticeable in this aspect. On the other hand, Facebook’s own group “Facebook in Education” reveals clearly that educators from around the world do care about the possibilities of using SNS.  The peer-reviewed world might be offering a skewed view with its dominance of English language as lingua franca; an impediment which defies the potencies of the Internet or perpetuates the limitations of old, pre-Internet norms. Moreover, as boyd and Ellison (2007) have noticed, the Anglo-centric approach influences the limitation of topics and how they are addressed by researchers. Both authors draw attention to the fact that a global process is actually turned into a very local, if not parochial feature. The use of SNS in education, as many other topics in education, has a long way to go before it turns into a true global approach.

Since the inception of social networking sites, there is much confusion in the educational world whether SNS should be embraced or banned from the learning process. Mitrano (2008) outlines three challenges with Facebook as a possible “killer app” for education: 1. Educating both adolescents and their parents on how to use Facebook; 2. Customizing Facebook to the needs of higher education; 3. Considering the legal and policy implications on a global scale.

Facebook, similarly to other Web 2.0 tools, is not a silver bullet and will not resolve issues and problems in education. Findings in a study about the impact of the shootings at colleges and the use of Facebook to reach out to each other, reveals that while there were short-term benefits, there was no lasting effect. Facebook like any other technology requires intimate knowledge of use and consequent profound experience applying it didactically. There will be no blueprint-, textbook-like manual to guide instructors and students; only a pool of “best practices,” which can assist both educators and mentees to make better choices how, if at all, to apply SNS in the learning process.

“So devil or darling, social networking is here to stay. Used with care it can be a powerful tool not only to engage pupils, but also to network with colleagues” (Network it, 2008). If it is not Facebook per se, it will be a similar social networking application, which will inherit the positive sides of Facebook and continue to evolve. In recent news, it is reported that social SNS with specific application for education has been tested at universities (Parry and Young, 2010).

Wirehog is gone, but it is a reminder how whimsical such applications are in the time of the Internet. Facebook is attempting to assert itself in P-24, but it can be replaced anytime by another interface. Then what? It is not how we use the application itself; it is the didactic around using such tools (Move Over, Facebook–Here Comes Wirehog, 2005). Moreover, academia just released its answer to Facebook – Sophia (http://, a social teaching and learning network. It will be interesting to see what direction instructors and learners will take in Europe and around the world.