Weeks Four and Five in CSC 442 Section B at UIS – Transcript

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Today’s podcast is about Weeks 4 and 5 in CSC 442 Section B at the University of Illinois at Springfield.  For more information, visit the blog at csc442b.blogspot.com.

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Well, welcome back!  This is Burks Oakley, and today is Sunday, February 16, 2014.  I'm speaking to you from my rented condo in beautiful Naples, Florida.  I'll be moving out of this place at the end of the month, which is now less than two weeks away.  So I'm trying to make good use of the time that I have remaining here in South-West Florida.  This past week, I went to a number of different locations to photograph birds, and I was able to photograph four new species that I hadn't seen before, which was pretty nice.  And this past Thursday, I received an invitation to have lunch with UIS Chancellor Susan Koch this coming Tuesday, when she will be visiting here in Naples.  So if there is anything you would like me to say to the Chancellor when I see her, please let me know.  I'll also be seeing her and other UIS alumni and friends at a reception at the Naples Hilton tomorrow evening, and I'll be having dinner on Tuesday evening with Holly Fowler, who is the UIS Alumni Relations Officer at University of Illinois Alumni Association.  So I'm really looking forward to the next few days.

OK, now, on with the podcast.  This past week, in Week Four of our course, we looked at several reports from the Pew Internet and American Life Project that dealt with social networking sites - sites like Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

I have to say that this week's discussions were the most active we've had in our class so far this semester - I guess that social networking is a topic that resonates with many of you.  But unlike previous semesters, when I had more traditional-age college students in the class, you all aren't addicted to Facebook.  In fact, I was surprised to learn that so many students in the class actually don't use Facebook on a regular basis.

But for those of you who do use social networking sites, it is clear from our discussions that Facebook is the number one social networking site - but given the demographics of our class, it seems that LinkedIn might be a close second.  Some of you started with MySpace as far back as middle school, but moved on to Facebook in college.  And, as I mentioned, many of the older students in the class don't have much of an interest in the activities associated with many of the social networking sites.  In fact, several older students in our class described how they fail to see why younger people are so addicted to Facebook - to the extent that they are checking their Facebook accounts many, many times each day, and continuously updating their status from their cell phones.

We discussed what it means to be too connected - and too dependent upon sites like Facebook.  We had extensive discussions about issues of privacy that go along with the use of social networking sites - what do you put on your Facebook site, and what do you want others to know about you?  And, how will employers use Facebook and other social networking sites to evaluate potential employees?  The whole issue of employers using these sites generated some really interesting discussions.

Several students mentioned how they disliked all the new features in Facebook - how they don't want to be bombarded with games and surveys, much less targeted advertising.

It seems that many of you do not use Twitter - and many of the students in the class do not want to participate in a social networking activity where they would continuously learn what type of cereal people had for breakfast, or who a celebrity was dating.  I started a discussion this week where I tried to show that Twitter can be used for a very different purpose - to form a so-called "personal learning network".  And hopefully I convinced some of you to approach Twitter from this perspective.  I was encouraged that several students created a free Twitter account and started to use it - and found the experience worthwhile.

Finally, we talked about building a professional network through LinkedIn, and how that can be of value to traditional students when they graduate and go out into the job market.  And, of course, LinkedIn is of value to those people who are already employed - helping them make new professional contacts, and reinforcing existing ones.

It was interesting to discuss how older adults are now using social media.  We learned that many students have parents and grandparents using Facebook.  We discussed the many reasons for older adults to use social media - and how Facebook has enabled older adults to reconnect with childhood friends.  As I mentioned, I have a number of Facebook friends from my high school days back in Euclid, Ohio, in the 1960's.  In fact, one of my high school friends visited us at our home in Champaign a year ago, and we had re-connected after many years using Facebook.

I posted a number of new articles for everyone to read.  I have to say that social networking is really in the news these days - and it certainly is impacting all of our lives.

One of the unresolved questions for me dealt with parents being Facebook friends with their college-age children.  Is that really a good idea?  Another unresolved question is the age at which it is appropriate for teens, or even pre-teens, to start having their own accounts on social networking sites.

Overall, it was an interesting week - I'm glad that so many of you participated actively in the threaded discussions in Blackboard.  I hope that, as a class, we can sustain this momentum in coming weeks.  And speaking of coming weeks, tomorrow we'll be starting Week Five in our class.

In Week Five, we’re going to be looking at the general topic of mobile access to the Internet and the myriad gadgets that many Americans use to go online from anywhere.  We'll be reading four reports from the Pew Internet and American Life Project, and they are entitled
"The rise of e-reading", and "The Future of Apps and Web", "Tablet Ownership 2013", and "Smartphone Ownership 2013"

The Pew report "The rise of e-reading" found that one-fifth of American adults say that they have read an e-book in the past year.  The rise of e-books in American culture is part of a larger story about a shift from printed to digital material. Those who have taken the plunge into reading e-books stand out in almost every way from other kinds of readers. Foremost, they are relatively avid readers of books in all formats: almost 9 out of 10 of those who read e-books in the past 12 months also read printed books.

The Pew report "The Future of Apps and Web" dealt with how the boom in mobile connectivity has been accompanied by a boom in innovation and sales of targeted software applications (which we call apps).  Apple’s iPhone and its App Store debuted in June 2007; the iPad debuted in April 2010. A few years ago, Apple announced that 25 billion apps had been downloaded. Similarly, Google’s Android Market hit 10 billion downloads by December 2011, and users have been downloading apps at a rate of 1 billion a month.  So is the World Wide Web “in decline” while “apps” are where our future should be? This is not just a debate about technology use and which businesses will prevail. It involves different visions of the way that people will access information, learn, amuse themselves, and create material with others in the digital era.  The notion of the Web as the ultimate marketplace for digital delivery may now be in doubt.

The Pew reports entitled "Tablet Ownership 2013" and "Smartphone Ownership 2013" found that for the first time, a third of American adults ages 18 and older own a tablet computer like an iPad, Google Nexus, or Kindle Fire -- almost twice as many as owned a tablet a year ago.  Interestingly, adults ages 35-44 are most likely to own a tablet, compared with younger and older adults.  In addition, more than one-half of all Americans now own a smartphone of some kind.  Smartphone ownership is particularly high among younger adults, especially those in their twenties and thirties (although a majority of Americans in their mid-forties through mid-fifties are now smartphone adopters).  In addition, smartphone ownership is particularly high among those with relatively high levels of household income and educational attainment - go figure!

I have to say that much of this is still relatively new to me - I purchased an Android smartphone several years ago, but I don't make very good use of all of its various features.  I do make heavy use of my notebook computer - I use it to go online everywhere.  And I get a lot of use out of my iPad, and I have a lot of apps installed on it.  I use it regularly as an e-reader - I can check-out e-books for free from the Champaign Public Library, no matter where I am.  And, of course, I have a lot of apps for accessing news.

I'm really looking forward to learning from all of you this coming week - since I'm sure that many of you, who are considerably younger than I am, have much to share about how you use mobile devices and various other gadgets to stay connected from anywhere at any time.  At any rate, I'm really looking forward to our discussions this coming week! 

I hope that all of you can finalize your topic for your first paper in the coming week, and then begin discussing your paper in the Phase One discussion forum.  Remember that this paper is due on Friday, March 14th, which is less than 4 weeks away now.

Finally, note that our course syllabus also has a link called "How to Cite the Internet" for the Week Five assignment.  This is important material to understand before you write your first paper.

Phew!  Wow - another long podcast this week - but I had lots of topics I wanted to cover.  I hope that you all are enjoying the class so far.  And, if you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

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Well, that wraps up this podcast, so until next time, this is Burks, signing off.

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