What is Networking?

Networking: The Ability to Search for, Synthesize and Disseminate Information

A resourceful student is “one who is able to successfully navigate an already abundant and continually changing world of information” (Jenkins et al, 2009).

In the Web 2.0 networks, “the value is not in the hardware or content, but how they tap into the participation of large scale social communities that become invested in collecting and annotating data for others” (Jenkins et al, 2009). In this world, students can no longer rely on expert gatekeepers to tell them what is worth knowing. Instead, they must become more reflective and must be able to assess the motives and knowledge of different communities (Jenkins et al., 2009). Students must be able to identify which group is most aware of relevant resources and chose a search system matched to the appropriate criteria (Jenkins et al., 2009). They must also learn how to effectively use networks to get their individual work out into the world (Jenkins et al, 2009).

To help student learn effective networking skills, teachers should:

1. Identify potential resources and teach a variety of socially based search systems (,,,, Diigo, and RSS among others) which expose students to a variety of opinions and information.

This involves understanding the social and cultural contexts that information is presented, when to trust, when not to trust, and how to filter and prioritize relevant data.

2. Help students in the process of synthesis, whereby multiple resources and perspectives are sampled, distilled and combined to produce new knowledge.

Students need help synthesizing their own perspectives and acquiring knowledge.

3. Encourage the ability of students to effectively use social networks to disperse their own ideas and media products.

Students are more motivated if they can share what they create with a larger community.


Watch this amazing video summarizing what a "networked" student looks like!

Student Networking
You Know You’re a 21st century teacher if you (Valenza, 2010):
  • Know that communication is the end-product of research and teach learners how to communicate creatively and engagingly for new audiences. We have a whole new realm of 2.0 possibilities as well as new ways to make a difference, to participate as digital citizens. You consider new interactive and engaging communication tools for student projects--digital storytelling, wikis, podcasts, streaming video as possibilities beyond the mortal powers of PowerPoint
  • You recognize that the work your students create has audience.
  • You recognize that they may share their ideas and their knowledge products to participate in dialogs beyond the walls of the library or classroom.
  • You see the potential for student knowledge products--for sharing knowledge global, for creating powerful networks, for making social and political impact.
  • You share with students their responsibilities for participating in social networks.
  • Know this is only the beginning of social networking. Students will get to their Facebook and MySpace accounts through proxy servers and their cell phones despite any efforts to block them. You plan educationally meaningful ways to incorporate student excitement (and your own) for social networking. You establish classroom or library guidelines for their use during the school day.
  • Use new tools for collaboration. Your students create together, They synthesize information, enhance their writing through peer review and negotiate content in blogs and wikis and using tools like GoogleDocs, Flickr, Voicethread, Animoto and a variety of other writing or mind mapping and storytelling tools.
  • Consider ways to bring experts, scholars, authors into your classroom using telecommunication tools like Skype and Internet2.
  • Help students create networks for learning activities like: and



Teacher’s Networking for Personal and Professional Development
You Know You’re a 21st century teacher if you (Valenza, 2010):
  • Build your own personal/professional learning network!
  • Guide your teacher colleagues in setting up professional learning networks.
  • Seek professional development that will help you grow even if you cannot get professional development for that growth. You can't "clock" these hours.
  • Read both edtech journals and edtech blogs, not just the print literature of our own profession.
  • Learn by visiting the webcast archives of conferences you cannot attend. You visit David's Hitchhikr to discover new events. You visit sites like edtechtalk.
  • Seek out a professional learning network using social networking tools
  • You share your new knowledge with others using social bookmarking tools like Delicious or Diigo.
  • You set up blog feeds to read the blogs of experts and educators you respect.
  • You follow selected educators, experts, authors, etc. with microblogging apps like Twitter
  • You join a Ning, for instance:
  • Classroom20Ning
  • TeacherLibrarianNing
  • NCTE Conference Ning
  • SLJ Summit Ning
  • VoiceThreadForEducatorsNing
  • NECC Ning
  • Future of Education

Will Richardson discussing how personal learning networks work, and how students need help in understanding how to create theirs

“Participatory culture shifts the focus of literacy from individual expression to community involvement” – Henry Jenkins

Affinity spaces or networks offer powerful opportunities for learning because they are sustained by common endeavors that bridge differences – age, class, race, gender and educational level- and because people can participate in various ways according to their skills and interest. (Jenkins, et al., 2009)


Networks allow participants to feel like the expert, while utilizing the expertise of others and both receive and give feedback. They should encourage participants to acquire new knowledge or skills, however, this type of informal learning is not static, but allows us to move in and out of the networks if they fail to meet our needs and interests.

The ability to network will become a core social skill”(Jenkins et al., 2009)


Jenkins, H., Purushotma,, R., Weigel,, M., Clinton, K., & Robison, A. J. (2009). Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century. Retrieved from Massachusetts Institute of Technology website:

Valenza, Joyce. (2010). Manifesto for 21st Century School Librarians. You Know You’re a 21st Century Librarian if… Wiki. Retrieved from:

Photo Credits
Young Man Skyping International Students Retrieved from:

Two Classes Skyping Each other Retrieved from:

One Laptop Per Child Retrieved from:

Holding Hands Retrieved from: