Dr. Greenhow addresses why Web 2.0 technologies are not widely integrated in education in her article Social Scholarship: Applying Social Networking Technologies to Research Practices. She argues that a lack of research-based best practices and educator modeling are contributing reasons. This lack prevents scholars from identifying the “educative uses of participatory technologies.”

In light of this, Greenhow defines and examines “social scholarship” and ways to implement social scholarship into education, and specifically research practices. Greenhow defines social scholarship as the application of Web 2.0 technologies to change the way in which “academic learning is accomplished through social networks.” It is a blend of traditional, formal education, with the informal education possible on the Internet that “leverages and archives our collective intelligence.”

Greenhow feels that using various Web 2.0 tools and creating “semi-public virtual selves” will give scholars insight into their own work. She proceeds to list and describe some of the tools that all for building semi-public, virtual selves, specifically related to research and social bibliography sites.

Social bibliography sites like Delicious, CiteULike, and Diigo allow scholars to document their own work, as well as archive and comment on other resources. These sites are “social” in that they allow scholars to interact with other user bibliographies and share sources and information. Through this, scholars can both get feedback about their own work and resources and give feedback to other scholars about their work and resources.

Resources can be categorized and tagged so users can use that metadata to move from a source that was used in one bibliography to other bibliographies that list that same source. Greenhow quotes Taraborelli’s prediction that “metadata analysis and ranking may eventually supplement that traditional peer review within print-based journal manuscripts by contributing a ‘soft peer review” based on how much an author’s work is cited, tagged, or reviewed online.”

Greenhow feels that these soft reviews may bring attention to work not published in library journals, which could benefit scholarship overall, widening scholarly perspective.

She does mention the counter argument that such a review process would lead to a “narrowing” of sources by “privileging the new and the popular” and possibly mediocre.

Social bibliographies and bookmarking will help scholars stay abreast of resources that are added to and updated in the various bibliographies they tag. They may even be able to build academic relationships through such interaction, which could further enhance their academic prowess. Doing so puts the “principles of openness, collaboration, and sharing to work in the research process.”

Greenhow concludes by mentioning the notion of cyberinfrastructure and the impact such infrastructure would probably have on scholarship and education, namely that individuals will require connecting to “peers, experts, and mentors via electronic networks” to carry out their work. Greenhow feels that educators and scholars will play a role in defining and establishing the best practices for this. She concludes that further examination of the affect of social bibliographies on scholarly research is needed, especially considering that the ways in which scholarship is “conceived, taught, and accomplished” is transforming.

Greenhow’s arguments are compelling in that she presents both sides of this issue and defines a path of discussion for her colleagues. I think the idea of marginalization, or “narrowness” as Greenhow identified it, is important to consider. We have discussed many times in class how if no others read something a person posts, it has no impact on the greater collective. Sources that are measured only on how often they are included in bibliographies, may eventually exclude works of importance that are for whatever reasons rarely cited.

The article only briefly touched on plagiarism of collected works, which I suspect the ease of collecting sources through social bibliographies could encourage.

Nevertheless, Greenhow brings to light a valid point, that scholarship is enhanced through openness, conversation, and collaboration. Web 2.0 participation technologies certainly enhance these and the K-12, postsecondary arenas will each soon realize the research potential created by these tools. Finally, I feel Greenhow’s conclusion that educators and scholars will play a valuable role in defining such research and scholarly infrastructure is critical to how these tools will inevitably be accepted in education. I appreciate her call to colleagues to own the role and responsibility because it appears to be happening with or without educators, whom I am sure would agree they would prefer to have a say in developing best practices for education.

Article: Greenhow, Christine. (2009). Social Scholarship: Applying Social Networking Technologies to Research Practices. Knowledge Quest, Social Scholarship. 37(4), 42-47.