More than one point from Steve Hargadon is compelling. For instance, as I read Point Number 1, “You don't really know which social networking sites you create will take off or succeed” I thought then, well, but he asks us in Point Number 5 to “focus.” Point Number 1 also includes Clay Shirkey’s reminder that “failure is free”, but I do not think failure is free in for beginning biology students.
So that said, I will focus on a Point #4, “A network must fulfill some compelling need.” If in the classroom, students must see and appreciate the benefit to them for participating. I also think that expectations should be clearly outlined (rubric?) so they do understand the focus is on a different kind of informational exchange that is probably more formal than what they experience in their personal social networks. This is one of my personal emphases over the years – professional-ish (not necessarily polished, but polite, complete, thoughtful) class work.
But back to the perceived need to students of participating fully and well, I think the network must relate clearly to the course objectives. As Hargadon states, “They have to have a reason to come that is compelling, that solves a problem for them, or offers them the ability to do something they have really wanted to do that was much harder before.” Underlying this thought is the assumption that the student (in my case for this example) is motivated to learn.
I have been thinking a lot about student motivation lately, and that is another big topic, but I think I would have to start with the “compelling need” being points earned for good participation and a passing grade in the class.