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Putting the Work Into Social Networking
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Putting the Work Into Social Networking

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This presentation discusses: ...

This presentation discusses:

- Online Learning communities
- A particular learning community that we built
- How that learning community was used

A lot of the principles, problems and lessons apply to any learning community, whether you create it in your VLE, on facebook, on Ning or just on a blog or a wiki. Whatever technology you use, there are principles here that you should be able to apply.

Probably, most importantly, this is about building a learning community that works. Because, in many cases, they don't.

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  • I’m going to talk about:Online Learning communitiesA particular learning community that we built, a lot of the principles, problems and lessons apply to any learning communitywhether you create it in your VLE, on facebook, on Ning or just on a blog or a wiki. Whatever technology you use, there are principles here that you should be able to apply.Probably, most importantly, this is about building a learning community that works. Because there are a lot of learning communities out there that don’t work.
  • Technically, the technology side of things is the easy part. If you’re good with tech, building a place to host your community is easy enough. I created the exchange myself.Even if you’re not good with tech, you can find someone that is, and pay them. Or you can find a hosted service, like ning. Or you can just use what’s available to you, like moodle, web CT, etc.The technology isn’t important. And your aim is to make it background stuff that noone worries about. You want the tech to be invisible.I love this douglasadams quote that sums up what’s often the common view of technology. Technology to a lot of people are the things on the cutting edge, the newly developed tools. And we all know – cutting edge, brand new – often they just don’t work. That’s the risk with creating something new.Cars – they are technology, but they work, so they’re just taken for grantes. People don’t think of them as technology. Same as microwaves and TVs, they just work.The internet though – the web – computers – virtual learning environments. They’re all technology, because they’re still cutting edge, they’re still being developed. And sometimes, they don’t work. Or, often enough, we don’t know how to make them work.It changing though – people are becoming so much more familiar with tech, and in particular online communities. Facebook is now so ubiquitous that it’s barely technology any more. To some people facebook is the internet – it’s the vast majority of what they do online, and how they find and access other resources.
  • So, the first part of making it work is to stop worrying about the technology itself. In fact, stop worrying even about the content it’s delivering. Worry about the people.Facebook has demoed that it is possible to create an online community that that doesn’t centre around the technology, it’s just a place people collaborate, and it just works. It’s simple, it’s easy, and it’s got more people using it than live in the whole of europe. Nearly a billion people. 850 million.It’s easy to get sucked into thinking of the best technology to use. The best tools for the job. The best kind of content to use. But, first consideration is, the people. Your learners. Everything you do needs to be aimed at the learners and what they want and need. And one of the things they need most is each other.
  • It’s worth thinking for a minute about why we would want to create a learning community in the first place.You probably all know the reasons for introducing a blended approach to your teaching. You can offer flexibility to your learners, different, effective support mechanisms, alternative ways to learn that suit more people.But, the biggest thing that can scupper any attempt at introducing blended learning to your course, is that, online, people feel alone. On many courses, they are alone! And people don’t learn best by themselves.The learn best by being active – by doing things – and particularly by doing things with each other.Active, social learning is talked about a lot in the literature.Social constructivism is at the heart of it – constructing your learning through activity and putting it in context and consolodating it by discussing and doing with others.Learning communities are great at this, big or small – Lave and Wenger talk about the benefits and how they make learning more efficient and effective. They support learners in changing themselves from a novice to an expert over time. Your class is a learning community, and it will already have some of these advantages, but technology can help you develop that learning community and help your students to develop and support each other much more.It can encourage:
  • Tools like social networks and messaging platforms can allow your students to connect with each other much more easily, building contacts with the same interests, and the same learning goals.A connected student straight away feels much less alone in the online environment. They know there are others out there doing the same thing at the same time.
  • It’s not much good just knowing people are there though, we want them to interact!These tools also allow communication much more easily, and much more flexibily.You can send a message to your peers or your tutor from any place at any time, and because of the ease and flexibility of access, you can often get a reply just as quick.Plus, you can do it en mass – talk to everyone at once, and everyone can benefit from your question and the resulting answers.Think about an online problems forum and how it basically turns into an FAQ over time due to the fact that students always come across the same problems and ask the same questions.This sharing of knowledge is invaluable, making life so much easier than everyone working on the same work simultaneously, duplicating effort the whole way.Communication also matter between you and your learner:Feedback is king - fast and oftenmake them feel like there’s other people involved
  • After we’ve got them talking and sharing, we want them to start doing some workCollaborate: Work togetherSocial constructivism -building learning in context and with other people’s feedbackWisdom of crowds thanks to people working things out together. It’s a book by James SurowieckiThe opening anecdote relates Francis Galton's surprise that the crowd at a county fair accurately guessed the weight of an ox when their individual guesses were averagedCommon purpose encourages you, engages you, motivates youCreates responsibility for their part in thingscollaboration helps to cement learning in their own minds.ControlAllow an element of control in their learningShiftsreponsibility to them if they’ve invested some effort in how they’ll learn, and how they’ll be assessed.3e approachThe act of creation also allows you to give some purpose to their learningTheory of andragogy - the science of adult learning- shows that adults need a purpose. If their work is valuable and has context in the outside world, then it’s much more engaginCreate a resource for their peers, or the world at largeCreate something that matters
  • Even if you don’t believe a word of it, it’s hard to ignore how powerful the platforms are now. People want to use these platforms, we might as well try and get the benefit.Are there any tools there you haven’t heard of?
  • So, I’d like to have a look at the learning community we have built at Napier over the past 2 years. The ENEEBuilt on the ELGG platformWe host it externally on http://Would like to bring it internal
  • This shows the growth in the first year and a half.now hit a peak of around 250 people from around 800 staffhaven’t promoted it greatly since the start of september last year. Because of one of the lessons learned that I’ll talk about
  • Point out:File sharing is very popular – it’s not exactly what we’re looking for, but if that’s a useful resource, then greatEncouraging to see forum postings growing rapidly. Big measure for engagementBlog posting too – people contributing content to the community
  • Around 20% of the users contribute the majority of the content – not sure if it’s 80% of the content, but they’re obviously contributing a lot more than the other 80% who are on only once a week or less.
  • The most encouraging stat:Despite the problems that we’ve had, people really want to build on the system
  • Mahara
  • Navigation was a big problem for us.People are – dare I say it – lazy. They don’t want to search around for stuff, and that’s fair enough.Trouble locating groups.Trouble locating useful blog posts.Trouble locating files.Tags for common strandsChanged the navigation for groups. Documentation and help – right there on the front pageSearch very obvious – top right
  • Not another system.Simple problem of remembering another login and password.Even if you use an integrated system though, one user described an overload of environments to exist in. They couldn’t take on another space, spread themselves into another environment. Too many places to exist. This is one of the advantages to integrating it into your VLE if you can, or an existing space. But, you need to work out how to make it the same space – how to bring everything together.The ultimate goal –Learning, email, news, collaboration in one place. One portal.
  • Support is really important. I created videos to the entire site. Went down very well with most, helped a great deal of people. But a not insignificant group hated them.Create text and images – very clear screenshots.Also support in how to use the site.Lead by example. Show how you would expect to post.Show the types of materials to post.Create some blog posts and some pages.This takes a lot of legwork
  • Legwork extends to contributing yourself. Communities need champions. They need a small core of users. They do a lot of work.Initial inertia is great.
  • But once it’s going….

Putting the Work Into Social Networking Putting the Work Into Social Networking Presentation Transcript

  • Putting the Workhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/worldbank/ Into Social Networking Online Educa, 2012 | Colin Gray | Edinburgh Napier & Wild Trails
  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/maphutha
  • Think People http://www.flickr.com/photos/ancawonka/
  • The future of learning is Social http://photozou.jp/photo/show/1274031/63055983
  • Connect cc Steve Wheeler, University of Plymouth, 2010 http://www.flickr.com/photos/cizake/4164756091/sizes/o/in/photostream/
  • Communicate and Share http://www.flickr.com/photos/yilka/1829139871/sizes/z/in/photostream/
  • Collaborate and Create http://www.flickr.com/photos/eldan/4929258391/sizes/l/in/photostream/
  • Can We Ignore It? 23 Million visitors / mth 140 Million visitors / mth 18 Million x 50+ Users 2 Mobile visitors / mth Source: http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/social/
  • Edinburgh NapierEducation Exchange http://www.napiereducationexchange.com/
  • Why?The ChallengesWorkshop participantsrequiring continuing,long term supportStaff projects requiring acollaboration resourceCommunication acrossschool and faculty
  • What? The Exchange is… Blogging Collaborative page creation (Wikis) Groups File sharing Bookmarking
  • Who?Some Applications…Special Interest groups:Audio Feedback, Mobile Learning,Swahili!Staff DevelopmentSupportCommunity Building:BOE, development support groupsProject Coordination:Smartphone research, Staff Ideasproject Page 12
  • The Pareto Principle at Work
  • A Promising Future
  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/andrewscott/
  • Signposting is key http://www.flickr.com/photos/55637931@N03/
  • What?!Another login?http://www.flickr.com/photos/ced/
  • Support in a variety of ways http://www.flickr.com/photos/peterkaminski/
  • That snowball is heavy… http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikelegend/
  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/dinlaroche/But that’s good,in the long run!
  • Thanks!Contact me at:Colin Gray - c.gray@napier.ac.uk or hereThank you to:Flickr for images: Flickr.comEdinburgh Napier for development andfunding support