A Beginner's Guide to Social Engineering


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A Swansea University School of Engineering Research Project module, has been using the Ning social networking platform all year as part of an e-learning enhancement project on Peer Support and Assessment. On 15th April, I presented a Staff Development Unit Lunch and Learn session in which I showed the attendees how it was done, how it went and how you could do it too.

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  • EG-353 – an Engineering Research Project module, has been using the Ning social networking platform all year as part of an e-learning enhancement project on Peer Support and Assessment.
  • In this lunch and learn session I want to present you with this menu. In the starters, I'll introduce myself and my colleagues, and then go on to discuss what we did and how we did it. This will take about 10 minutes after which you can get some lunch. In the Main Course I want to show you how you could do it yourself by creating a Ning network for SALT. This should take around 20 minutes. In the last 10 muntes or so, for dessert so-to-speak  I want to give you some alternatives to what we did that might also work for you.  This slideshow is available on-line in Google Docs. I will also make it available on slideshare.
  • In this Staff Development Unit Lunch and Learn session I plan to show you what we did, why we did it, how it was done, how it went and how you could do it too. Before I tell you what we did, I should start out by telling you who  we  are. I am, Chris Jobling, a lecturer in the School of Engineering and I was ably supported in this work by... Matthew Allen, a learning support officer from LIS who many of you will know from previous lunch and learns. and ... Chris Hancock, a final year engineering student who had the EG-353 Social Network which i plan to show you as his dissertation project.
  • This a screen capture of the Ning network that we created for the EG-353 Research Project - the School of Engineering's final year dissertation project. If you follow the link you can actually see the Ning network. In the talk I'll spend a couple of minutes showing you around.
  • We found a way to link the social network into blackboard.  It of course needs a separate registration and sign on process. It unfortunately doesn't look work inside a frame, so it can't be embedded, which is a slight disadvantage when encouraging engagement ... students have to login to s separate web site.
  • We didn't think that we'd get staff engaged with social media, so we created a lot of group spaces that they could use with there supervisees if they wanted to.  Each group contains a private journal for the students, a wiki for sharing documentation and ideas, and the usual Blackboard group tools -- file exchange, email, collaboration and discussion board. What you see on this slide is the instructor edit view ... in reality, each group is by default visible only to the student and his/her supervisor (we used Selective Release to achieve this). We don't think this was successful ... from the login statistics, it seems that staff have not accessed the site at all, despite the fact that it contains all the definitive documentation about the dissertation, including research skills, resources, guidelines and deadlines, for writing up, etc. that students are likely to ask their supervisors about! This despite the fact that I use the email list to include staff in my messages to students!
  • We created a delicious account for the project ... but I actually found it easier to share bookmarks by tagging my own links rather than logging in via a separate account. It's easy to get a "tag roll" and either embedding it into a Blackboard or Ning page or generating an RSS feed for it.
  • We set up a twitter feed ... as you can see, students don't use twitter!
  • When engagement with Ning started to dwindle, we also created a Facebook Page for cross posting twitter and Ning announcements.
  • Peer Support is an HEFCw funded Learning Enhancement project. One of six set as part of Gwella. The idea was to try to exploit students' familiarity with social networks top see if they could be used to provide peer support. We chose one of the largest groups of engineering students that I have direct responsibility for. This is the level 3 research dissertation that all level 3 engineering students do. There are around 200 such students in 2009-2010 With hindsight, this may not have been the best peer group! Ning was the easiest way to do this ... literally five minutes to create a network.  Other swan.ac.uk hosted alternatives such as Elgg (remember Oremi) or Buddy Press would be possible (indeed attractive) but these would have required hosting on campus and more infrastructure to get started.
  • Initially, results were encouraging, We got a large sign on rate and when something went wrong with the project allocation software, we got a lot of lively debate. Things quietened down once terms started. Mostly, we suspect, because the dissertation is very much a personal project and students want face-to-face support from their supervisors rather than their peers. Next year, we plan to try it again with first years!
  • We'll show you how later ... grab some lunch now.
  • Alternatives to Ning A quick (not exhaustive) survey to other possibilities.
  • As lots of students (if not most) use Facebook regularly, it might be attractive to try to engage students with the university, school, or module via Facebook. However, I'd recommend using a Facebook Page rather than trying to befriend your students as most students seem to prefer to keep their University and Social networks separate.  We use this as a forwarder from our Ning site, but it's possible that you may get more traction by building peer support exclusively around a Facebook page. It's not obvious where to create pages, but here is the secret link:  http://www.facebook.com/advertising/?pages . Don't be put off by the word advertising! You can also link Ning to Facebook: either to an individual user's personal news feed or to a page.
  • I use FriendFeed primarily as a lifestream, but it also has Facebook-like features.  A colleague Alan Cann (@AJCann) at Leicester has been using it as PLE with first-year Biological Science students  http://scienceoftheinvisible.blogspot.com/2009/10/friendfolios.html . For this he uses a feature of FriendFeed called groups, which are similar to Facebook networks, and work in the same way. Students seem to like it and have christened it Fakefeed. One major advantage he has found is that it will run inside a Blackboard course page, so although it needs a separate login (though it will accept GoogleId, Facebook connect and Twitter), once registered and logged in students can use it transparently with the VLE. A big advantage is that FriendFeed is designed to reach out to social media and it's a snap to link in all your other social network tools. One slight unknown ... Facebook bought FriendFeed, possibly for its connectivity, and the long-term future of the site is therefore unknown.
  • In my limited experience, I have found that the stories about Twitter being for the over 30s to have some validity. It could work though if you make conversations around a topic part of the course materials. It is also easy to embed Twitter streams into Blackboard. Lots of social tools also make it easy to post sharing announcments by using Twitter. A couple of suggestions:  1. create a twitter account for your module. Get LIS to issue you an email alias for this purpose so that you can keep your personal tweets separate from the module tweets. Most Twitter desktop and smartphone apps will happily support multiple accounts. 2. Try the university 140 idea of tweeting useful facts to your students:  http://www.c4lpt.co.uk/140university/
  • Ping.fm is a useful web service that can be used to update multiple sites at the same time. We use it to post updates to Ning, Facebook and Twitter simultaneously. But there are many more connections possible.  Well worth a look, particularly if you are looking after a number of networks with multiple identities.
  • The jury's out on the next two! Google Buzz was launched (with some controversy) a few weeks ago.  It provides a way of setting up a social network around the people you are in regular gmail or gtalk contact with, or whose posts you read regularly on Google reader, or whose blogs you follow. Very easy to create conversations around "found and shared items" I tend not to read the Buzz stream, but people I follow automatically appear on my google reader feed. Would work best if students where mostly on gmail I suspect. But one to watch.
  • Another technology in search of a use case! Lots of speculation about what it could be used for in education (see slide). Lot of interest on campus after I received some invitations and gave them all away on the swan.ac.uk  Most people that I've seen use it as a glorified discussion list so I suspect it'll be a while before we know what to do with it. Worth getting an invite if you want to see if it has any value for you, but maybe should wait until it's out of beta before using it with students. It will be interesting to see how Google merges wave with its other social media services.
  • This might be the easiset way to establish some form of social network. All blogger (that is Google) blogs have, by default, a follow me control. Create a blog for your module, encourage your students to follow you and perhaps add a 3rd-party discussion widget (e.g. disqus).  Then feed the RSS feeds from the blog, discussion and followers into FriendFeed and you have an (almost) instant social network. Remember also that Google blogs, indeed groups and networks created in most social networking tools, can be made private!  Unfortunately, there's nothing like this in Blackboard!
  • Here are some more links.  Social Networking in Plain English is probably well known to you. Gina Bianchini was co-founder  and CEO of Ning. Here she's interviewed for the Google Developer network and talks about Ning and Open Social. Classroom2.0 is a large social network for educators interested in using web 2.0 for education. Ning in education is a ning social network specifically about using Ning in education. 140 university is a free twitter service from the social learning academy. It is a good idea worth stealing! The Social Learning Academy (part of the Jane Hart's Centre for Learning Technology (ttp://www.c4lpt.co.uk) is a semi commercial site that is concerned with using social media in work and education. There are some valuable free resources. Alan Cann (@AJCann) is using FriendFeed in interesting ways. This is a link to his initial FriendFolio announcement. You can follow the rest via his blog, friendfeed and twitter. The final link is to a FriendFeed group that we set up for the HEFCw funded project that inspired. Your input welcome! 
  • If you want to make contact, please note that cpjobling is my digital identity. This works almost everywhere. On Facebook and Ning  you'll find me by my email Swansea University address.
  • A Beginner's Guide to Social Engineering

    1. 1. A Beginner's Guide to Social Engineering Chris Jobling School of Engineering
    2. 2. Lunch (and learn) Menu <ul><li>Starters </li></ul><ul><li>Main Course </li></ul><ul><li>Dessert </li></ul><ul><li>Slides link:  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Google docs  http://bit.ly/cpj-landl-ning  and slideshare </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Embedded </li></ul><ul><ul><li>blog.cpjobling.org ,  </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>the learning lab  llcommunity.blogspot.com   </li></ul></ul>
    3. 3. Starters <ul><li>What we did </li></ul><ul><li>Why we did it </li></ul><ul><li>How we did it </li></ul><ul><li>How it went </li></ul><ul><li>How you can do it too </li></ul>
    4. 4. What we did <ul><li>eg-353.ning.com </li></ul>starters
    5. 5. What we did starters
    6. 6. What we did starters
    7. 7. What we did <ul><li>delicious.com/eg353project </li></ul>starters
    8. 8. What we did <ul><li>@eg353project </li></ul>starters
    9. 9. What we did <ul><li>Facebook Page </li></ul>starters
    10. 10. Why we did it <ul><li>One of the HEFCw funded &quot;enhancement&quot; projects </li></ul><ul><li>As an experiment in encouraging peer support for learning </li></ul><ul><li>Because the dissertation project was a large enough group </li></ul><ul><li>Ning, because it was the easiest way to go (as you'll see) </li></ul>starters
    11. 11. How it Went <ul><li>Initially very well </li></ul><ul><li>     Very large enrolment percentage within days of release </li></ul><ul><li>     A bit of controversy with project allocation helped! </li></ul><ul><li>Rapid drop off in interest ... but there may be reasons for this </li></ul>starters
    12. 12. How you could do it too <ul><li>After lunch! </li></ul>starters
    13. 13. Main Course <ul><li>Setting Up a Ning Site for the SALT Community ... live! </li></ul>
    14. 14. Dessert Menu <ul><li>Facebook page </li></ul><ul><li>Friendfeed group </li></ul><ul><li>Twitter stream </li></ul><ul><li>Ping.Fm </li></ul><ul><li>Google buzz </li></ul><ul><li>Google wave </li></ul><ul><li>Blogger blog with follower widget </li></ul><ul><li>Doggy bag </li></ul>
    15. 15. Facebook page dessert Facebook Pages Page
    16. 16. FriendFeed Group dessert The FriendFeed group page for the HEFCw Project
    17. 17. Twitter dessert A Module Twitter Feed
    18. 18. ping.fm dessert ping.fm
    19. 19. Google buzz dessert My Buzz Crowd!
    20. 20. Google Wave dessert My Waves
    21. 21. Blog with Discussion and Followers dessert My Blog: Fresh and Crispy
    22. 22. Doggy Bag <ul><li>Because it's nice to take some goodies away with you: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Social Networking in Plain English (youtube) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Gina Bianchini on Open Social and Ning   (youtube) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Classroom 2.0: www.classroom20.com (it's a Ning site) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ning in Education:  education.ning.com  (Ning 2 of course) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>140University (on Twitter):  @140university </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Social Learning Academy:  http://bit.ly/deVhG5 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>@AJCann, &quot; Friend Folios &quot;, Science of the Invisible:  http://bit.ly/aXcJMh . </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>  FriendFeed group for the HEFCw project:  friendfeed.com/supeersupport . </li></ul></ul>
    23. 23. I'm cpjobling everywhere except Facebook and Ning where I'm C.P.Jobling@Swansea.ac.uk!