It wasn't long ago that to be a credible participant in social media one only had to have a decent blog and keep it updated fairly regularly. The rise of social media was an astonishing and novel enough development that most people still don't blog today, despite the enormous influence that blogging and other forms of social media continue to have. One reason is that blogging takes time and takes some skill, both in writing and using blogging tools effectively. Another is the rise of online social networking sites like MySpace , Facebook , and Hi5 , which add a personal dimension to online interaction that many find more rewarding and relevant for them.
But just like blogs made two-way conversations on the Web relatively cheap, easy, and quick for the masses compared to previous methods (such as personal Web sites), conversational models on the Web have continued to evolve. Recently, microblogging and social aggregation platforms like Twitter and Friendfeed have emerged to offer alternative models that are compelling for a number of significant reasons. For one, contributing to them doesn't take much time. To achieve this, they either have radical limits on the amount of content that can be posted at a time (140 characters for Twitter), or they do the posting work for you and automatically centralize your social activity on other sites into a single feed, as in the case of Friendfeed. They also tend to work very well on mobile devices -- an incredibly fast growing channel for experiencing anything on the Web these days -- as well scale conversation well, are extremely easy to use (even easier in general than blogs), and allow you to keep track of a large numbers of contacts socially.
The challenge today is that while the size of individual contributions to online conversations is getting smaller, the frequency of conversations are increasing on these new social media platforms. Making this point, Sarah Perez over at Read/Write Web wrote this morning that there are too many choices, and too much content . Users of the latest social media tools are far more likely to post several times a day, more likely dozens of times, each one forming a new conversational beachhead. This can be overwhelming, but it can also be enormously stimulating and rewarding, as a form of collaboration, cross-pollination, brainstorming, serendipity, news gathering, and countless other activities provide one with a continuous connection to the broader world.
To get a handle on how people are using these next generation social media platforms, I ran an online survey this week which I pushed out across my Twitter followers, Friendfeed contacts, and a random sampling of my personal contacts via e-mail (the latter without much regard if they used these tools.) The results largely reflect many of the points above, but there were some interesting write-in results as well.
A lot of folks call these pull-based interaction systems, which value reputation and trust above all other things, Social Computing .
The generally accepted basic tenets of Social Computing are:
1) Innovation is moving from a top-down to bottom-up model 2) Value is shifting from ownership to experiences 3) Power is moving from institutions to communities
Consequently, it appears that the two-way Web is increasingly moving the power out of the hands of trusted institutions and into the hands of everyday users, who decide for themselves what products they should buy, whose information they should consume, what marketing they want. Thus, online communities are increasingly driving the vision of institutions because these technologies put the majority of power into the hands of communities, essentially take it away from existing formal social structures and organizations.
Harriet Swain Tuesday April 29, 2008 The Guardian The first step for anyone wanting to make the most of learning opportunities offered by new technology is to go shopping. Better still, get someone else to go shopping for you. Explain that you will need: a lightweight, web-enabled laptop in order to access essential learning tools, and be in constant touch with home, through emails and free telephone calls - for which they'll also need to throw in a headset. A printer will help you to get a good degree by avoiding library queues. You will also need a smartphone with a calendar application so that you can be on time for all lectures and seminars, meet assignment deadlines and remember great-aunt Dora's birthday. This will also allow you to text home to keep everyone informed of your movements, and to contact a taxi when stranded alone late at night and contemplating a lift home with a gang of youths and a pit bull terrier.
An MP3 player is vital, too, for listening to podcasts of lectures. This, of course, is only the start. You can supplement the list of essential kit depending on the advice of lecturers, and on what your friends get for Christmas.
Just because you know a lot more about what all this stuff does than whoever bought it for you doesn't mean you know it all. And although, theoretically, once you're online you need never move from your study bedroom, you should make at least one trip to the library to sign up for training on tricks for using searchable journal articles and other relevant literature, not to mention Google.
You should already have checked out your university's virtual learning environment. But physically attending an institution in Northumbria doesn't stop you virtually attending one in California, thanks to open educational resources.
After a few weeks you may find you can't remember when you last took a meal break, while all you recall from your time online is that YouTube clip of cats doing the conga.
Do remember that copying is a lot less impressive than collaboration. Check out what kind of plagiarism software your university uses and see if you can use it yourself to make sure you haven't inadvertently lifted your essay from somewhere else.
Then, lovely as your new laptop is, learn to leave it alone sometimes. Sometimes, you may be able to find better information in a book - or even from a person.
I am currently writing a report examining the flux in educational culture in particularly; The participation of young people in cyberspace constitutes play rather than work ( http:// www.goodworkproject.org/research/digital.htm ), believes Carrie James*. Student's opting to play rather than work is a tussel that teachers and lecturers challenge on a daily basis, often seeing the two as polar opposites, applying the edict of School/College/University as a place of work/study, however I am interested in, like the Good Play project, exploring this new sphere of interactive/interconnected new-media which young people inhabit and experimenting with pedagogies. The GoodPlay white paper establishes five core ethical issues relating to new medias and education which I intend to examine in my essay, these are;
Identity: exploring and 'playing' with different identities
Privacy: choosing when and how to share information to whom
Ownership/Authorship: understanding issues of control and credit for intellectual work
Credibility: being authentic when representing one's competence and motivations
Participation: accessing communities, understanding codes of conduct, and engaging proactively Interested in your thoughts on this topic and any suggested reading
I spend most of my time looking at networks from the perspective of learners and educators. I find my own personal network for learning far exceeds any other information source (including Google). As I begin to follow/read different practitioners and theorists, I begin to develop in my own understanding - especially if they represent a related, but not overly similar field. Media, news, video games, communication theory, philosophy, and other areas contribute to my understanding of the role of technology for learning. But learning is not confined to colleges and universities. As this article states , http://knowledge.insead.edu/contents/ibarra.cfm the ability to form networks is vital for achieving personal and career goals. When I suggest how important personal learning networks are, I often encounter the statement "I don't have time". As this author states: "If you want to succeed you need to make the time". She then goes on to suggest that we need to schedule time for forming networks so that it becomes habitual. I wonder how many educators regularly set aside time to consider the quality and diversity of their networks...
John McCrea, vice president of marketing at Plaxo, said Google's Friend Connect is "flipping the model" from walled gardens (such as Facebook) to a more open social Web:
Instead of widgetizing apps and bolting them on to some corporation's proprietary social graph, why not widgetize the social graph and socially enable any Web site or Web page?
That's a big, bold vision that Plaxo is 100 percent aligned with. As to Facebook and MySpace, it is certainly great to read the rhetoric they are now putting forth. The meme of data portability, open social Web, and bill of rights for users of the social Web has certainly caught on!
Alas, the devil is in the details, and we haven't seen any details (yet) from Facebook--just a Friday blog post signaling intent. It might be great, and we hope it is, but it's not clear what the actual substance will be.
With regard to MySpace, the rhetoric is over-the-top goodness, including a declaration of the end of the era of walled gardens. Alas, the details, as they currently exist, for their "Data Availability" effort fall far short of the vision many of us share for users having ownership of their data, control over who can see it, and freedom to take it with them, wherever they go across the social Web.
In the MySpace "Data Availability" model, the user can take their data for a walk anytime they want or to any place they want, but the data remains on a tether. There is no notion of copy, move, or sync. Participating sites must agree to have MySpace serve the data live in their page. That's a half-step wrapped in a beautiful flag of openness.
I think there is a conflict because we tend to try to fit a traditional curriculum into new technologies rather than identify how new technologies can enhance teaching and learning in a different way. A piece of research with 570 respondents in secondary schools show the width, breadth, skills, knowledge and understanding that the majority of these 11 - 16 year olds have in regard to the use of technology; blogs, Wikis, texting, emails, downloading, using social networking, designing their own websites and so on. Rather than seeing this as a threat which should be banned -why not try to use these skills to enhance our curriculum. Of course there needs to be rules and regulations about when and how they can be used-but given the right approach technology could really enhance what we and our pupils do. I recently saw a trainee teach plan and deliver a series of lessons based around storyboarding-using multi media software-the results were amazing as well as motivating for pupils who found traditional story writing less than motivating and in some cases tedious. The work was creative and innovative and her mentor could hardly believe the quality of the writing, imagination and work produced. I would have thought that it is ICT above all else that can really contribute to the personalised learning agenda. Thank Graham Jarvis
many different definitions for ePortfolios - common elements:
digital evidence owned by a learner;
structured and stored in some way that enables the evidence to found presented or shared with others [teachers, parents, peers, potential employers/HE/Training providers];
evidence being stored is likely to include:
reflections and thinking
A portfolio of digital evidence owned and managed by the learner?
What? – the ePortfolio Process Plan what you need to do Check and share your plan DO IT! Record evidence of what you have done or learnt Share and present evidence Select and link evidence ePortfolio Review and reflect on what you have done Recognise that something needs to be done or learnt
The ePortfolio process and Learning Gain experience by engaging in activities Encounter problems Recognise the need for learning Develop strategies to overcome the problem Experiment with strategies The ePortfolio Process Plan what you need to do Check and share your plan DO IT! Record evidence of what you have done or learnt Share and present evidence Select and link evidence ePortfolio Review and reflect on what you have done
Why might we want learners to follow the process?
Encourage learners to take an active part in their own learning? – encourage reflection, planning and dialogue about learning?
Support the move towards Personalised learning? - placing the learner at the centre of the learning process
Motivate and engage the learner?
Raise learner self esteem?
Support progression and provide opportunities for learners to develop a 'presentational' or self-marketing portfolio?
Provide somewhere for learners to store evidence to support assessment processes?
How to train teachers to support learners who are using ePortfolio processes
engagement – the climate I have access to the tools and technology I need I know how to – in my learning I know how to - technically I know why I need one School - You need one Employers - You need one Universities - You need one Parents - You need one Government Policy – You need one I will commit my time I want/need one Not valuable Too complicated Will not enjoy Have not got the time do I really need one learner
recognised the obvious enjoyment that students derive from sharing evidence, with others, of what they have done or achieved.
By talking with students about their ePortfolios, I have recognised the potential of the ePortfolio to provide opportunities for me to open up discussion with them about virtually any topic that I felt would benefit the learner.
observed an increase in ICT/multimedia skills, with respect to using ICT as a tool for a ‘real’ job, not an assignment, task or an exercise, something that will help them.
At the other end of the spectrum, I have watched older students develop a perception that ePortfolios meant additional work and that universities and employers do not value them.
learners have opportunities to reflect on what they have planned, done made, experienced or learnt
learners feel comfortable sharing their reflections
teachers value the ePortfolio process and are able to support to learners
Update WHOLE SCHOOL POLICIES so that they:
Integrate the ePortfolio process into the school’s ‘way of working’
Encourage departments to integrate the ePortfolio process into their schemes of learning;
Build in time and opportunities for staff to sit down and look at the ePortfolios
Provide a range of different audiences.
Use TOOLS and TECHNOLOGY:
that learners want to use
enables them to customise and take owner ship of their ePortfolio
that lets them modify the structure of their ePortfolio
that supports multimedia evidence
that provide creative opportunities
Make sure that LEARNERS:
know why you want them to compile an ePortfolio
Understand how it fits in with what they already do
Understand what they will need to do
Have the ICT and multimedia skills required
Train TEACHERS so that they - can support learners who are using ePortfolios all PARTNERS - parents, employers, HE etc understand and value the ePortfolio process Towards an Action Plan Plan an IMPLEMENTATION strategy – phased in from Yr 7 OR Yr 1