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Deploying social software in learning and teaching environments

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Presentation for EDEN 2006. Held in Barcelona 25th to 28th October 2006.

Presentation for EDEN 2006. Held in Barcelona 25th to 28th October 2006.

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  • 1. deploying social software in learning and teaching environments: the implications for distance education
      • Dr Steven Warburton
      • King’s College London
      • [email_address]
  • 2.
    • distance learning – social software’s killer ap? (Anderson, T. 2005)
    • social software – distance learning's killer ap? (Downes, S. 2005)
  • 3. social tools social bookmarks IRC blogs discussion fora social networks instant messaging wikis collaboration social recommendation Blogs are just one of a number of social tools
  • 4. why social software and why in education?
    • social nature of learning
        • social-constructivism
        • situated learning
        • dialogue and negotiated meaning
        • collaboration, community and creativity
    • socio-technical and cultural changes
        • ambient technology, ubiquitous computing
        • shift from community to networks
        • web-natives, digital natives, net generation
        • web 2.0
            • read/write web -> consumer becomes producer
            • complexity, emergent behaviour and emergent classifications
            • the rise of social tools, sharing and syndication
  • 5. blogs: individual, personal and informal
    • syntactical form:
    • chronological: they perform time
    • brief, frequent posts
    • open to comments
    • syndicated (rss)
    • linked (blogroll and trackback)
    • semantic content:
    • multiple classification schemes by content
    • filter vs. personal types
  • 6. why blog?
    • internet blogging
        • self promotion
        • opinion
        • dating
        • community presence and participation
        • everyone else is, so why not?
    • educational blogging
        • what is the potential for emerging technologies in [distance] education?
        • how do we understand and negotiate the meaning of these tools?
        • do they support our underpinning educational values?
    • inherent tensions:
    • formal and informal
    • individual and group
    • freedom and censorship
    • autonomy and control
    • public and private
    • identity and trust
    • authentic and inauthentic
  • 7. versatility of blogs
    • providing a rich set of writing activities: writing as a process of self discovery
    • supporting conversational learning
    • creating or augmenting social presence
    • encouraging reflective practice (through an inherent reflective, informal tone)
    • developing a ‘critical voice’
    • providing a record or portfolio of learning
    • developing a community of inquiry
    • creating learning networks, social networks
    • developing and understanding ones identity as a learner (autonomy and ownership)
    • tension between self and reader necessitates learning to trust and understand ones own perspectives
  • 8. a case study a fully online distance learning MA in War Studies that attracts mature professionals from a variety of educational backgrounds
  • 9.
    • VLE – institutional space
    • bounded
    • content based
    • assessment driven
    • discussion (structured):
    • critical discourse -> critical thinking
    • blogs – personal space
    • open
    • dialogue driven
    • autonomous and reflective
    • aggregation -> community
    • journal metaphor -> learner identity
    the online learning environment
  • 10. tutor/course blog student blog student blog personal aggregator: “river of news” external ‘expert’ blogs community network
  • 11.
    • Questions?
    • will students blog?
    • how often will they blog?
    • how does this compare to internet or free-form blogging ( style and voice )?
    • can blogs facilitate community formation (through augmenting social presence ) ?
    • Framework:
    Garrison, Anderson and Archer (2000) research instruments: content analysis [blogs], questionnaires and semi-structured interviews.
  • 12. were blogs successful?
    • low threshold: easy to use both conceptually and in terms of technical usability
      • “ easier than falling off a banana boat.”
      • “ i also thought that the blogging was easy to use and an interesting experience as I never blogged before.”
  • 13. on first analysis
    • a range of bloggers from enthusiastic (20%) to occasional (30%) to non existent (50%)
        • similar to other reported studies: Walker 2003; Brooks, Nichols and Pribe 2005; Kruger 2005; Ramsden 2006.
    • blogs contained indicators of social presence yet they were often marked by formal (and lengthy) commentaries on the course materials
  • 14. tensions
  • 15.
    • finding purpose?
      • “ i have never blogged before. I knew that there are such a sites and tools, but it was useless for me in my normal life. I don’t have time to write something, what is not needed by anybody.”
    • the pragmatic student approach
      • “ i, like many others in the program, have a very busy schedule and tend to prioritize what needs tending as not all of it can be done right away. The blog, in comparison to the reading, discussion, essays and group projects, seems to be the lower priority. "
  • 16. private and public realms
    • “ i prefer to use the discussion boards. It's a privacy thing - I'm not comfortable broadcasting my thoughts on the web through my blog.”
    • “ no, not really, it's just getting over the creapiness [sic] of the entire blog thing”
  • 17. students struggle with blogs
    • time and assessment pressures:
      • drive pragmatic decision making in using blogs. students are strategic in their learning approaches
    • informality:
      • authors are uneasy with the confessional and tone of blogs (impression management, see Goffman 1959)
    • genre:
      • are they academic notebooks, diaries or a social space for free expression?
    • [educational] context:
      • implies assessment, risk, exposure - disrupting the balance of intrinsic and extrinsic motivational factors that appear to drive ‘internet bloggers’
  • 18. understandings
  • 19. contextual negotiation and interpretation
    • blogs (indeed social software) mean different things to different people in different cultural contexts
    • the utility of blogs (like the internet cf. Hine 2000) is created through a process of negotiation and interpretation in specific contexts of use
    • blogging evangelists often draw on the rhetoric of the internet – democracy and emancipation
      • yet we need to understand the specificities or the demands of education i.e. examine technology in use
    Hine, C. (2000) Virtual ethnography. Sage London.
  • 20.  
  • 21. learning spaces: institution <-> internet
    • student appropriation of blogs at Warwick
        • institutional but they blog about politics and each other -> flame wars, problems with censorship arise
    • Warwick blogs exist at the intersection of educational and internet space
        • blurring of formal and informal boundary
    • within this context how are these tools used?
        • personal commentaries, shared planning, opinions/critiques/rants, social contact and self identity
    • finding value in blogging is not straightforward - despite the optimism for their use in education
  • 22.
    • genre analysis and blogs
      • “ genres are the intellectual scaffolds on which community-based knowledge is constructed”
    • misunderstanding blogging as genre
      • “ i don't quite get the reason behind the Blog. I write my own notes as I go through the course, mostly mind maps of either the course material or ideas.”
      • “ no. I haven't distilled the point of blogging yet with regard to this course.”
    (Berkenkotter and Huckin, 1995)
  • 23. solutions?
    • blogging as remediation:
      • “ the language of cultural interfaces is largely made up from elements of other already familiar cultural forms” (Manovich, 2001)
      • familiarise students with the genre by relating blogs to antecedents such as (learning) journals, diaries and note-cards
    • force purpose:
      • remove the discussion boards (remove VLE?) and dispel confusion over learning spaces (personalised learning approach?)
    • negotiate purpose:
      • direct and guide through example (tutor blogs, tone and style)
      • engage students in articulating and defining use
      • encourage students to move from lurking -> active participation
    • uncover the selfish motives for blogging
      • we need to uncover how students assemble the various technical possibilities that add up to their own internet or educational experience
      • blogs become portfolios and part of the lifelong learning agenda
  • 24. Published in The New Yorker September 12 th , 2005 By Alex Gregory the end
        • Steven Warburton
        • King’s College London
        • [email_address]
        • http://warburton.typepad.com