Category Archives: Web 2.0

David Hopkins, Learning Technologist

Digital story of the Nativity

Yes I know it’s June, but this is still a good video: how social media, web and mobile would’ve impacted the Nativity story – as told through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google, Wikipedia, Google Maps, GMail, Foursquare, Amazon, etc:

YouTube: The Digital story of the Nativity

I originally used this as part of my presentation to the BU Careers Forum – Presentation: Social Media, where myself and Debbie Sadd were asked to follow-up our work on students and student digital footprints and “inform students on the benefits and disadvantages on social media [like] how students should monitor Facebook with potential employers, using Linked In, Twitter, etc, and how to use these to create an advantage rather than disadvantaging their appearance.” The video formed an introduction to social media and how it has become, for some, integral to every-day actions and situations (Facebook updates, tweets, etc).

Making Smartphones work

I love my smartphone, my iPhone. In addition to this, I love my iPad, but I’m not as enamoured by it as I am with my phone. Since I got my iPad I have found myself using my laptop even less (it’s only 2 years old so not, by any means, old or slow or a cumbersome weighty block of plastic with a tiny screen). But they could both be better.

Considering how I (we) use these new mobile devices I am surprised that there is less integration between apps. Let me explain:

When I click a link in an email it opens up the Safari web browser. Simple and easy to understand. But when I click a link in an email, or on a webpage, to a Facebook update, to a tweet, or to something on LinkedIn or something else that I use an App to manage, the Safari web browser is used. I don’t use the browser on my phone (or iPad) to use those services, use the app I’ve installed and configured for my account(s). I am not logged in to the website version of those services (and many others) but I am logged into the App.

Why can’t the OS be configured to allow it to ‘learn’ from the apps I have installed. Let’s have them learn that a link to something on Twitter (tweet, profile, hashtag, etc) means I want to use the App and not the web browser?

Perhaps this is just ‘limited’ to iOS devices? Perhaps to get what I want I need to think outside the ‘Apple’ box and go Android or Windows … ?

Or have I missed something so fundamental to iOS and it can already do this? Comments below please if you agree with me, have a handy hint to help me sort this out, or just want to gloat because your (smart)phone already does this.


Foursquare: getting the students to go outside?

A recent study by the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth found that almost every Higher Education Institution in the US is on Facebook and 84% of them are also on Twitter, and are using them to connect with the students to tell them “about events and meetings and resource centers with Facebook or Twitter. With Foursquare, they can actually get students to go to them.”

I signed up to Foursquare just under a year ago and am enjoying it (even if I don’t get out much!). But what I have seen is that friends, colleagues, peers, etc are interested in locations and (when linked in with other geo-location based services like the photo manipulation and sharing app Foursquare can come alive very very quickly.

One of the things I have been trying to work out is how we can utilise the current fashion for this type of geo-caching activity and badge/mayor-hunting passion for the students, to get them outside and engaged in something – like Induction week?

“Foursquare uses the geo-locator technology built into smartphones to turn exploring physical places — like, say, a college campus and the surrounding town — into a virtual game by encouraging users to ‘check in’ virtually at places they visit in real life. They can leave virtual notes, or ‘tips’, about a place for future visitors.”

By checking in to venues you score points, and if you check in more often than others over a time period (2 months I think?) you could become the ‘Mayor’ and ‘own’ the place (until someone checks in more times than you). Some places (mostly restaurants) offer special deals to the current Mayor, which gives an incentive to return and check in again to see if you can steal the mayorship. Foursquare confirms someone’s presence through the phone’s geo-locator – if you are not deemed to be close enough then the check-in doesn’t count.



So what does this report (link above) suggest as ways to encourage students to use Foursquare?

  • Texas Agricultural and Mechanical College held a Foursquare scavenger hunt, giving students a sequence of clues for places on campus to check in. The reward? A 30-percent discount at the campus bookstore.
  • At Waukesha they have entertained the idea of using Foursquare to encourage student involvement in extracurricular activities, while at the same time strengthening ties with local businesses. “Maybe if a student checks in at the association for student activities office, then they could be eligible for a discount or coupon for a local store/restaurant]. Studies have shown the positive effects of engagement with campus life on student retention and success, she says. “At its core Foursquare allows you to tap in to student engagement.”

The report also highlights the downside of this kind of activity – the time taken to set it up and to monitor it:

“A staff member usually spends three to four hours a week monitoring and updating Foursquare. Other events such as the scavenger hunt, required several full days of effort from the social media team, the business development team, and students.”

The report also send s a cautious note to anyone thinking of utilising Foursquare: “If students are not already active on Foursquare, it will be challenging for student affairs staff to generate buy-in for a new social media tool.”

However, Foursquare is aiming itself at the student market with the availability of four specific badges only open to ‘branded pages‘ created by education establishments (US only at this stage I think). “Several campus officials talked about the possibility of allowing students to redeem badges for campus bucks — just like a café might offer free coffee to its virtual mayor.” This sounds good, but in order to make it work there has to be the incentive, whether it is financial or other. I have heard of someone using Foursquare as a virtual register for their classes (you can create your own unique check-in point if it doesn’t already exist like a specific room), but this is heavily dependent on each and every students having a mobile device capable of using the system.

Are you using Foursquare for anything other than the morning coffee fix? Do you think you have a good idea for how we can use Foursquare in and out of the classroom? Please leave your thoughts and ideas below.


Foursquare in education and the classroom #Foursquare

I signed up to Foursquare a while ago, and then did nothing with it. I couldn’t see the point, and am still struggling to see it even now. I like it, I sign-in to various places as I go about my travels, I’m even the Mayor of a couple too. But why?

Firstly, let’s look at Foursquare and what it is. According to Business Insider Foursquare is ;

“… primarily for letting your friends know where you are and figuring out where they are. Secondarily, it’s for collecting points, prize ‘badges’, and eventually, coupons, for going about your everyday business.”

This is really designed for people who are mobile and have, or have access to, a smart phone that enables them to install the Foursquare application on. But hang on, is that it … just let your friends now where you are and find out where they are? Do we really need this level of intimacy? The Public Relations Blogger writes;

“Unlike other social media tools like Facebook and Twitter, Foursquare is focused primarily on sharing places we’ve been and that we would maybe recommend to others.”

And there is the crux of the system … “sharing places” and “recommend to others”. This is where a business is going to use it; get your visitors to sign-in when they come, leave a tip about services, product, etc and share with their friends and anyone else who is in range. Businesses can now invite visitors by putting a ‘special’ offer on their place for visitors or the ‘Mayor’ of the place, thus enticing people back and back to get that elusive badge.

The above link to the Public Relations Blogger has details on the different aspects of Foursquare; these are;

  • Check-ins
  • Mayors
  • Points
  • Badges
  • Friends
  • Tips & To-Dos

Here are some images from the iPhone Foursquare app:

no images were found

Another great way to explain the system is in video form … so here’s a great one from the folks at

So, that’s covered the “what is …”, now what about the “why” question? There are obvious benefits for using it for field trips as it can integrate with Google Earth, so students can remember where they’ve been, take notes of the different elements of the field trip you set them, etc. You could create a location-based tour where you and the students check in to different venues you’ve mapped out, ahead of time, with a view to increase their awareness of where the library is, where the student services or counsellors can be found, etc.

I have yet to see a real purpose to using Foursquare in the classroom, as that is too limiting geographically, but for a wider application the Institution could use it to xxx – Harvard University have special badges you can acquire by checking into so many locations around campus and they “announced in January that it would become the first university to use Foursquare to help students explore its campus” (source

Further examples of Foursquare and how it could be used in the classroom and education can be found on this link: 30+ Ways to Use Foursquare In Education. While it’s great to read other people’s blog posts on what they’re doing, or intend to do with the service, let’s not forget the owners of the system; here’s what they Foursquare saying on thir blog;

“Foursquare is making a concerted effort to lure more college students to the service this fall. At least 10 schools have launched branded pages in the past few weeks and foursquare has begun a search for campus representatives to help evangelize the service. Now they’ve launched a series of five college-themed badges that can be unlocked at select schools across the country.”
Foursquare: Celebrate Back to School season with five new foursquare badges

It seems Foursquare is going to be better for marketers and students to ‘play’ with than for teachers and educators to use effectively, although there are some good uses starting to come out of the woodwork. How the system develops will determine how well it ‘fits’ with the needs of geo-locating places and people, but I think it is something to watch for the future, after all one million users can’t all be wrong?

Are you using Foursquare, have you found a way to utilise it in your teaching, or are you (like me) tagging the world around you to see how many badges you can uncover? Please share your Foursquare experience by leaving a comment.

Infographic WordPress World

With figures like “13.4 million downloads of WordPress 3.0” or “10,935 Available Plugins” andthat WordPress “powers nearly 8.5% of all websites on the net”, this is one of the better infographics I have  seen for a while.

I cannot find the original author, but thanks go to Robin Good for pointing it out.

Click to enlarge

All of a Twitter … how are social web tools used in University classrooms

I am trying to steer clear of blog posts that keep talking about Twitter, and how we can use it in a classroom setting, but this one (from the University of New South Wales) is one of the better ones I’ve seen recently that have the academic staff talking about how they are using it.

“It is the very interactive nature of social web tools that academics are finding so useful in the classroom.”

“What you can do with the Web 2.0 … is that you can deliver material gradually and you can allow students to interact with your course materials in a very different way.”

“Those sorts of tools are really interesting because they plug in to the  open web, which is what I’m really interested in; tools that allow us not to work in a walled-garden environment so much … but to work in the open world so that anyone can look at what we’re doing, if we wanted that, or we could restrict who the outsiders were, or we could invite outsiders in, or we could connect to anywhere on the web.”


Many thanks to mbogle for showing this video.

Video: The State of The Internet

This video shares many facts and figures, and one I was most surprised / impressed with was (as of November 2009) Facebook had over 30,000 servers!!


JESS3 / The State of The Internet from JESS3 on Vimeo.

Watch this and other fascinating and inspiring video infographics over on the Speckyboy website.

David Hopkins

Policies for Staff use of Social Media and Social Networks

Does your employer / Institution have a policy for the accepted use, by staff, for how they can use Social Media (Twitter, Facebook, SlideShare, YouTube, WordPress, etc)? Is it limited to how you can use it for work, or in work, or does it cover your usage outside of work and how you talk/post about what you do at work? Are you allowed to use images/logo of your employer/Institution in your work?

Here a are a few I found;

  • DePaul UniversitySocial Media Guidelines: Social Media Working Group. There are some good resources here, especially interesting to me is the section on ‘personal site guidelines’ that outlines what an employee can do in their personal space, but based on work at the Institution.
  • SAP – Social Media Guidelines 2009. Again, some great resources, and well worded reasoning, on what and staff members can do on networks like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc in a professional manner about their work, but not linked or attributed officially to their employer.
  • Colorado State University[Draft] Social Media Policy.This covers all official accounts on Social Networks that represent CSU rather than covering staff use of Social media for personal reasons based on what they work on.
  • Law Schools on NingSocial Media Best Practices for Law Schools. This Ning site has a good draft/example policy for Law Schools to use as a starting point as well as a link to The Legal Watercooler Blog post by Heather Morse-Milligan on whether you actually need a policy to cover social media use or not? Heather’s post is actually very good in that it outlines 5 reasons why you don’t need a policy to govern your staff and their use of Social Media and Social Networks.
  • Southeast Missouri State UniversitySocial Media Information. Why is it only US University’s that are open about their policies? Anyway, this really only covers Twitter, Facebook and Blogs for departmental uses.
  • Washington State UniversitySocial Networking Guidelines. A list of official Twitter and Facebook accounts and pages, but the link to the ‘Reference, Social Media & Web Tools’ page was unfortunately broken at the time I looked (June 9th, 2010).

In the corporate world it seems they are quicker to sort this out. The Online Database of Social Media Policies from large multi-national companies (including the BBC, Reuters, Microsoft, and Kodak, to name a few) has some very good (and some bad) examples. Check them out.

This list, produced by Michael Willits, is also a good place to start. He has broken the list into different categories based on the type of organisation. Again, take a look.

One thing I have found during my search for examples is that, as we all know, the world of  Social Media and Social Networks are constantly changing, so any ‘policy’ needs constant attention and updates and, in actual fact, should be thought of as a working document rather than a set-in-stone policy.

TwitterAbout the same time as writing this (I started it back in April 2010) Alan Cann (@AJCann) was asking for examples and links on Twitter. If you have any to share please post them as a comment below and I’ll alert Alan so we can share and share alike!

Post Updates:

A much larger list of these, and more, is available here thanks to David Fleet: 57 Social Media Policy Examples and Resources

Podcasts and Supervision (2.0)

There are some choice quotes I want to raise to you this morning from the article on the Times Higher Education website  “Podcasts can lead us into the world of Supervision 2.0“.

Under the banner heading of ” exciting technological developments that can transform our learning environment and bring multiple benefits to all university students” the article continues to demonstrate and discuss the use of audio technology in aspects of education.

“For underconfident and inexperienced students, podcasts are an opportunity to connect theory and practice, thinking and doing. The advantages are clear: podcasts are inexpensive to produce. They build community and add emotion to education.”

“Academics are developing podcasts to deliver audio feedback on assignments and I conduct course reviews through sound. Instead of ticking boxes, I ask students to comment on what they have learnt. I create a mix from their words and upload it to a centralised portal so they can monitor the thoughts of their colleagues as they write the final assignments. It is a sonic snapshot of their semester and helps me to improve future learning opportunities.”

“Podcasting offered an evocative method for talking through intellectual options.”

“The literature on auditory cultures and sonic media is revealing complex, intricate and dynamic oscillations between hearing, listening and learning.”

Thanks to Steve Wheeler for point this out this morning.

Video: The Future Internet and Web 3.0 / Semantec Web

This is great, the use of animated flip-charts is a nice touch.

However, if you watch this from the beginning try looking at it like this … the first 1 minute and 50 seconds (or there about) sounds like a trailer for some new disaster movie that will see Keanu Reeves save the human race from the marauding machines. It’s nothing of the sort, it’s just the Web 3.0 or Semantic Web being explained. Stick with it, it’s good.