Thanks to Jay Cross for this short and sweet 2 minute video on ‘Network Fluency’. With the Internet and the connections we make through it we have enabled ourselves and our learning to take a new level.
“Connections begat connections. Soon everything was connected to everything else. A parallel universe sprang up alongside society, the Internet became an integral part of business and leisure: those who weren’t fluent and using the ‘net were marginalised. Not only that but everything happened faster and faster and you were required to proclaim your ‘network identity’ and figure out what you were going to do. And what you’re going to do is become fluent in the way networks work.”
Jay goes on to highlight three main areas where we need to be to become ‘fluent’: making sense of stuff, giving back, collaboration, and connection.
Online discussion boards, and associated activities that use them, can get a bit of a bad name sometimes either through inacitivty or lack of quality posts to abusive or bullying. I admit these are extremes of activity, but none the less still valid concerns for academics who want to try something new or different.
I’ve always tried to advocate the approach of ‘design an activity and then see which tools fits’ rather than ‘an activity written around a discussion board’. The latter implies it’s the tool driving the activity, the former implies the activity or learning outcome is matched to the most appropriate tool.
When setting discussion boards up I’ve always favoured posts being attributed to and identifiable to the person posting it – this helps to build personal relationships based on content and opinions, it also helps to encourage ownership and a responsible online etiquette (netiquette). But what about the option of allowing posts to be anonymous? Does this stop the discussion taking shape or progressing?
The paper, by Roberts and Rajah-Kanagasabai (2013) looks at the anonymity of posts and the ‘comfort’ of students to participate in anonymous discussions over those where they are identified. Continue reading →
I’m a Learning Technologist. Regular readers will know I have an interest in using, and understanding how we can use, Social Media and Social Networks with students and learning. It’s not just about helping students understand their ‘digital footprint’, or improving their digital literacy, or how their actions online can affect their employability. It is also about using the different tools and techniques for learning and Social Media and Social Networks are a valuable source of learning materials from many different cultures and backgrounds.
Which is why this book is of interest to me – ‘Using Social Media in the Classroom‘ by Megan Poore. Billed as a book that provides “an overview of different types of digital technologies” it is more important to me and how I work that it also covers more contextual and “constructive guidance on how to safely and intelligently use them as tools for learning”. All good stuff I hope you’ll agree.
This quote from Megan is key to the understanding of the benefits for communication, collaboration, participation and socialisation of, and in, education:
“One of the most exciting features of social media for education is precisely their socialness. They allow us to break out of the paradigm of the monolithic learner into the more intricate and complex world of constructivist, active, and situated pedagogies.” (p. 8)
Here Stephen writes with his daughter Juliette Heppell, herself a teacher at Lampton Academy in London, and this short page outlines the main events on using Facebook with students, and the do/ don’t mentality we all ought to consider. Examples include:
Do … build a separate teacher page for your “teacher” presence.
Do … keep your teacher and personal page very separate
Do … post pictures of school/lessons/trips – even diagrams you put on the board (snap them with your phone and post them) – it reminds students that you are there, generates a pride in the school and reminds them that this is not a vaccuous space!
Don’t … ‘friend’ students yourself – not even as your “teacher” presence.
Don’t … accept complete ignorance of Facebook as an excuse for dangerous school policies like blanket bans – instead offer to be an action researcher, and try it out for a year.
The full list covers much more than this, and has a ‘healthy’ caveat of “don’t ever think you can refine and evolve these simple notes without talking to your students – they will know of problems and dangers you are unaware of, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t model safe behavior for them.” A great resource and one you should be mindful of.
While this article is a good summary of art and design use of ‘studio space’ and how Facebook is a better medium than most traditional VLEs, it highlights the basic conflict of internal (owned) vs. external (unregulated) tools while offering a brief insight into how other disciplines ‘could’ use the social network (not for networking purposes). The study found that “the interviewees in this investigation perceive educational benefits based on the communicative potential of Facebook. The diversity in the form and pattern of use posses less of a challenge for not all Facebook activities promote communication and it would be possible to focus on those that do.”
It continues by saying that “in addition, it may not be possible to convince all students who perceive Facebook only as a social space, that there are educational benefits in exploring what this SNS [Social Networking Site] offers in terms of interests groups and other useful information” and that a dedicated student induction (oh, another one?) would help address concerns over how it should be used on a granular level.
Official citation for this article is:
Souleles, N. 2012. Perceptions of undergraduate Graphic Design students on the educational potential of Facebook. Research in Learning Technology20: 17490. http://dx.doi.org/10.3402/rlt.v20i0.17490
This article is published in the AJET (Australasian Journal of Educational Technology) and has a good amount of data to support the assumption that students would use Facebook as part of their learning:
93% of surveyed students had an active Facebook account.
78% anticipated that a Facebook page would facilitate their learning by increased interaction with students and instructors.
81% engaged with the Facebook page at some stage during their studies.
76% would recommend Facebook for future cohorts courses while only 51% thought that it was effective (effective at what though?).
The question I have is how are the learning materials structured to students who did not have a Facebook account (those who did not want one for various personal reasons) were not unduly restricted in their learning?
The article states that Facebook as a “learning aid suggests that it has the potential to promote collaborative and cooperative learning” but further study is required to investigate how it can enhance the learning outcome.
Official citation for this article is:
Irwin, C., Ball, L., Desbrow, B. & Leveritt, M. (2012). Students’ perceptions of using Facebook as an interactive learning resource at university. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 28(7), 1221-1232. http://www.ascilite.org.au/ajet/ajet28/irwin.html
Another good academic journal article on a study into the “effects of teacher self-disclosure via Facebook on anticipated college student motivation, affective learning, and classroom climate”. The study concludes that “certain forms of face-to-face self-disclosure can have disastrous effects on teacher credibility” (i.e. personal details, photos, etc) and that “teachers can strategically reveal pictures, quotes, and personal information that present them as competent and trustworthy instructors who have the students’ best interests in mind”.
Of course, this isn’t news to most of us – apart from keeping the student-teacher relationship purely professional in a classroom and teaching/learning environment we must replicate this in any online environment, social network, email exchange, IM chat, etc). In saying that some forms of self-disclosure by the teacher could help foster a closer professional relationship it must be argued that some forms of disclosure (the paper does not give examples here but I assume to mean some personal details that students to not need to know as opposed to overtly personal details, bordering on the kind of things that constitutes an employer disciplinary hearing) could harm the relationship: “students reported that teachers should self-disclose appropriate information.”
Official citation for this article is:
Joseph P. Mazer, Richard E. Murphy & Cheri J. Simonds (2007): I’ll See You On “Facebook”: The Effects of Computer-Mediated Teacher Self-Disclosure on Student Motivation, Affective Learning, and Classroom Climate, Communication Education, 56:1, 1-17. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03634520601009710
This post is summed up nicely in this quote (but please read the whole post as there is much more here):
“In the main, the Facebook page, which is run by and for the students without tutor involvement, is centred on support for learning and skills development and in every case I saw, answers to problems that emerged from discussions were factually correct. In addition, the students offer one another impressive levels of support and encouragement. From the evidence of their own Facebook group, then, students are not unwilling to work and learn collaboratively.”
But what of the etiquette and/or training the student were given to using these systems? Are they instructed or left to their own devices? Are they given an outline of how it should be used, and when and for what purpose? This then raises the question, for me anyway, should we use Facebook at all, but if we do how at do we go to prescribe what & ow I is used.
“I am left wondering therefore if there is an unspoken etiquette at play here – a set of norms which, in attempting to use social networks for tutor:cohort interaction, we as educators are somehow transgressing?”
This paper is an “attempt to use a Facebook group as a course website, serving as a platform for delivering content and maintaining interactions among the students and between the students and the lecturer.” The paper deals quite strongly in the student experience and student satisfaction of the use of Facebook, but this does not mean that it is an academic success, it just means they liked it. You can’t even look at results from class tests or end of course assessment to see if it’s a success either, there are too many variables to be included to know whether it was a good cohort or the technology applied that made the difference.
The Facebook Groups was “designed in a way that encourages participation and interaction on every single post uploaded to the group” but this in itself does not mean learning has been achieved, does it? The paper does conclude that the learning “environment itself is not solely responsible for the creation of learning dynamics”.
In the fast-paced world of Internet start-ups and social media companies Pinterest has been around for a couple of years already. It has however gained a lot of interest in the past few months after high profile names start using it, and a slightly dubious legal issue it needs to address (more later).
But, what is Pinterest? Well … “Pinterest is a virtual pinboard to organize and share the things you love.” Does that make sense? I should know better than to turn to Wikipedia for help but this does explain it quite well – Pinterest is
“a pinboard-styled social photo sharing website that is designed for users to create and manage theme-based image collections such as events, interests, hobbies and more.”
You must first ask (and wait) for an invitation. Once you get one you can sign-up and get started. The welcome email provides some helpful netiquette tips too, these being:
Be Creative. The best pinboards mix products, art, recipes and images from all across the web. Try not to pin everything from a single source.
Give Credit. If you blog about an item you found on Pinterest, it’s nice to credit your fellow pinners by linking back to the original pin.”
Here is a great video introduction to Pinterest too:
But what of the issue about copyright? There have been some articles and blog posts about this in recent weeks (The Reason I Just Deleted My Pinterest Account and ) and here is why – the Pinterest T&Cs state that by pinning the image you are saying you have the copyright or intellectual property on that image.
Here’s another quote from the volume of stories about Pinterest – you can make your own mind up (as I am doing):
“While we maintain that sharing a link on Facebook (praised by content producers) is the same as sharing a link on Pinterest (feared by content producers), it should be noted that for people leaving the site… the proverbial cat is out of the bag and any content a user puts on the site may continue to display and be re-pinned, even after their account is deleted.” – Pinterest: what happens when you close your account
“To further avoid more of these copyright issues and encourage users to “be authentic” without having to worry about their creative content being sold by the site, Pinterest also deleted a Pin Etiquette principle telling users “not to use Pinterest purely as a tool for self-promotion”.” – Pinterest Terms Of Service Get Updated
Ignoring these legal ‘hiccups’ (?) how could Pinterest be used in education and the classroom?
Plan: create a board for each lesson, project, event, assignment, etc, and use this with students who can re-pin and add these resources to their own boards.
Inspire: follow boards created by other users (and follow them too), revisit your boards (especially if you allow others to collaborate with you on it), you’ll soon find other resources you weren’t aware of before.
Share: with Pinterest being a ‘social’ network the whole sharing thing is a given, it will only be of use if you share. As with the lesson plan, encouraging students (and faculty staff) to create and share resources will benefit those with whom it is shared.
Structure: use different boards for different subjects, projects, events, activities, etc. Organise them properly at the start and it will be easier to maintain, pin, and share.
Visualise: use the boards as a graphical diary (blog) for the project, print them out, tag and pin people, videos, audio, etc and make it interactive.
Collaborate: invite the students to collaborate on your boards, ask them to contribute to the board and to the project, subject, etc.
Further links, resources, and quotes can be found on the Mashable website.
What do you think, is there a future for Pinterest and classroom activities (faculty and/or student)? Are you using it already, want to share you experiences, then please leave a comment with links to your Pinterest boards and/or write-up of your project.
As always, there’s an “infographic for that”, and here is one you can find on the TechCrunch website.
This guide is worthy of more than just a re-tweet this morning, so I’ve linked it here.
And for those not interested in reading the whole report (shame on you!) here are a couple of choice quotes from Rachel;
“What if we opened up courses for student reviews on our site? New students would be able to view reviews on classes when trying to make their selections, especially for general education courses. Courses with great reviews will likely receive higher enrollments, without any additional cost to market these classes. Administrators would likely worry about the classes that would receive poor reviews – but whether you enable this feature or not, these conversations are happening elsewhere, likely on sites you have no control over.”
“Social media comprises of activities that involve socializing and networking online through words, pictures and videos. Social media is redefining how we relate to each other as humans and how we as humans relate to the organizations that serve us. It is about dialog – two way discussions bringing people together to discover and share information.”
Admittedly the guide is slightly old now, written in 2008, it talks about “the two most popular social networking communities are Facebook and MySpace” which we know is not the case as it is Facebook or Twitter now (reports of 10 million users leaving MySpace a month have been seen recently) but it should not be discounted just because of it’s age. We may be better at thinking and using Social Media than we were three years ago, and the world of Social Media and Social Networks have changed with Smart Phones and Tablets allowing us to be more mobile with “when and where” activities, but we all have a responsibility to check and re-check our online activity, individually or as an organisation.
I’m not a big fan of ‘Top …’ lists, but I do like to organise my thoughts and have something to look back over to help me think and reflect on what I’ve done, why I did it, and sometimes what I can do better next time.
You can’t deny that if you’re involved in the Internet you ought to have tried Twitter by now. As I’ve said in previous posts, and presentations, it’s not about how others use it, it’s about how YOU use it … and it isn’t something you’ll master overnight but rather something that will grow as you find your feet and find a purpose for it.
Well, here is a great presentation from Steve Wheeler on ‘The Art of Twitter‘ as he thinks that;
“… the time has now come to introduce a set of guidelines for Twitter – ‘Twettiquette’ if you like”
Using simple terminology that we can all understand, this guide is another great way to introduce newbies to Twitter, and for those of us who consider ourselves proficient (or semi-proficient) in it’s use it’s an amusing recap on what we already do.
[Full credit to Steve for coining the phrase 'Twettiquette']
Skype is one of those tools I have had installed but rarely used. Over the past few weeks I seem to have been using it nearly everyday; I don’t know what happened but all of a sudden it’s become more popular with the people I work with.
Whether it’s a simple chat message (instead of the email or “walk down the corridor and open my door”) or a full hour-long conversation, it’s become my new best friend. Or could be my new best friend.
The thing is;
I can put an email to one side and deal with it when I have finished whatever it is I’m doing at the moment.
I can filter my phone calls if I think the call may take too long and distract me from my current task.
I can have a quick chat in my office but you can clearly see I’m busy and, more often than not, volunteer to come back when I’m not so busy.
But with Skype;
You can see if I’m online and contact me. It’s hard to ignore that constant ‘bing’ing coming through the speakers.
You can see I’ve put myself as ‘away’ but everybody knows this means leave me alone but still sends the call or message through.
So, is there an etiquette to using Skype, for both parties? Well, thankfully the folks over at TechCrunch have come up with these suggestions;
It’s not a conversation until both sides are engaged.
“The best way to start a Skype conversation is to message something like “are you free?” If I respond then we’re all set. If not, don’t take it personally. And don’t start firing off whatever you want to say anyway. Instant messaging is both synchronous and asynchronous.”
Don’t abuse the ‘Enter’ button.
“The default Skype settings are lots of notification messages all the time. Every time you hit enter it beeps my computer. That’s really annoying. Get whole sentences, paragraphs even, down in the box before you hit enter. People will appreciate it.”
Don’t just jump into a phone call.
“It’s polite to send a chat message first saying “online? time for a quick Skype call?” It’s annoying when the Skype phone starts ringing randomly.”
Don’t assume confidentiality.
“The worst thing I ever did was Skype message someone, in a rush, to confirm a story. And it turns out that poor person was using his laptop to give a presentation to a group of co-workers. And my Skype message popped up on the screen for everyone to see.”
If in doubt, make contact first through more traditional media and then we can Skype if appropriate, and if I’m available.
Skype also have a section on Etiquette on their website – Skype Etiquette – which is fairly standard, almost like any corporate list of what not to do at work and on work computers.
A few other resources I found about etiquette include;