I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how Twitter is not simply about sharing information – it’s much more about sharing our collective human experiences. When we read tweets, we read lives – or at least the parts that someone chooses to share. Don’t take that for granted.
I will teaching two open online courses next semester, and I have been brainstorming a number of ways to do things a bit differently. In both courses, students will go through the process of forming their own personal learning networking. “Their own” is key here and is something I have been struggling with. In the past, I have just given students a list of people from within my network, but I am beginning to think that this practice may be problematic. First, is this not a bit contrived? Or is it? Is this an accurate way of representing how learning networks form? Maybe. I am not sure. Second, does this not just lead to replicating well-formed, existing networks? Or, does this contribute to the dreaded “echo chamber” effect?
Sure, I know that if I give a short list of network contacts to my students, they are not by any means going to form the same exact network that I have, but I would bet these would be very similar. And I am not by any means trying to criticize the members of my own PLN. In fact, I wouldn’t be connected to you if I did not feel that it was a positive connection. But I am curious of what I am missing. I want to understand personal learning networks not only by the connections that form, but also by those that are absent.
So, help me out here. What if I gave each of my students a single point on the the network, a single individual (probably via a blog address), and made all attempts to keep these points as unrelated as possible (yes, quite difficult in our x degrees of separation world). What networks would students form? How similar would these PLNs be? And what could we learn about how educational PLNs form?
Most importantly, if I used this approach with my students, would this in any way disadvantage their learning opportunities?
It appears that some Canadian voters are using Facebook and other websites to swap votes, also known as vote pairing.
Vote pairing (also known as vote swapping) happens when a voter in one riding agrees to vote tactically for a less-preferred candidate or party who has a greater chance of winning in their riding, in exchange for a voter from another district voting tactically for the candidate the first voter prefers, because that candidate has a greater possibility of winning in that riding.
The CBC and the Star are reporting that Elections Canada officials are watching these groups closely and trying to determine the legality of these arrangements. Vote pairing appears to go back to the American election of 2000, and has proven to be legal under the American legal system.
It will be interesting to see if vote swapping will have any effect on the coming election. In any case, its mere possibility is an interesting commentary on the potential of social networks and self-organizing groups on important matters of politics and governance. It also demonstrate that our current electoral system is badly in need of reform.
I ran across Yammer tonight. From the demo video found on the home page, Yammer looks much like Twitter but your potential network is defined by your organization’s domain (like Google Sites). I see later that Yammer is billed as “Twitter for Enterprise“.
So I signed up using my uregina.ca domain. Looks like I’m the first and only one there. One is a lonely number when you are dealing with social networks. :-(
I really like the concept of Yammer, and am already thinking about how I could use it as a communications tool in my next class, or actually use it with my colleagues. Wow, that could be really useful!
There has been some importantdiscussion as of late about renegotiating relationships and our ties with social network tools and online spaces. For those of you still finding your way, here’s a cute video that may help.
This is part of a viral advertising campaign from meetup.com. The company’s strategy tagline is “use the Internet to get off the Internet.” Check out the “get your friends unplugged” page, where you can send your friends a reminder to get offline. Yes, it’s viral marketing so as always, carefully critique the sender and the message.
iLeonardo looks like a promising social research tool. The “about” page describes iLeonardo as “a Social Utility for connecting to people and their collections of relevant information on the web.” Using a bookmarklet, you can find and clip text, image links, and URLs, and store them in “notebooks”. Or you can find other people who have created similar notebooks and browse and copy from theirs, or collaborate. The tool seems like a cross between Delicious and Google Notebook.
This video may give you a better idea of how it works:
The service is seems to be in a closed beta right now. You can request an account, or let me know and it seems that I can send you an invite.
Do yourself a favour and take some time to watch Professor Michael Wesch’s brilliant presentation to the Library of Congress, June 23, 2008. The video is 55 minutes long, but is an excellent backgrounder to social media, user-generated content, and online communities through the lens of anthropology.
OneBigTorrent.org is a new place for sharing material that deals with or is relevant to issues of social justice, progressive and radical politics, independent media, ecology. We run a local bittorrent tracker (which we encourage uploaders to use), and we also host torrents from other trackers, as well as ed2K and Magnet links.
Looking through the front page of OneBigTorrent, I immediately saw many videos that interest me. It is nice to have this flavour of content available in one place.
I’m presenting to my colleagues at the Faculty of Education, University of Regina this coming Wednesday on the potential for networked learning in teacher education, K-12 and higher education. Inspired by a very recent initiative by Robin Ellis, I’ve decided to put up a Voicethread slide and ask for feedback from people on their experiences with networked/social learning.
I would very much appreciate your feedback and would love to have faculty members hear your thoughts throughout the presentation. Thanks much in advance!
Click here for the full size view of this Voicethread.
Discover Magazine recently interviewed Danah Boyd, a well known PhD candidate who has been studying social networks. The interview is described as “a look at how kids use technology, where mobile phones are going, and the Facebook vs. Myspace smackdown.” Click the photo to watch the interview.
For many, there will not be much new information on social networks here. However, for those who have missed the piece on the beginnings of formalized social network services and how kids are connecting online, there are some interesting points made here.
I already use a blog and an RSS aggregator. Is adding Twitter as a tool to post and receive information going to enhance or burden my learning experience? Is it that I need to follow only those who use Twitter effectively to enhance my learning opportunities? If so, what is “effective” twittering and how does it differ from effective blogging? Is the energy required to add Twitter to my toolbox and follow Twitterers worth the payoff? Are really good ideas and resources found often enough on Twitter that never surface in blogs?