9 Ways To Build Social Networks

TechCrunch put out the article “9 Way to Build Social Networks” where it compares white label social networking services such as Ning, KickApps, Crowdvine, etc.

I’ve recently put together a Ning social network for our Digital Internship Project, preservice teachers which our Faculty of Education supports through a special technology-infused internship experience. Ning is incredibly easy to set up, but I’ve got a couple of issues around it. First, it’s difficult to really make a Ning network NOT look like a Ning network. However, I’ll be working on this to see how far I can get. Second, I’m not a big fan of ads so I opted for the $5/month to get rid of the ads. I’d much rather build the tool from the ground so I can get the control I want, but I simply don’t have the time.

Right now, the Digital Internship Project is an invite-only Ning group. If there are those out there that would like to interact or partner with our digital interns, 4th year Education students going into a 4-month practicum experience, let me know.


Internet Crash 2007

Here is some excellent coverage of this important, current event.

Wow, I’ve watched this about a dozen times and still find this funny!

Social Networks: THE Way To Sell Your Stuff

I should have known this from the start, but I guess I will for next time.

With all the deals and incentives around new cars these days, I’ve found it difficult to sell anything I have used. I finally sold my ’99 Contour SVT, and it’s clear to me that in at least this case, traditional venues for promoting sales aren’t as effective as the new.

Action 1: Listed my car at AutoTrader.ca. This exposed my vehicle to potential buyers on the AutoTrader website and as well, through the AutoTrader magazine. Cost: over $125. Result: one weak telephone inquiry.

Action 2: Listed my car in the local LeaderPost newspaper page for two weeks. Cost: over $150. Result: two weak telephone inquiries. Still, not even one testdrive.

Action 3: Listed my car on the Facebook marketplace service. Cost: free. Result: over 50 email inquiries, some weak, some very interested resulting in 4 test drives, 8 offers and me being able to sell my car ABOVE my asking price.

Now I don’t know if others are experiencing similar things, but I’m continually realizing the massive potential of social network tools like Facebook to accomplish just about anything. Traditional media, you cost too much and just don’t cut it anymore.

Goodbye my girl, sorry to see you go, but you’ll make someone else happy now.

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Mr. Roger’s Ruined Our Generation? Not likely.

Well I wanted an excuse to try Flock again, so here it is … a short post.

Recently, I’ve noticed a couple of stories where Mr. (Fred) Rogers has been blamed for a generation of narcissistic children lacking work ethic.

Well I can’t speak for everyone, but I know that any success that I have achieved in my life has everything to do with my parents, Greek immigrants who came to Canada in the late 1950’s. The photo below shows a crowd of landing immigrants coming in to Pier 21, Halifax. My dad, Marinos (Mario) Couros, is tagged via Flickr.

The next pic is of my mother, Kalomira (Mary) Couros, coming over on another ship a few years later.

I am fascinated by these photos. It amazes me still that these individuals left their families, their nation, everything they had known, to find a better life. Both came over with literally pennies in their pockets, and both worked so very hard to make a living, to build a business, to raise and help educate four children and to create a happy and secure home.

Has Mr. Rogers’ “you’re good enough” message really affected what I have become today? Sure, I believe that media does effect us in many ways … I won’t get into all of the factors in this post (if you want to know more, read this). However, if you are going to blame anyone on what I have become today … blame my parents. I may not be perfect, but as I said before, any success I have can be attributed to two individuals that inspired, directed and nurtured me. It is because of their actions (both direct and indirect) and their unconditional love that I am who I am today.

Thanks mom and dad! I love you both more than you know.

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“The Ripe Environment”

One of the best posts I read in a while comes from Ben Wilkoff at the “Discourse about Discourse” blog. I guess the reason I feel it is good is because it resonates with me right from point #1 as he writes “I’m tired of talking about the tools.” Instead, Ben begins to build an image of what he describes as “the ripe environment.” I have no doubt that many of you reading this know all about this “ideal” environment but it’s great to see it summarized this way. Ben also points out a potential problem in the way that many of us approach teaching about it.

So, how do we get to The Ripe Environment? Well, I have started to reflect on how I became a constant-learner and contributor to this thing I am more and more reluctant to call School 2.0. I want to replicate this process for others, and showing people my flickr account, my del.icio.us account, my blog, my podcast, my pedagogy, my wiki projects, and my twitter account just doesn’t seem to work very well. What does actually work is making sure that they have the right environment so that they can explore these resources on their own, through their own creation.

This point is also important to me. I don’t know how many times I’ve simply presented “my stuff” and then tried to get the audience to imagine a place where this social/collaborative learning style (which works for me) would work for them. This approach is sometimes successful with individuals who are familiar with both the tools and the appropriate pedagogy. However, my typical audience members (usually faculty of education types) come with vastly different beliefs about the nature of learning, beliefs I kindly label “traditional”.

Ben continues with the following 10 points which characterize this “ripe” learning environment.

In order for the environment to be ripe for collaboration, educators and learners must:

1. Have a genuine need to be heard by others and, in one way or another, receive feedback for contributions.
2. See living examples of collaboration (not case studies or projects from a few years ago) that they can become a part of.
3. Have the time to connect more than two dots together. (Rather than connecting: “My students need to know this” with “here is the information” they need to have time to connect “My student needs to know this” with “my students need to evaluate this for validity” with “my students need to know how to use this resource to find the information” with “my students need to create new information for others to use.”)
4. See collaboration as an extension of their natural instincts as a teacher (opening possibilities for learning).
5. Find the backchannels relevant to them (these backchannels must be encouraged and honored as vital sources of learning).
6. Know that their products and ideas as valuable.
7. Understand the marks of successful collaboration. (They have to know what it looks like.)
8. Accept that questions are both for interdependent and interdependent learning. (All questions are serious points of inquiry in The Ripe Environment.)
9. Believe that personal and professional change can never be institutionalized. (Individuals create change, not schools or districts.)
10. Know that meetings, conferences, and workshops are not the places where the most powerful learning and change takes place.

Ben plans to follow up on each of these points in the (hopefully near) future. I look forward to see what he posts.