Archive for the ‘Social Networking’ Category

“For what is this much-trumpeted social networking but an escape back into that world of the closed online service of 15 or 20 years ago? Is it part of some deep human instinct that we take an organism as open and wild and free as the internet, and wish then to divide it into citadels, into closed-border republics and independent city states? The systole and diastole of history has us opening and closing like a flower: escaping our fortresses and enclosures into the open fields, and then building hedges, villages and cities in which to imprison ourselves again before repeating the process once more. The internet seems to be following this pattern.” ~ Stephen Fry in The Guardian

What do you think about Facebook & the social networks that you belong to? Do we like our walled gardens?

(Thanks to Chris for the heads up.)


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graham attwell

“The whole experience of developing and implementing elearning has been profoundly bad. What we’ve essentially tried to do is to replicate physical forms of learning so we try to take the classroom, the textbook and the teacher and replicate them all in software … If you ask me a different question, what’s the future of using technology for learning, then I think it’s absolutely fantastic. We’re beginning to see the possibilities through social networking and multi-user virtual environments, things like Facebook. That’s the real potential for exchanging ideas and building knowledge. It doesn’t look much like the elearning we’re used to.”

~ Graham Attwell on the future of elearning

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in excessSometimes we have control over the information that shows up about us online, and sometimes we don’t. Does your digital identity reflect how you want to be known? Take this quiz.

In a world where more and more employers are googling before hiring, this might be a great discussion starter with learners.

(Photo, in excess, by Sandra Nahdi)

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In September I went to Scotland for a family reunion. For a week, we lived in a castle that had been converted to a educational centre for school children. It was a fantastic place but there was only one computer in the castle connected to the internet. Unfortunately, the computer also had filtering software installed. The reunion was wonderful but, as I stood in line waiting along with the other dozen guests for my turn to check my email, I wondered about the ways we control technology for learners.

The internet is one of the most important ways I learn. I use it to stay in touch and participate in what’s happening in my field. I blog. I bookmark sites. I Facebook. I visit YouTube. I read feeds. I chat. I spend most of my time online using social software. That week, all the sites I use regularly to connect to my community and support my own learning were blocked. The internet turned into a completely useless place for me. It was like a car without an engine. Although I experience some blocking at work, I can’t imagine what it must be like for learners to experience this level of control.

ning blocked

Like a lot of other people, I wonder why we’re blocking instead of teaching. I wonder why we’re banning instead of finding constructive ways to use these tools to support learning. If we were honest with ourselves, we’d admit that security and privacy are less of a concern than our need to control. We don’t always see what learners see. We don’t take advantage of the fantastic teachable moments that learners sometimes give us through their use of technology, as scary or chaotic as they may seem sometimes.

I appreciate that it can be a challenge to teach while people are cruising Facebook. It can be especially frustrating when learners are chatting or text messaging on cell phones. I’ve taught in a classroom of email-checkers. I hate to say it but in a moment of total frustration I once threatened to flush a cell phone. (I’m so sorry!) But I was a lecturer. I was a stand-and-deliver teacher, and that approach just can’t compete with the connection and learning that happens online. Right now, there is no greater challenge to the traditional teacher-centered approach than the internet.

The great thing is we can all learn how to adapt. We can talk to people who are using technology effectively to engage learners. And, of course, there are some great resources online. Here are a few that I grabbed from my bookmarks:

Thanks for listening. I’m off my soapbox now. 🙂

UPDATE: Another point of view comes from Samuel Freedman writing in the NY Times about the new class(room) war.  (I like the line “present but otherwise engaged”.)

(Photo, Ning – Blocked, by Alexander Hayes)

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The Times (in their Lifestyle section — ugh) says that Facebook is “the 13th most used search engine in the world“. Are there that many people searching for people online?

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The University of Wales, Newport, has developed a Facebook application that creates a portal in Facebook to the university’s elearning platform, MyLearning Essentials. (You can only see it if you have a Facebook account.) The application’s creator, Michael Webb, said

It took about a day and half from conception of the idea and joining the Facebook developer community on 10th July to launching it as a viable application for our students to use (or comment on) on the 11th July.

If your institution is thinking of moving to web services for elearning, there’s a fine reason. I can’t imagine having that kind of flexibility with the older-generation learning management systems.

Meanwhile, Graham Attwell worries that Facebook might become a roach motel for learners’ work. Because Facebook is a closed application, the information will go in, but it won’t come out.

What do you think? It’s a great example of meeting learners where they’re at. Does it seem like a good idea?

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Lee LeFever does it again.

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