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Posts Tagged ‘social bookmarking’

EDUCAUSE produces a monthly publication that seeks to identify, compile, and review new technologies that show promise in education.  I describe the emerging technologies showing the most potential for education below in chronological order by year; the year 2005 through the present is covered in successive blogs.  The years do not necessarily represent the year of creation but of emergence.

  • Social Bookmarking.  Bookmarking occurs when a user saves the URL address of a Web site to a local computer.  Social bookmarking takes place when a user saves a bookmark to a public Web site and “tags” each location with keywords.  The ability to tag information resources with keywords and access these bookmarks through the Internet has the potential to alter how individuals find and store information.  Knowing where information is found may become less important than knowing how to retrieve information using a collaborative framework designed by colleagues (EDUCAUSE, 2005a).
  • Clickers.  Class size and human dynamics have traditionally restricted student engagement and feedback (e.g., a limited number of students dominate the interaction).  Clickers help to more efficiently facilitate engagement and interaction, which can be modified to any discipline and most teaching environments (e.g., small groups or partners).  A clicker is a small device that uses radio frequencies to communicate with a centralized computer in a classroom setting, such as the teacher’s or presenter’s computer (EDUCAUSE, 2005).
  • Podcasting/vodcasting.  Podcasting describes any hardware and software amalgamation that automatically allows audio files to download to an MP3 (i.e., Motion Photographic Experts Group Audio Layer 3) player.  This ability allows users to listen to or watch digital media content at their convenience.  Educators can use Podcasting as an asynchrounous learning tool that students can use anywhere, anytime.  If users add a video to a Podcast, then it becomes a Vodcast (EDUCAUSE, 2005c).
  • Wikis.  Wikis are powerful tools to promote collaboration.  The term “wikis” refers to Web pages that an individual can view and alter through Internet access and a Web browser.  This technology supports group collaboration and asychrounous communication (EDUCAUSE, 2005d).
  • Video blogging.  Similar to a blog, a video blog (vlog) employs video instead of text or audio.  Obviously, educators can use this technology to record lectures or special announcements.  In some instances, video blogs are used as an outlet for self expression or opinions (EDUCAUSE, 2005e).
  • Blogs.  A blog is simply an online journal, and viewers of a blog can respond.  The  technology is similar to e-mail.  Students usually employ blogs to complete assignments and for self expression.  Educators use blogs to support teaching and learning, promote dialogue, and express ideas or opinions (EDUCAUSE, 2005f).
  • Augmented reality.  Augmented Reality focuses on real space or objects and uses contextual data to expand students’ knowledge of that space or object.  It differs from virtual reality in that it does not generate a simulated reality (EDUCAUSE, 2005g).
  • Instant Messaging.  Instant Messaging (IM) allows for real-time communication through mobile computing devices or personal computers using the Internet.  IM now supports communication in the form of text, audio, video, images, and other attachments.  While IM has been around since the late 1990s, the functionality of IM is now ubiquitous with the advent of many new applications and mobility.  Learners using IM appear to feel connected with the faculty and peers in a way that is difficult using other multimedia.  Higher education has the opportunity to embrace this new medium of communication that requires little cost (EDUCAUSE, 2005h).
  • Collaborative Editing.  Collaborative editing allows several individuals to edit a document simultaneously.  In other words, this tool allows a user to edit a file or observe someone else editing the file in real time.  This technology is similar to instant messaging in that changes are seen instantly, and it resembles a wiki in that all participants can delete, change, or add content.  Collaborative editing provides a good platform for supporting groupwork in a distance learning environment; students can work together despite being separated by time and space (EDUCAUSE, 2005i).

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2005a, May) 7 things you should know about social bookmarking. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7001.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2005b, May) 7 things you should know about clickers. Retrieved from  http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7002.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2005c, June) 7 things you should know about podcasting. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7003.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2005d, July). 7 things you should know about wikis. Retrieved from  http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7004.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2005e, August). 7 things you should know about videoblogging. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7005.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2005f, September). 7 things you should know about blogs. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7006.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2005g, October). 7 things you should know about augmented reality. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7007.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2005h, November) 7 things you should know about instant messaging. Retrieved from  http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7008.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2005i, December) 7 things you should know about collaborative editing. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7009.pdf

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Web 2.0 is now a technological juggernaut, and these technologies are revolutionizing the way people communicate, collaborate and accomplish basic tasks. The focus of IT 860, Emerging Technologies in Instructional Technology, was to explore the latest and greatest Web 2.0 tools that show promise in education. Dr. Yuen exposed each student to the theoretical basis for each Web 2.0 tool through his book, “Collective Intelligence and E-Learning 2.0: Implications of Web-Based Communities and Networking.” In addition, students were required to use each Web 2.0 tool that was discussed in order to gain knowledge through experiential learning.

The first generation of the Web was developed primarily by experts and aimed at merely sharing knowledge. Web 2.0 differs in that these tools are created and developed by a variety of users with the intent of collaboration and interactivity. This focus on collaboration and interactivity has facilitated a sweeping embrace of social media. For example, if Facebook was a country, then it would be the third largest in the world behind China and India.

The Web 2.0 applications covered in IT 860 can be divided into three categories: tools that connect people, tools that share knowledge and tools that connect people and share knowledge in virtual environments. A large portion of the readings focused on issues involved with connecting people, while the bulk of the Web 2.0 tools that were covered focused on the sharing of knowledge. It should be noted that while I discuss these ideas separately, the whole point of Web 2.0 is to provide environments that both connect people and share knowledge.

Tools that Connect People

The premise of collective intelligence is founded on the power of tools that connect people. A series of readings helped to shed light on the philosophical basis for the use of these connecting Web 2.0 technologies in education. A new paradigm in learning theories was introduced in 2004 with the birth of connectivism, which stems from the traditions of behaviorism, cognitivism and constructivism. Our first reading was on connectivism and described the power of collective intelligence. Connectivists hold that learning takes place as networks of individuals share knowledge, and one powerful Web 2.0 tool covered that represents the power of human connection is Twitter.  For example, Twitter boasts 50 million Tweets per day; that is a lot of connecting!

As might be expected, this level of connectivity requires a good organizational infrastructure and can lead to a great number of legal concerns in education. Therefore, our second reading addressed the obstacles to implementing Web 2.0 in educational institutions. Further, educators need to consider the human and social issues involved with the implementation of Web 2.0 in the classroom, which was our third reading.

Synchronous Online Learning Environments (SOLE) represent an excellent example of synchronous online learning that is offered in an ethical and effective way. In SOLE, students have a chance to interact with peers and the teacher in a similar way to a traditional classroom, and multiple channels of media simultaneously connecting with learners enhance this interaction.

Tools that Share Knowledge

The power of Web 2.0 to share knowledge is robust; in fact, the number of tools is overwhelming. Dr. Yuen did an excellent job of weeding through the volumes of applications available and introducing students to the best of these tools. A reading that described the potential of Web-based video (e.g., YouTube) began this quest.

Following this reading, students dove into a myriad of Web 2.0 tools aimed at sharing knowledge. Social bookmarking (Diigo) is a Web 2.0 technology that allows users to bookmark Web sites and place tags on those bookmarks using keywords. Social publishing sites (Scribd) allow users to share and find written documents on the Internet or mobile devices, such as Word, PowerPoint or PDF. Screencasting (Jing or ScreenToaser) occurs when individuals capture a video of what happens on a computer screen over a span of time, and audio (e.g., narrative) is usually part of a screencast as well. File Sharing (Drop.io) is a powerful trend in Web 2.0 that facilitates collaboration, and users can create a “drop” by uploading an image, audio, video, document or other digital content. VoiceThread is a media aggregator that permits users to upload media to a website, and this tool also facilitates collaboration and feedback on such media.

Connecting and Sharing in Virtual Worlds

Virtual worlds find their ancestry in video games. Therefore, our first reading on virtual worlds actually focused on a model of Game-Based Learning (VISOLE). Learning through games is gaining more attention from several educators. Perhaps an even more promising environment for learning is seen in virtual worlds. Our final reading focused on taking a Pedagogical Odyssey in Three-Dimensional Virtual Worlds (The SECOND LIFE Model). As a point of application, each student had an opportunity to make a presentation at a conference in Second Life.

Summative Thoughts

All of these tools described above promoted the sharing of knowledge. However, it would be misleading if I failed to highlight the intrinsic ability of each of these tools to also connect learners. A symbiotic relationship exists between connecting people and sharing knowledge in Web 2.0.

Dr. Yuen provided an incredible environment for learning these emerging tools. In fact, he taught the class through a platform (Mixxt) that closely resembled a social networking site (SNS) rather than through learning management software (LMS). Naturally, this approach led to more connectivity among students and facilitated the sharing of knowledge among the group.

This class has been an incredible journey of learning. I now feel confident to use Web 2.0 tools and design instruction around them appropriately.

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Primary Ideas
Social bookmarking facilitates the sharing of knowledge and research in a real-time, dynamic fashion. In fact, social bookmarking can be used as a vital tool to enhance knowledge in the university setting, from the freshmen year to graduate school. The chapter “From Information Literacy to Scholarly Identity: Effective Pedagogical Strategies for Social Bookmarking” discusses the importance of social bookmarking in research and how social bookmarking can be used in the collegiate setting.

I must confess that I did not fully grasp the value or potential of social bookmarking before reading this chapter. Up to this point, I had not considered the usefulness of social bookmarking to teach the basic lexicon of a subject area. The President of the institution at which I work, Dr. Lott, often says, “We only know what we know.” By this statement, he means that we are each limited to our own knowledge base unless we look outside our institution and ourselves. The ideas presented in this chapter on the use of social bookmarking in the classroom helped to broaden my view of social bookmarking.

One of the most important subjects discussed was the difference between taxonomies and folksonomies. Taxonomy was defined as a formal hierarchy of vocabulary terms commonly used by researchers in a subject area. Conversely, a folksonomy was described as an informal and collaborative categorization of terms. In short, journals and professionals generally use taxonomies in formal settings with tight controls, while folksonomies rapidly evolve and allow for freedom and less control.

The authors describe the importance of building an “educated” vocabulary within the context of each level of college. The undergraduate years are largely spent learning the appropriate taxonomy of a subject area, and this immersion allows students to conduct more meaningful research and improves their own personal use of folksonomies. Teachers are to help move undergraduates from conducting searches to doing research. The graduate years are spent trying to find a “niche” in the midst of the current taxonomy, and this “niche” quite often serves as the basis of their thesis or dissertation.

Ironically, I actually did not know the term “folksonomy” before reading this chapter, but the term makes a great deal of sense. I believe that technological fields provide one caveat to the author’s general description of the purpose behind the undergraduate years versus the graduate years. Because technology is constantly evolving at a rapid pace, technology researchers must commit to being lifelong learners in order to stay current in their field and understanding of the taxonomy. In that sense, professional technologists’ mastery of the taxonomy can quickly be lost in a short span of time if they do not stay connected to surfacing research. After all, how many people even knew the term “social bookmarking” ten years ago?

Strengths/Weaknesses
This chapter was well written and made the case for social bookmarking in an eloquent manner. I thought there were two specific items that the chapter addressed well. First, the author’s discussion on the importance of developing a lexicon in college was well stated and true. Second, the examples given for each level of student (lower-level undergraduate, upper-level undergraduate, and graduate) were thoughtful and applicable.

In many articles, the idea or theory presented makes sense, but the application of the idea or theory falls short. At times, I have dismissed ideas that might have worked because the author’s example was terrible and unrealistic. I do understand that this is proverbially throwing the baby out with the bath water, but if the expert in the area cannot conceive of a good application, then I often assume the idea is good on paper but not in reality. Juxtaposed to those researchers, this author provided excellent examples of social bookmarking for each level. Further, these examples seemed feasible and useful. I actually got the idea that the researcher had tried this in class and it worked; I do not always get that feeling after reading research.

The only weakness I see was a lack of suggested platforms for facilitating social bookmarking. I would have appreciated some recommendations on what medium the author considered to be the best for displaying social bookmarks. For example, does he prefer using social bookmarking in a blog or on a discussion board? I do understand that the answer to this can be derived from the assignment given in a respective class, yet a few suggestions might have been helpful.

Future?
The potential for social bookmarking is immense. I do not think it is a passing fad. I see the greatest potential in undergraduate studies because social networking is an ideal tool to help teach the basic taxonomy of a subject area. However, I believe it will only be a tool to help learn the taxonomy rather than being the only means to teaching taxonomy. As teachers begin to see the potential of social bookmarking it will gain in popularity; it is not being used very much at present, to my knowledge.

I am unsure about the use of social networking in graduate studies. The tool is and will continue to be broadly employed to share new research and learn about new developments. Therefore, I believe social networking will increase in popularity as it relates to keeping abreast of current developments. However, I do not know if this tool will be used to develop ideas for which students will conduct their own research; this applies to professionals as well.

The problem is that of idea theft, conscious or subconscious. Certainly, a close circle of friends could be used to develop emerging research, but I don’t think anyone is racing to publicly offer their ideas on “hot” research topics that have not been explored. I hope that I am wrong on this, but I tend to think that social networking will primarily be used to report research already conducted rather than conjecture about possible ideas for research. There are other technology tools more suited to this pursuit.

Reflection
The place of social bookmarking in education was clearly defined in this chapter. Three ideas from this chapter served as items I will begin to employ. First, the importance of establishing a good lexicon within a subject matter is an idea I subconsciously understood but never formally considered. I will begin filtering assignments through this lens. Second, the place of social bookmarking to help accomplish this subject-area lexicon is obvious; therefore, I will employ social bookmarking as another means to help students learn important terms. Third, I am going to begin practicing social bookmarking to help distill my own personal research goals.

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