Posts Tagged ‘social’

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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Colleges and Universities have maintained a great deal of stability and tradition for several centuries. This extended period of permanence has recently been challenged through the emergence of revolutionary technologies. These technological advancements have facilitated changes in the location of where classes are taught (e.g., online), who teaches classes and how classes are taught. Surry and Ensminger (2010) wrote an article that outlined the challenges inherent in some of theses changes and offered solutions.

Many positive changes have been heralded among colleges as a result of new technologies. For example, student information is now easy to track through student information systems. However, the negative impacts of recent changes have not been explored to the extent positives have been highlighted. Some of the negative impacts identified by Surry and Ensminger included commoditization of college, reduced instructional quality, deeper divides in regions and class, impacts on faculty workload, isolation of older and less tech-savvy students, overemphasis on programs that lend themselves to online instruction and loss of cultural and institutional identity.

Background of Issues

The authors offered five areas of discussion that helped to frame these problems. They presented a historical background for each of the five areas:

  1. Technological determinism is a philosophy that credits technology as the driving force in modern society. Proponents of this stance hold that technology is an autonomous force, and it has moved beyond human control. These supporters credit five characteristics of technology as being the impetus for technology becoming autonomous: self-augmentation, linkage to other technologies, automation, technical universalism (homogenizing effect of technology) and monism (connectedness of technology).
  2. The theory of Social Construction of Technology (SCOT) regards all technology as a mere tool that is created, engineered and employed within a social system. As a result, technological tools are viewed as devices that advance the goals of society, which can be used in a positive or negative manner. One advantage of SCOT is that it adopts a non-linear and broad perspective of technology. In addition, proponents of SCOT regard users as active agents that design and shape technology rather than passive recipients.
  3. Co-construction of Technology is an eclectic philosophy that blends the first two philosophies (i.e., determinism and SCOT). These theorists contend that it is one-dimensional to regard technology as either a mere tool of society (i.e., SCOT) or as the driving force behind modern society (i.e., determinism). In this paradigm, society and technology influence one another through a symbiotic relationship.
  4. Implementation of technology is quickly becoming the primary concern of innovative institutions, whereas it was once adoption. The adoption of technology does not ensure that the technology will be used in an effective manner. Theories of implementation specific to higher education list seven key factors that influence the effectiveness of implementation: learning, support, resources, people, policies, infrastructure and evaluation.
  5. Evaluation is perhaps the most crucial factor from this list. If administrators and faculty can identify goals initially, then all stakeholders will have clear direction to meet these agreed-upon goals. Kirkpatrick (1994) developed a framework for this approach through his four-tiered evaluation model: reaction, learning, transfer and impact.

Specific Problems Identified

After providing this historical framework, the authors discussed specific problems resulting from the negative impacts of technology through the lens of these areas (i.e., determinism, SCOT, implementation and evaluation). They prefaced these solutions by identifying the most “compelling” challenge for administrators in this new frontier, which was finding the appropriate balance between human considerations and technological considerations:

  1. The philosophy of determinism could create some barriers. In an attempt to maximize the benefits of technology, core educational philosophies and ethics could be eclipsed. In addition, a host of technologies could become so interconnected and ubiquitous that they are beyond the control or supervision of organizations. Universalism could lead to courses becoming uniform without unique perspectives. As courses move toward this homogenized approach, students might lose their sense of affiliation and identification with any particular college, and this could in turn dramatically effect the personal development of learners, especially traditional students. New technologies will provide greater access to education for the citizenry, but states might not have control of the content and delivery of this curriculum. Therefore, states could react by increasing state control of programs and courses offered through such technology.
  2. According to SCOT, technology is derived as a result of social forces responding to societal needs. Therefore, a small group of high-level officials could make unilateral decisions that do not take into consideration the intricacies and details needed to make a wise decision on technology. These shortsighted decisions could lead to counterproductive, secondary, amoral and unimportant goals. In fact, the possibility exists that some members (e.g., business owner) of such an elite group could have ulterior motives that were not in the best interests of higher education or students.
  3. Issues related to Co-construction of Technology were covered in the discussion above, which focused on determinism and SCOT.
  4. Research has revealed that implementation is frequently regarded as being more difficult and important than adoption. If implementation is not administered correctly, then several consequences could unfold, such as wasted resources and time, inability to monitor or manage the technology, lackluster utilization, heightened faculty frustration and depreciated access for underserved groups. In addition, there are no universal answers for implementation because each organization requires a different approach.
  5. Perhaps the most difficult task for college officials now and in the future is predicting the impact of technology on education. If administrators build decisions on incomplete or inappropriate information, then the impact could be deemed too narrow or broad.

Solutions for Problems

There were a number of solutions offered for this set of negative ramifications. Surry (2008) actually offered six steps to help guide administrators respond to determinism: take individual responsibility, reduce social plasticity, establish formalized oversight, increase awareness, push decisions down the hierarchy and provide for meaningful choice. Decisions should be made after all stakeholders have an opportunity to offer insight. Students should be exposed to constant and meaningful interactions in order to combat social plasticity, such as community service or virtual fraternities or sororities.

School officials can also respond to SCOT in several ways. First, educators need to aim toward meeting the goals and values of society at large. Second, educators need to be aware of the competing motives of various groups contributing to higher education.

Implementation should be regarded as a customized process that will be tedious and long. Administrators need to proactively identify and alter policies that are not compatible with the future of University 2.0. For example, faculty tenure, promotion and retention might need to be altered.

In reference to evaluation, the primary advice offered by the authors is that identifying the impact is the most crucial aspect of evaluation. If the impact cannot be fully anticipated, then officials should put in place the resources that will allow for evaluation to take place.

Future Trends

The great unknown in all plans relating to technology is the expanding and evolving nature of student expectations. In addition, technology is a dynamic force that is progressing at an exponential rate. In light of these two realities, colleges will have to place greater emphasis on training faculty and upgrading technology. However, this emphasis should not overlook those learners that do not embrace University 2.0. In order to balance these concerns, officials will need to become active agents in the change process.  The authors suggest that successful administrators in University 2.0 will decentralize decision-making, embrace participation, anticipate obstacles and thrive in changing environments.

Both higher education and society could be forced to make a decision. Society might have to choose between having colleges that generate imaginative and thoughtful students or highly technical students. Similarly, colleges could be forced to choose between offering settings that are personal and human or environments that are technologically advanced.

Kirkpatrick, D. (1994). Evaluating training programs: The four levels. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler.

Surry, D. (2008). Technology and the future of higher education: An Ellulian perspective. In J. Luca & E. r. Weippl (Eds.), Proceedings of the ED-MEDIA 2008-World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia & Telecommunications (pp. 4901-4906). Chesapeake, VA: Association for Advancement of Computing in Education.

Surry, D. & Ensminger, D. (2010). University 2.0: Human, social, and societal issues. In Yang, H. H., & Yuen, S. C. (Eds.), Collective intelligence and e-learning 2.0: Implications of web-based communities and networking (pp. 94-108). Hershey, Pennsylvania: Information Science Reference. doi: 10.4018/978-1-60566-729-4.ch006

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Twitter has quickly become a force in American society and the technology realm. The company was founded in 2006, so the word “quickly” does not adequately describe the mind-boggling growth of this Web 2.0 technology. Twitter has gained over 100 million users worldwide in just four years.

Simply stated, Twitter is a free, web-based application that allows users to send and receive short messages; Twitter is simply a social network/microblog. These short messages (aka, tweets) are limited to 140 characters and are text-based. Each tweet is posted on the author’s Twitter profile page. In addition, individuals have the ability to subscribe to other authors’ Twitter accounts. Once a person “subscribes” to an author’s Twitter account, each tweet, from said author, will automatically be sent to the subscribers account. These subscribers are known as “followers.”

Authors have the ability to restrict delivery to designated individuals, and they can form closed groups. Mobility is a key component of Twitter. The limitation of 140 text-based characters coincides well with Short Message Service (SMS), which is now a standard feature of most cell phones. However, messages can be posted through text messages, instant messages or web forms. There are a number of third party services and other Web 2.0 applications that tie in with Twitter.

The first class assignment in IT 860 was to create a Twitter account and post 5 tweets to our class Twitter account. Joining Twitter was very easy; all that was required was logging on to http://twitter.com/ and filling out a few pieces of basic information. At this point, I seized the opportunity to personalize my Twitter account by configuring settings, modifying the layout and completing the profile questions.

Next, I searched for our class account. I began “following” the class Twitter account (i.e., @it860), which was signified by the standard Twitter icon. I would like to note here that Twitter accounts are generally referred to by using the @ sign followed by the account name (e.g., @it860).

Finally, I posted five tweets to the class @it860 Twitter account. One twist on this assignment was the requirement to post these five tweets through Direct Messages. Normally, you post a tweet by typing a quick message in the “What’s happening?” box, illustrated below:

However, for this assignment we needed to send Direct Messages that would instantly go to all classmates. This was easily accomplished in one of two ways. First, you could post a tweet normally but precede the message text with “d it780”.  In this scenario, the author would literally type “d it780 message…” in the “What’s happening?” box. Second, you can click the “Direct Message” link (illustrated below), and that link takes you to a direct message page from which you can choose a group and type a Direct Message:

Here are the first five tweets I posted to the class account via Direct Message:

  • Here is a great Web 2.0 wiki that outlines a number of tools by category- http://is.gd/cz9Ly
  • I just checked out Bebo. I thought it was limited to bands but it’s grown – http://www.bebo.com/
  • I just figured out that WordPress has a widget for Twitter!
  • Twitter Keys is a shortcut for icons in a tweet. ✌ for now; I’ve had to many cups of ♨ – http://is.gd/czc2g

Twitter Keys Bank

I learned several new concepts from this assignment. Signing up for and personalizing a Twitter account is free, easy and quick. During the tweeting process, I learned the difference between a normal tweet and a Direct Message. I also discovered several really cool tools and third party plug-ins that work in conjunction with Twitter. For example, Twitter Keys facilitates a shortcut for inserting icons into a tweet by using an icon bank (picture below). Last, I found a WordPress widget for Twitter, so you can check out my latest tweets on the sidebar of this page.

My Twitter page is https://twitter.com/jon_woodward. Feel free to check out this account or subscribe.

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This table of contents chronicles the reflections on various projects and assignments of IT 780, Seminar in Instructional Technology.


I.    Introduction to Blogfolio

II.  Reflection on Assignments

III. Reflection on Readings

IV.  Overall Reflection on IT 780

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Web 2.0 has only been on the technology scene for a few years, since around 2004. However, this new body of Web applications has transformed the way people interact with the Internet and each other. The focus of IT 780, Seminar in Instructional Technology was to expose students to current Web 2.0 applications. In addition, Dr. Yuen insured that students were immersed in the practical employment of these tools rather than just studying about them.

Content within the first generation of the Web was developed for communication and information sharing, and usually an individual or group created these Web sites.  Web 2.0 differs in that it is based on interactivity and collaboration, and users develop these new applications. The genesis of Web 2.0 has given rise to the popularity of social media, which I will discuss in five broad categories: communication, collaboration, multimedia, reviews, and entertainment.

Communication tools (e.g., blogs, microblogs and social networking systems) have garnered the most attention among all Web 2.0 tools. Most notably, social networking systems (SNS) are immensely popular. For example, Facebook would be the third most populated country in the world if compared to existing countries. Dr. Yuen covered communication tools in four ways. First, the IT 780 class was primarily taught through Ning, which is a SNS. Second, we had reading assignments that presented research on SNS, and each member of the class had to create a Ning Web site designed to teach a class. Third, going a step beyond normal Web site creation, Dr. Yuen assigned a project that asked each student to generate an original mobile Web site. Fourth, the blogfolio that you are now reading serves as an example of a Web 2.0 communication tool, and this blog represents the final project for the IT 780 class.

Collaborative tools allow groups of people to accomplish projects together and include such items as social bookmarking, wikis and news. Social bookmarking allows users to bookmark Web sites, tag each site with keywords and save the bookmarks to a public Web site. A wiki is simply a Web page that can be edited and viewed by anyone with an Internet connection and a Web browser. One of the reading assignments for IT 780 focused on social bookmarking. Also, the IT 780 class was divided into small groups, and each group was responsible for creating and designing a wiki. The development of the wiki was informed by two reading assignments on wikis that were given by Dr. Yuen.

A myriad of Web 2.0 applications have been produced for multimedia, which includes photos, videos, audio, livecasts and presentations. Flickr and Picasa represent Web 2.0 tools designed for photos and graphics, and podcasting represents an example of an audio application. In fact, one of the reading assignments and a project for IT 780 focused on podcasting, including the creation of an RSS feed. Dr. Yuen also assigned a project that employed the use of an online presentation tool, Slideshare. This presentation tool allowed each student to upload and share Adobe PDFs, Word documents and PowerPoint presentations online. I underestimated how many individuals would view this site. For example, I uploaded two presentations, and both of them have over 700 views in just a couple months. Obviously, the potential of such devices is enormous.

Dr. Yuen also asked the class to read an article that gave a general overview of Web 2.0 technologies. This article addressed many of the applications mentioned above. The focus of the IT 780 class was to expose students to Web 2.0 tools, specifically as it related to education. In light of this exposure to Web 2.0 technologies, Dr. Yuen asked each member of the class to make a presentation on a Web 2.0 technology that he or she found useful. Therefore, we did not spend a great deal of time on Web 2.0 applications designed for reviews (e.g., products, business or community) or entertainment (games, platforms or virtual worlds). However, these tools were mentioned in various class discussions.

IT 780 has been an incredible adventure of discovery in the Web 2.0 world. As Dr. Yuen says, many technologists read or talk about these applications but never immerse themselves in the tools. This class forced students to gain a functional knowledge of Web 2.0 tools. As a result, I feel prepared to discuss current Web 2.0 technologies with authority. In addition, exposure to these technologies has been a catalyst for personal and professional change. For example, I will certainly change several approaches in teaching and learning as a result of this course. When a class motivates one to make life changes and challenges previously held beliefs, then I would argue that it has been a great success. IT 780 is certainly in this mold.

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Web 2.0 was designed to encourage social collaboration, user-centered design and interoperability. An overwhelming number of applications have been developed in association with Web 2.0. In the midst of this social media, individuals can become overwhelmed with the options and inundation of information. This technological flood can, at times, send users into overload. Prioritizing what is important and urgent is an essential skill in using Web 2.0.

Interestingly, Web 2.0 enthusiasts have recognized this issue and created applications that assist users in filtering and prioritizing information. Aggregators represent a genre of Web 2.0 tools that accomplish this task. There are a number of aggregators available, but I would like to discuss Netvibes as a representative example from this group. In addition, one of the assignments from IT 780 was to present on a Web 2.0 tool, and I chose Netvibes as the tool on which I would present.

The term “aggregate” simply means to gather into a whole. Web 2.0 aggregation, therefore, can be seen as an application that gathers pertinent information from various sources into one place (i.e., Web site). An analogy to aggregation can be illustrated by the evolution of sandwich making. Before 1916, if someone wanted to make a normal sandwich, then they would need to go to the baker for bread, butcher for meat and, perhaps, a number of farmers to get fresh vegetables (e.g., lettuce or tomatoes). However, Piggly Wiggly became the first self-service grocery store in 1916, and sandwich connoisseurs could gather all the needed ingredients for a sandwich in one location. Similarly, aggregators allow users to gather all desired Web-based content in one location.

Netvibes offers a number of widgets and tools to facilitate this gathering of information. First, users create a custom home page with widgets that can be accessed from any location with Internet access. This allows users to always have access to their Netvibes home page. The application centralizes content. Live data can be added to the home page, such as stocks, email, weather or headlines. Social networking sites (SNS), such as Facebook or Twitter, can also be added to the home page. RSS and Atom feeds are also supported by Netvibes. In fact, users can embed another website within their Netvibes home page.

As mentioned earlier, a number of aggregators exist, but Netvibes offers several competitive features. SNS integration is a crucial component of Netvibes. In addition, Netvibes updates in real-time, so information is always current. There is a great deal of flexibility within Netvibes, including multiple page and tab creation. Bloglines, Google reader plus iGoogle, My Yahoo! and Pageflakes are additional aggregators. In my opinion, Netvibes, Pagefalkes and iGoogle are the three best aggregators currently on the market.

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Among the many social networking sites (SNS) that have emerged in recent years, Ning stands out as a unique and useful tool for educators. Ning is a Web 2.0 tool that allows users to create their own social network. Although the company has only existed for five years (i.e., 2005), Ning has proven to be a powerful, attractive and free tool for SNS enthusiasts.

One of the most appealing features of Ning allows users to produce an original social network that focuses on a particular topic. In addition, creators can customize the features, widgets and design of this SNS. The user-friendly interface and easy setup is perhaps the greatest component of this creative opportunity.

As mentioned earlier, Ning is a free application, but the tradeoff for this free access is a series of adds posted on each page of the SNS. However, these ads are not intrusive and quickly fade away as one focuses on the content of the page. If a user desires to eliminate ads, then Ning offers ad-free SNS for a fee.

I enjoyed creating a Ning website for this assignment. The variety of tools offered within Ning allowed for a great deal of imagination on each page. I chose to construct a SNS for a Music Appreciation class that will be taught in the coming school year. Ning served as an ideal platform to host the variety of media that I wanted to incorporate in this class. For example, the top portion of the home page for my Ning site is illustrated below. The home page contains a graphic representation of each member, welcome, audio player, video links, chat area, course content links, announcement board, discussion forum, picture widget and group area. In addition to the home page, I created 11 additional pages that can be accessed by the navigational tab menu at the top of each page. These tabs range from personal information on each student to a link to my personal blog.

Ning Example SNS

The possibilities of Ning seem limitless in an educational settings. Promoting community, enhancing classes and teaching classes are examples of this potential. I do have to admit that I was surprised and saddened to discover that Ning would no longer be a free service as of May 2010. Certainly, there are similar tools on the Internet that can accomplish what Ning does, but Ning seems to be the leading competitor at this time. However, I will find a new, free service rather than paying to prolong activity in Ning. I believe that Ning will lose many customers because of this decision, and I think Ning underestimates the free market and open source options.

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