[:en]#LTHEChat No 44 (27 Jan 2016) Social Media and Conferences[:]


The tweetchat yesterday was really hectic but great fun. It was the first joint tweet chat between the Learning and Teaching in HE Chat  and the HEA Chat  on the subject of the Four Dimensional Conference: Using Social Media facilitated by Professor Simon Lancaster and Sue Beckingham.  I picked up some lovely ideas for our SALT Conference on the 28th June 2016 that I would like to try … watch this space !

We have a lovely storify of the event which you might like to take a look at and a magic visualisation of the tweet interaction from Martin Hawksey’s  …Tags Explorer  Continue reading “[:en]#LTHEChat No 44 (27 Jan 2016) Social Media and Conferences[:]”

You've got an "ology"?

I watched the recording of Zaid Ali Alsagoff’s live session Sharing to Connect, Interact and Learn from Week 9 of CCK11 and during it was introduced to Schoology.com. Schoology is a social network-stroke-learning management system for education that is strongly influenced by Facebook and allows any individual or institution to set up a social network for teaching and learning. It’s free for the moment and worth a look.

Incidentally, I also attended (part of) the inaugural meeting of the ELESIG Gwella group at which lecture capture was discussed. The recording of the CCK11 MOOC Live Sessions is another exemplar of how this might work with larger groups. George Siemens and Stephen Downes use Eluminate to facilitate and record these sessions and provide both Just-In-Time and Just on Time meetings and discussions that can be viewed by anyone who has the link. The live sessions take place on Wednesdays and Fridays at 5.00 pm UK time (careful US have gone to Daylight saving time already so it might be 16.00 pm this week) and anyone can attend. Net Pedagogy is on the menu this week.

Social media: A guide for researchers

“Social media is an important technological trend that has big implications for how researchers (and people in general) communicate and collaborate. Researchers have a huge amount to gain from engaging with social media in various aspects of their work. This guide has been produced by the International Centre for Guidance Studies, and aims to provide the information needed to make an informed decision about using social media and select from the vast range of tools that are available”

Not only is it a very useful guide but it features our very own Chris Jobling, whose Fresh and Crispy blog is listed as an example of academic research blogs in the Links and resources section http://www.rin.ac.uk/node/1009

Thanks to Katrina Dalziel @dalziel1 for the highlighting the guide

You can find the full guide here –

Hosted Drupal Sites for Social Networks

Drupal is an open source CMS framework that can and has been used to build all kinds of web sites (including Obama’s www.whitehouse.gov). It can also be used to build educational sites with elements of social networking (see Drupal in Education and Bill Fitzgerald’s book Drupal for Education and e-Learning, Packt Publishing, 2008).

Having encouraged my students to use Drupal for Web Sites in Distinguished Teaching Fellow and colleague Tim Davies’ Micromouse Group project (reported in SALT 2009 [video]), and having recently used it myself to develop a platform for managing dissertation projects (explanatory blog post to follow), I can testify that, out of the box, building a web site in Drupal falls into the “some technical experience” required category.

However, if you have a modicum of technical skill and patience, Drupal can be used to build all kinds of web sites including single or group blogging sites like WordPress; wikis; photo, video or podcast sharing site; e-commerce; a Ning or an Elgg; or a even a Moodle (see Byron et al. Using Drupal, O’Reilly, 2008). So it is with interest that I noted the availability of two newly available in beta hosted Drupal offerings that claim to make the building of a Drupal site much easier.
The first of these to be announced is Drupal Gardens, a new service being offered by Aquia. The second is Buzzr, a service that was created by Lullabot, one of the premier Drupal site architects, support and training company, which was launched last week. Both might be worth a look if you like the idea of building a personal web site, discussion site, module web site, social network or other community site to support your teaching.
Drupal Gardens provides an ad-funded free site and unlimited plans are available from $19.95 a month. Buzzr seems to be aimed more at enterprises and prices appear to start at $30 per month per site but it does provide a 60 day free trial. Both make a great virtue of having all the tools you need to build all kinds of sites, with branding and theming available through an easy to use drag and drop interface.
Both offerings support export which means that you can build a site under a free or trial basis, and then export your how web host for self hosting. If you take this option you will need a web server which supports PHP and MySQL, or a web hosting service that gives you these features.
Drupal is certainly at the more technical end of the social-networking options available to fill the vacuum left by Ning. But it is certainly the most flexible and would be worth considering if you wanted to build something that is more than WordPress, or more than Elgg, or more than Moodle. It wouldn’t be my recommendation if your needs are covered by one of the other more focused platforms.
If you want to find out more about Drupal, Lullabot produces a podcast series that, though often a bit techie, regularly discusses the platform, its development and it’s applications. Drupal itself has an excellent community web site (drupal.org) with documentation, discussion and module sharing.

Plan B

The recent Ning announcement was a particular blow to the HEFCw funded “Peer Support Network” project. It couldn’t have happened at a worse time: the 2009-2010 engineering research project is nearly over and the allocation process for 2010-2011 is about to begin. We need to roll over the students immediately, we won’t know the implications of staying with a paid version of Ning until May, and we can’t wait for a perfect alternative solution to come along.

Thus we have taken the decision to install Elgg, the open source community platform that once powered Oremi (fondly remembered, may it rest in peace) on to an Engineering Web server that I happen to have control of.
There are some immediate benefits:
  • We have control so the carpet can’t be pulled out from under us.
  • Elgg can host a whole school (or even University) and an unlimited number of groupings with the possibility of single-profile multi-group membership. Ning would have not played well in that space.
  • With the help of a plugin, it should be possible to use campus login in for authentication and control of access.
  • It plays well with Blackboard (see the Figure): Ning refused to run inside the Blackboard content frame. Students with a common login for Blackboard and Elgg need never really know that they’re different.
The disadvantages:
  • You need a web server to host Elgg on and some technical expertise to install it, set up the database and configure the system.
  • You need HTML, CSS and occasionally PHP skills to customize the system.
  • It’s open source so it will need to be maintained in-house.
If you are thinking of setting up social networks for your own students and have a longer lead-time, it may be better to wait for other solutions such as BuddyPress, Learning Objects Campus Pack Fusion or the community features of Blackboard 9.1. But we’re going for it in engineering and no doubt we’ll be able to report back in due course.

Remindo: A Ready to Wear Social Network for Swansea U?

I was intrigued enough by this blog post from Darrell Etherington at Web Worker Daily to sign up with remindo.com and in so doing, created a corporate social network for swansea.ac.uk!

On the face of it, this new beta social network service seems to have a lot going for it. It is focussed around group work and group communication with an emphasis on file sharing, shared calendars, to-do lists, milestones and twitter-like status updates. Anyone who signs up with a swansea.ac.uk email address immediately becomes a member of a Swansea University social network and presumably can invite other colleagues, form links with existing members and create new groups around departments and/or projects and participate in SU social networking.

However, once verified and signed in, I started to get a little nervous. The personal profile tool asks an awful lot of questions: including your home address and details of your pets and children. All this information, if provided, appears on your profile page and there is currently no feature, à la Facebook, for controlling who sees what. The terms of service and privacy policy indicate that this information is only shared within your network, and of course you may choose not to provide it. However, if provided it is of course available to remindo.com itself (and presumably, under warrant, agents of the US government), and the terms may change at some future date. In any case, it raised for me the spectre of possible identity theft, and I rapidly removed information that I thought should remain private – at least for now!

Maybe I was being paranoid as it seems (verified by logging out) that only members of the swansea.ac.uk network would actually have access to any personal information and data provided by members of the SU network. But it’s not 100% certain that it couldn’t leak out, and I guess that the merest possibility that such leaks could occur may be enough to make you, me and the management nervous.

In a sense, remindo.com is trying to do what Exchange and the intranet is supposed to do, albeit with a Web2.0-social-twittery-twist. I suspect that the corporate view would be that Exchange should be used for collaboration and sharing. The sad fact is though that it isn’t and the best alternative to have emerged on campus – Oremi – was sadly retired before it reached its full potential!

If I’ve intrigued rather than frightened you off and you’re willing to give it a go, visit remindo.com and see what you think!

The sweet spot in education

Martin Weller (from the Open University) has republished his presentation from a JISC Emerge conference on SlideShare and released it in a blog post entitled “Finding the Sweetspot Between Web 2 and Education“. The Sweet spot may actually be somewhere between formal instititutional e-learning systems and informal social networks and may have a lot to do with peer support and the gift economy.

Examples given include

  • two OU Facebook Applications (the first Course Profiles builds communities around OU courses, and the second, My OU Story, is aimed at building peer support networks for students)
  • SocialLearn a social network for the Open University and a platform for developing new types and models of learning
  • The EduPunk movement, and the video gifted to the community by Martin and mentioned in this august blog here.
  • and Twitter

A very interesting presentation with lots of food for thought!

more about “The sweet spot in education“, posted with vodpod