Posts tagged social media
Last month I gave a presentation on Social Media for students, teachers, researchers & job-hunters to staff & students at the School of Engineering at the University of Greenwich. The talk was organised by the Greenwich Student branch of IEEE who were great hosts. There is a recording of the talk on their IEEE branch website. It’s a bit of a messy talk because of the mixed audience I was trying to reach and it suffers for that.
New Handbook on Social Media
A Handbook of Social Media for researchers and supervisors was recently published by Vitae. It’s a mammoth (140-page!!), comprehensive guide. If you want to dip in I’d suggest start by reading chapters 2 & 3 which highlight the research findings. I’ll try to summarise them here too.
The handbook is based on research including surveys of 105 researchers & 45 supervisors as well as a detailed literature review. Their findings show that researchers are using social media tools for research discourse related to six functions:
- formal dialogue with supervisors
- informal interactions with peers and supervisors
- documentation (authoring, storing, exchanging)
- space for reflection
- engaging with the community
- keeping themselves informed
The handbook also reports:
- Firstly the traditional: Face-to-face interactions with supervisors and peers are key in research dialogues; Email is the most important tool; Preference for traditional mailing lists
- But: Wide scale adoption of social media tools; Advantages of participating in and interacting with social media tools such as bringing dispersed researchers together; Experimenting with different combinations of tools, evaluating them and giving up some of them
- Relationships: Researchers introduce each other to technologies; Sometimes supervisors block the adoption of technologies; Researchers choose technologies and adapt as per their supervisors’ preferences
- Concerns include: Intellectual property, the time spent on social media tools, Maintaining professional and personal boundaries, storing files in the cloud.
Over the next few months, Farzana Latif (School of Health Sciences) and I will be investigating the possible uses of OpenBadges at City. OpenBadges are based on the same idea as the ones awarded to Scouts: they are a visual recognition that a person has mastered a particular skill. Skills acquisition is a very important part of learning, but formal qualifications often mask these in favour of examination results, so we want to look at whether there would be benefits in introducing a badges-based mechanism to enable students to show their skills and competencies, in addition to their grades. This project is being supported by the Learning Development Centre as one of their Learning Development Projects for 2012/13, and would be interested in hearing from City staff and students who want to give us their views.
OpenBadges been developed by the Mozilla Foundation (makers of the Firefox web browser among other things) specifically with education in mind, and so have security and verification features built into them which mean that it very difficult for a student to fake their award. They can also be set to expire automatically, so could be used for other purposes such as limited-time authorisations.
Skills are acquired in all disciplines, some of them common to most, such as academic writing, and others specific to particular ones. The following is a list of example skills that badges could be used to expose and ‘certify’, and how they might benefit students and staff:
- A nursing student is required to learn particular clinical skills, but on completion of the module the specifics skills learned become clouded by the grade for the assessments. With badges, it would be possible for the student to build a public profile that showcases the specific skills he acquired during the module.
- A mechanical engineering student needs to have undertaken general safety training and a specific training session prior to being able to use a particular piece of equipment, and needs a refresher every year. With badges, it becomes possible to check whether a student has completed the necessary training before allowing them on the equipment. The badges would automatically expire each year and so the badges would always be current.
- Two computing students are on the same programme. One takes elective modules in advanced programming and the other takes electives on systems analysis. On completion of their modules the students are awarded badges that highlight their chosen specialism.
- A student is elected president of one of the student union societies. On completion of her term of office she is awarded a badge to ‘certify’ this fact.
- A supervisor uses badges to help identify whether a particular student has the necessary skills to undertake a proposed final project.
One institution that has already implemented a badge-based recognition system is Purdue University in the US. There, students can earn badges and then produce profiles which show of different combinations of them, so that employers can see the ones that are relevant to them.
There is growing interest in the use of badges to recognise informal learning and skills acquisition, and this project should allow City to make an informed decision about whether they are right for us. So please add any comments you may have below.
Earlier this month, the Mozilla Foundation announced an interesting new free online tool, Popcorn Maker.
Popcorn Maker is an online service that lets people take a video from YouTube, Vimeo or other online source and add layers of extra information. These can be simple things like text, photos and links, but the really interesting ones are the live, interactive ones, such as live twitter feeds and Google maps.
The original video is not modified and doesn’t need to be owned by you either, so you can re-purpose third-party materials to add new learning contexts. A nice feature is that any video edited using Popcorn Maker, can be easily ’remixed’ by others, so people can build on each other’s work.
The tool all runs in a web browser (Mozilla’s Firefox preferred, of course) and works like a very basic video editor. You simply drop elements onto the video timeline and configure them in a side menu.
It looks like a promising tool – imagine a video about a landmark event and being able to browse around a map of the location or read more on the related Wikipedia article, all as part of the video. It will certainly cause people to start to rethink the purpose of video for learning.
Here are the highlights of the UCISA Social Media for Training Conference which I attended on 18th April.
More effective meetings
As part of the JISC funded Developing Digital Literacies programme, Joe Nicholls from Cardiff University has done a staff development workshop on ‘More effective meetings’ which introduces a number of exciting online tools for effective meetings and collaboration. Below are a few recommendations: