I am an evangelist (though not a fundamentalist), but I must admit the skeptics pushed me into a better understanding and a more profound look at social media and its possibilities.
The driving force behind adopting social media was my own professional isolation. When I first started working at my institute, I had only my fixed knowledge and some books to fall back on. So I needed to get in touch with colleagues outside of my institute to be able to stay in touch with best practices and failures you better avoid. After my first steps I started exploring its research possibilities.
What is your position on social media and why did you grow into that position?
Best wishes E.A.
I believe there is a huge potential in using social networking tools so, in that respect, I am evangelical about it. However, my evangelism is limited in scope. I want my colleagues to try the tools then assess their impact on student learning. If there is not a good fit, either with pedagogy or content, I would not press the case.
One element of concern I have might be considered a sign of skepticism, but there are so many ways to define social networking applications and so many layers of potential engagement, it is becoming hard to generalize about these tools.
Do you make a distinction in the tools you offer depending on the work (research - lectures...) that people are involved in?
I like your comment on the generalization of the social networking tools for the moment. It might be a good time to start dividing them in subcategories to allow us all to define specifically what is meant when we talk about social networking tools in discussions or meetings. (will think about this one and take it up with a later remark from Christine Horgan)
I also see your LexDis project is almost reaching its final phase. Am I right in assuming that you use social networking software for open science purposes as well, or do you use the software for keeping updated on the team members work and discussing topics?
In this case most of the examples I will show will be related to empirical research and some scholarly. At this point in time the research that is done by using social media is growing BUT there are only a few people that are willing to explore open science with open notebook approaches etcetera, this part I am really interested in.
But I did not want to exclude any participants, so I kept the initial idea of research very open.
Your profile indicates that you are also a consulter, but – if I make the right assumption – you mainly work with corporations? I would be very interested to know if any of the corporations or organizations you have been working with had teams that were willing to use social media and make it public when it concerned ongoing research or a project. Did you encounter any such projects? In my experience companies tend to be more defensive in using social media, especially outside the firewall or without the consent of the IT-department.
Actually, I bridge disciplines-- I teach leadership and team leadership online at the doctoral level for the Capella University School of Business and Technology. When I teach courses in team leadership learners work in teams to complete a project-- and use a variety of social media to work together.
I'll post more of an intro in the main thread.
Very good remark! In this case I meant to leave the definition very open to incorporate everyone's interpretation and slowly start to filter down to specific 'social media'. But as with the hyped term Web2.0 social media is open to a mix of interpretations.
But you are right I need to come clean! So the one I had in mind was very general although indeed slightly confined through boundaries: all tools that are web-based and allow discussion, commenting (in general: writing or speech-to-text in case writing can not be done physically); in addition these tools offer a way to easily archive through keywords (tags) or rewritable/shuffable features and so they are open to many. I kept out the ranking bit, or the techy/development/mash-upable side of it, but of course this is an open definition.
What I tend to use when I introduce social media to a crowd is this nice visual from Ross Dawson.
Although some voices are raised for categorizing social media tools, as you can see in the link David Millar send, within wikipedia the subdivisions are made on a gut-feeling, not based on educational methods.
But because you launched this question, I wonder if you have a selection in mind which would start a useful division of social media so please share your ideas on this?
If anyone is interested, I could attach a database of about 90 social networks comparing their features; now somewhat dated because I did the survey a year ago. Since then Facebook, MySpace, etc have developed some serious groups that go beyong "hook-up" and "I'm cool, you're cool".
I also have a Delicious compilation which anyone may use -- with tags "community" on social networks and their platforms, and "EE" for environmental organizations. These tags can also be accessed from the blog Towards a Moral Economy, in the blue tagcloud on the lower right side.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I immediately ran to your del.icio.us link and added you to my network (during summer break I want to catogorize mine). I can see that you are very engaged and aiming to make the world a great place to live, in that regard - related to the link you added - I think you might like the blog from Christian Kreutz, crisscrossed.net which is filled with great ICT4D links and blogposts.
As a freelance researcher do you keep an open public track of the things you research for yourself and possibly in relation to others?
I was using Compuserve forums 15 years ago - and they were a wonderful example of this; we could chat asynchronously and post and share files and photos. Strong social networks were formed, many of which still exist - although they migrated to other systems such as Yahoo groups when Compuserve sold out to AOL. I was stuck at home with babies and toddlers - so for me it was personal isolation that was the initial driver - but I was also a student with the UK OU, and it had its own online system - COSY (developed by the university of Guelph!) where social groupings of students flourished alongside the course related groups. My brother, 5years previously had been a very active member of a UK newsgroup... prior to that he'd been a radio ham.
in all of these cases the people concerned met up with each other in RL as well as conversed on line - even if great distances were involved. Some of these connections were driven by professional concerns, others by hobbies / interests,
I'm reminded of the "co-operative correspondence club" which has recently hit the news here
I think people are constantly looking for ways to make connections with like-minded individuals. The Internet, and the web in particular, have perhaps just made it easier to do that.
In short, I'm a big fan, but am not sure that it allows us to do anything qualitatively different to other forms of social networking.
Thank you so much for sharing this great history; you are indeed a true pioneer of social media.
It is great to find a fellow Compuserve user! My father (engineer) got me onto the Web because of the great Compuserve features. You are so right that in respect to science there is nothing new to using the Web as a great place to exchange knowledge. Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailleau actually had this in mind while they were building the Web.
The big difference now is that more people get the hang of it because the tools are becoming more intuitive (well some of them) and because more people use them and as such promote them. On the other side, I think the tools are getting necessary because they do enable a kind of content ranking which is needed in these times were one person can no longer specialize in one complete area due to the explosion of knowledge. So I also think this time is the right time for social media tools to be adopted by more people due to different social-economic factors.
In regard to your remark on anything qualitatively different, I do think there is a difference specifically because the wisdom of crowds got into the digital algorithm (will say so in the presentation tomorrow as well :-).
Do you have experience with open research and could you share these experiences with us as well?
Ignatia: I don't believe I'm an evangelist or a fundamentalist...perhaps a realist. The nature of my work brings me into contact with social media (and I'm assuming we have similar interpretations of the term). It's just another tool in my work.
I am an introvert (who manages to function because I've managed to learn how to be what I call a "situational extrovert") and I am more and more finding that I do not want to even be on a computer when I leave the workplace and so my use of social media is now strictly limited to what I must do through my work.
Has anyone given any thought, is there any research, is there a profile of users? When people end up rejecting social media "tools," why?
Yes, with me the social media tools are just another tool in my work as well, but I must admit they make a lot of difference in terms of a professional network. Because I am rather isolated with the work I do (experience and knowledge wise) I am very happy that those new tools exist to get in touch with other eLearning professionals that are willing to share.
The drop-out of social media users is interesting. Because although literature speaks about digital natives (just linking digital natives Harvard and their wiki) I did come across some voices that stated that some learners – although young – feel more comfortable with non-computer lead courses (searching like mad to find the link… but to no avail, if I find it I will post it).
As the profile of users, in the first place it will always be the innovators and early adopters, I would guess the people follow their character a bit like the model for the adoption and diffusion of innovations by Rogers.
Scobleizer just published a post on early adopter angst.
I am an evangelist for social media that promotes online collaboration.
I include in my thinking about "social media" live meeting software (such as Elluminate, Vyew or WizIQ) and Second Life as well as online communities using asynchronous forums, wikis and resource archives. I am on Facebook and Linked In and love YouTube but don't use them extensively.
I teach online and give lots or webinars for educators and professionals, so I am interested in social media tools I can use to further these activities.
I am interested in this discussion because I am interested in using online tools for scholarly research. I am currently working on a book that will be published by Sage next year: Online Interviews in Real Time. I am focusing on the use of synchronous online tools for research interviews. If anyone here is conducting research interviews online and would be willing to discuss your experiences with me, you can contact me off-list.
I will take out your request for online tools for scholarly research and add it to a question related to tools and subdivisions earlier on.
Could you give an example of what you mean with research interviews and especially why they would be different than other online interviews?
What I have used as an easy-to-use interview tool is tokbox. This has the great advantage that you must install it, but the people you are inviting do not have to install it. So they can just log in with their webcam. Also good video quality.
I am referring to interviews used as data collection for a study-- with participants who have agreed to participate in the research, human subjects IRB has been obtained etc. My own research is qualitative but people also use interviews for data collection in mixed methods research.
Where I work we use asynchronous data collection, but we also do some life data output based on live data coming in from epidemics or similar research (Kevin Q. Harvey might be the person to contact if you are interested in this, he is the Assistant Director of Development for the Center for Advancement of Distance Education (CADE) in the School of Public Health at the University of Illinois at Chicago and they have a project to train medics for pandemics which includes live data). The eLearning Guild has been using it as well to put out there member's data (Steve Wexler is a person you might want to contact if this has your interest).
The great thing about Kevin Harvey is that they worked on the first Clinic (based on the real clinic) in Second Life. The simulations of the pandemic are also in SL.
Hope these people can help you.
Yet, I think most of us constructivist-type educational techies see the alignment between the web 2.0 concept and our hopes for quality learning environments (active engagement with peers and content, rich media available in a variety of modalities, use of real-world tools, moving beyond passive consumption, etc.).
Between general busy-ness and entrenched beliefs and ways of acting in the education world, however, social media innovations are not going to happen overnight. We need more thinking from a change management perspective, not either/or in/out skeptic/believer dichotomies. Educational change management references I recommend: Concerns-Based Adoption Model (Hall, Hord, et al.), Fullan, ACOT, Ely, Rogers ...
(BTW, I would add Twitter [my username: jjulius] to the short list of tools/venues where I see meaningful dialogue/connection occurring between people interested in instructional technology.)
I must agree with you that social media is not a the magic thing to enhance education not in digital natives, not in digital migrants. The hype that surrounds social media does give a feeling of unease. And I completely agree with you Jim that educational change management is essential to keep everyone within the educational system on the right track to enhance learning.
@Twitter, this serves me also as a very quick wisdom resource, my twitter is Ignatia, feel free to connect.
Just want to link the computer-supported collaborative learning page.
And a European research project on pedagogically sustained learning in CoP: the Palette program for anyone interested in learning research.
Another learning science connected project which looks into Web2.0 and higher education is "The pattern language project" which is a multi-institutional collaboration (just copy/pasting a bit of their goal: The project will develop a system to support a community of HE practitioners, who are using Web 2.0 in assessment, learning and teaching, to capture and share their examples of good practice as patterns. This system will include a collaborative software tool, clear processes for capturing and using patterns and a growing pattern language which provides reusable knowledge about how to use Web 2.0 technology in learning, drawn from examples of success.)
I do agree that social media is a new frontier in a way that it brings people together on a global scale, using some of the basic people skills. For researchers (both empirical scientists, learning theory researchers...) this new technology is in need for a in-depth research itself and the first projects start to emerge, but yes, at this point there is still a lot that needs to be looked at.
On the other hand a lot of researchers still are not using social media (broad sense) although they could benefit from it personally (my opinion).
Even if the effectiveness is only starting to get proven but (as this article concludes) It is necessary to take into account the fact that too few innovators and early adopters are actually using Web 2.0 technology to enhance existing learning behaviors.
This also pushes the idea that if more researchers would adopt social media tools, it could have a real impact on research as well.
For me, virtual networking made all the difference (up to now). I got invited to give online lectures, it helped me become part of an online think-tank for European ICT funding and it enhanced my knowledge on TELearning/eLearning.
But I do admit, I kept on speaking at conferences, where I met knowledgeable people and afterwards stayed in contact with them through social media. So my network is fifty-fifty on IRL and purely virtual.
Could you tell us whether you switched completely to online applications for a while to exchange knowledge? And for how long you have been using social media before turning into a more sceptical user?
This might be an interesting pattern to consider, where is the threshold that makes a person to decide one or the other.
Could you tell us whether you switched completely to online applications for a while to exchange knowledge? And for how long you have been using social media before turning into a more sceptical user?
After attending George Siemens’ online conference on Connectivism (1 1/2 years ago) and being very impressed by the interaction. I jumped on board Facebook, Skype, Del.icio.us, Second Life, 32 NING groups (they seem to breed). I'd did have a blog and wiki for a year prior to that which I use for faculty development, but I added more.
I attended no face-to-face conferences that year and poured a lot of energy into reading and writing blogs, wikis etc. Although the readership of my blogs and wikis are very good, I receive no comments; the interaction that Web2.0 is hyped for. I find myself printing articles I've posted and including them in workshop material for face-to-face workshops where they generate discussion and feedback. I'm close to the point of jettisoning my blogs and going back to publishing on a website, where I could organize content better. I still really like social bookmarking, but more for the bookmarking, less for the social.
I also found similar patterns on Facebook and NING. I receive mass mailings of sentimental postcards and minimal real communication. I rarely sign in to any of them now. My 20-year-old daughter mentions similar frustrations with Facebook and MySpace. My medical students describe both as a waste of time.
I've used online book discussion and Elluminate sessions with more interactive success. Because people have to sign up for a specific time, I think they feel more of a commitment to participate.
So yes, maybe it is early adopter syndrome and my expectations are too high.
I so agree... I too entered Facebook land, but found it generally to be a waste of time. The sentimental cartoons and pithy poetry sent en masse from friends of friends really detracted from the value of the space for me.
I am enjoying these SCOPE and Elluminate sessions, webinars, and podcasts as a much more intellectually challenging and efficient way to communicate with colleagues.
I am not an early adopter, nor am I a sceptic... just too busy to jump from blog to space to wiki to whatever is the next flavour of the month.
But don't you think that in life (whether First, Second or other) there are those who are satisfied or entertained by the sentimental and pithy, and those who want to think, inquire and dig deeply? The technologies are just tools. Let's use them in ways that make sense and are relevant to our lives and work.
As for the topic of this session-- research-- I find a range of technology tools to be quite useful for exploring the deeper questions!
I do agree that the sentimental stuff does have a place in whatever life, but I question its relevance and purpose in the academic, research life. I know I am sounding a wee bit like an academic snob looking down from the ivory tower (that is SO not the case), but I wonder whether it is the overwhelming volume of the "less-than-scholarly" uses of the Web is one reason why I get SO many raised eyebrows when I say I am doing my PhD via distance from a perfectly legitimate university (University of South Australia. Adelaide... plug, plug)...
I just put together a research proposal for a small project, and I had to agree with the "powers that be" about a Web-based survey to a finite group of participants as a legitimate data collection tool... then it was "what do you mean you want to have face-to-face interviews with people via Elluminate???"...
It is issues such as these that make this conversation so important (that, and I am completely biased towards the benefits of technologically-based education and reasearch... my job and my doctoral research!!).
Technology is truly changing the way we learn, discover, collaborate, and live.... ummmmm AMEN...
But in the opennotebook experience that Jean-Claude (see always open thread) is into there is something really interesting. He links all the social media together so basically making a social media landscape focussed on specific content. This way you can use the applications for your own content goals.
I like to be focussed.
These two apps really made a difference as to motivate me. Apart from that I started to increase the posts I left behind on other blogs and I listened to the advice of problogger.
To me web2.0 is at his best if it is used specifically for professional ends. That way you know why you use it and when to use what (although I will post this as a separate question, because it keeps popping up as a possible difficulty).
Facebook and similar: totally agree!
Thank you so much for sharing, this is something I feel everyone comes across, the only thing is what to decide after that feeling.
What it tells me is that I am hitting my target audience and often giving them good answers to their questions. There are other free services out there that do something similar - Google Analytics is another good one.
Excellent points. People are busy, used to consuming ased on other passive media, and there are a million competing sites and online things to do. I teach doctoral courses online so by the time I finish the interactions involved there, I do need once in awhile to go outside (I DO live in Colorado where it is beautiful). IMHO a key (which we see with SCoPE) is having time-limited, focused events, with a moderator or subject matter expert.
I've been giving webinars different places, and I'm liking the live interaction they allow.
I agree with many of the points made; finding active networks is hard; blogs can get few comments - I feel that in theory, for every post I make, I ought to do at least one comment - in order to try to redress the imbalance. Unfortunately, I don't have time to comment on every post that I read. And, I assume my audience has the same view.
Others have mentioned "Ning", and the need to login to 3,000 different communities there. That's something I also agree with & as such find Ning hard to recommend to students - as it makes it hard for them to see their overall contributions to different communities, in the way that they can with, say Facebook. That said, I don't particularly like facebook, but I feel that it is useful, as others are there. It's almost akin to the days when I used to go into the smoking room at break times when I was teaching in schools. Not because I smoked, but my friends did & if I wanted to talk to them, I had to go there.
Like others, I'm neither evangelist nor sceptic. I think that Social media has a lot to offer, BUT, it's not for everyone, nor for every event. The problem that we have with using it is that even for the keen users, not all like the same platform; and, currently, many social media tools are rather blackhole-ish. You have to be in them to benefit from the information, and if a particular site doesn't suit anyone for whatever reason, then you have a problem. Roll on "proper" OpenSocial