Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Modeling social media in groups, communities, and networks

I'm filling in this placeholder with links to my presentation at the AVEALMEC/ARCALL online conference on Social Networking, November 5-8, 2009, http://avealmec.org.ve/.
My presentation is entitled Modeling social media in groups, communities, and networks. The presentation took place November 6, 2009, at 18:30 GMT.
As the presentation was on knowledge dissemination and sharing throughout networks, it naturally touched on Creative Commons, so I took care to license the presentation with the attribution 3.0 license. I selected jurisdiction to be USA but I could have left it "unported"; anyone know what ramifications that would have?

Creative Commons License
Modeling social media in groups, communities, and networks by Vance Stevens is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at advanceducation.blogspot.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://vancestevens.com.

If you have any comments on the presentation, you are most welcome to make them here.

Monday, October 19, 2009

AVEALMEC Conference on Social Networking November 5-8, 2009

In the picture you can see a group of people I'll be joining in early November at a conference with infinite heart but no walls. But I'm having a heck of a time getting the slide show done for my presentation there because I'm so distracted. I'm up before dawn. I was looking for graphics till late last night searching Google Images and Flickr and Creative Commons for images I can use in my presentation. This alone could take hours wandering through other people's flights of fancy, which they have elected to SHARE; to allow me to put online if I will only acknowledge their hand in their own work, to pay forward to the community (Mireille's term on Webcast Academy). Creating a slide show for a respected audience is a journey where every step takes you halfway there; you never arrive!

I stop to reflect here, how did I KNOW about Creative Commons, and what it means? How did I know I could find CC images at Flickr and the Creative Commons website, and turn the license filter on for Google Images? Did I read that somewhere or hear it word of mouth? Yes, I did, but not in a book or in any traditional media. As we speak, Twitter is constantly bleeping my radar, and even my Gmail is flooding me with messages on the latest SCoPE seminar, The Art of Teaching (looks to be a great one). I just joined the Educator's PLN Ning ... now that's kind of a mirror within a mirror, messages are coming through for existing participants to Twitter in more (yet another layer of mirror within mirror).

I'm not sure what's going on with George Siemens's and Stephen Downes's CCK09 at the moment but I heard on EdTech Weekly that it had only a few hundred participants, not bad for a free online course, but down from its mega-status of thousands in its initial rendition. I know that Alec Couros is giving an interesting Open Course at the moment (which I had every intention of joining but never did), and Leigh Blackall is starting one as well, both of these inviting participants from anywhere, for whatever reason or benefit they hope to gain from it. I've never met either Alec or Leigh, but I've invited both to give keynote talks at WiAOC free online conferences, and both readily agreed. Why? Heike Philp has offered to try and set up a live synchronous discussion online with anyone her PLN suggests. Someone said, ok, I'd like to talk with Noam Chomsky. So she asked him, he agreed, she set up the discussion, and now anyone can replay the recording. News about all these events reaches not just me but everyone in my extended social network in ways we didn't have available last year, last month, yesterday even ... how about tomorrow, Google Wave anyone?

These events and courses have a wonderful dynamic, one that I apply instinctively to the EVO Multiliteracies course I'm about to moderate again. I don't really have time for any of these courses, nor for preparing for my ALVEALMEC presentation for that matter. My professional development cup runneth over with creative juices that spill in all directions. Matt Montaigne is one of these teachers who seems to be everywhere at once, pushing people forward in their learning with this project and that (Earth Day webcasts, for example, on the Worldbridges Network). I was surprised to hear him say on a recent EdTechTalk shows that these efforts were chaos, he gets them started and then they just surge this way and that and leave messes that no one sees and no one mops up, but enough energy reaches the target that the impression is one of sustained and directed effort. Why am I surprised? I'm like that. I imagine many creative people are, minds as cluttered as an artist's atelier. It would be interesting to sound some of the other presenters at this conference on social networking out on exactly that topic.

This is how energy is harnessed and channeled in a PLN. It's messy. And while trying to focus on meeting an arbitrary deadline to prepare slides for a presentation to be given two weeks hence (if it were two days, I would be genuinely focused; there's nothing like a real deadline!) I am moving all over the network that brought me to this point. If not for the network, I would not have been given the opportunity to make the presentation. If not for the network, I'd be able to actually put this presentation together in a timely manner. But you can't have the upside without the downside, so we need to get used to it, and revel in it!

Seth Godin has introduced the notion of "tribes" as being groups of people who congeal around an idea that some dominant figure within that tribe leads. Switching conventional notions on its head, charisma he says, is not what the leader needs to attract followers, it's what the leader gets from the act of leading others, or better said, moving to the forward position where the leader appears to be at the head of where the tribe was going in the first place. It's an interesting concept, and hopefully a tribe is something that can be subsumed in the framework of the talk I'm giving at AVEALMEC.

In this brief posting I've again taken a step leading me only halfway to my destination. But each step needs to end (even as the destination shifts like an amorphous paradigm. Wasn't it just there? Where is it now?) so I'll wrap up this thought. Where have I arrived in this step? This posting has been about the role of a network of peers and their peers which is constantly channeling us information which we can use to convert to the knowledge that makes us interesting enough that others will invite us to speak at gatherings ranging in formality from conferences (online or face to face) to ad hoc discussions (again, online or face to face).

If you follow this out to its logical end, it means that any of us in the network is potentially interesting enough, and therefore no better than, anyone who is speaking to them at a conference. I say potentially, because the information is there, but it has to be aggregated and processed into knowledge, and then be communicated effectively. Some people are better at that than others, or simply have more time. The network provides the information but the better the network the more time it consumes. Those of us who are getting used to that reality are reveling in it, and exuding an energy that makes us want to share our passion with others, like those who created and shared the graphics that I'll put in my presentation, as part of the scaffolding on the launching pad I am trying to create for the talk I plan to give at AVEALMEC.

The more I learn about this conference, the more I see of the buildup and the accumulation of artifacts on the web, the more I anticipate being a part of it. I'm looking forward to savoring the aggregation of content and hearing what the speakers have to say. This conference has a very appealing look and feel. It's being done right. Congratulations to those putting it on! For more information: http://avealmec.org.ve/

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Personas and the multiliterate curriculum vitae

I just posted this to YouTube:

"In a multiliterate society as it is emerging in the 21st read-write century, it may be that curriculum vitae in formats such as this one will replace the paper-based versions prevalent in the 20th read-only century. The distinctions between centuries were made by Lawrence Lessig, and Personas is an M.I.T. project from http://personas.media.mit.edu/ designed to reveal anyone's webpresence."

(Incidentally, I'm fortunate to have a unique name; all the output shown in this screencast is about me, but it doesn't work like that for everyone ;-)

Another interesting site that will aggregate content on your name is http://addictomatic.com

To make the screencast, I used Camstudio to produce an almost 400 megabyte AVI file. I then used VideoSprintLight (reviewed here: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/convert-video-files-to-dvd-mp4-vcd-mpeg-windows/) to create an MP4 version of only 77 megabytes.

It was crucial to do the conversion on my PC because I was having trouble (facing 4 hours upload time, not counting timeouts and retries) to upload the AVI directly to YouTube, and I figured I'd have the same problem sending it to Zamzar, or ConvertFiles, or Media Converter.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Social Networking for students and teachers who only know Facebook

Struggling with my muses on a challenging project, I confided in a Facebook update: "I'm trying to write teaching materials to explain social networking to students and teachers who know little about the topic beyond Facebook. It's difficult."

To my surprise my off-the-cuff remark brought numerous comments (my social network in support; thanks, social network :-)). I decided that these responses deserved more elaboration than would be possible in a comment on my own status update (hence, this blog post).

Basically I'm trying to update what my colleagues and I have been teaching as "computer literacy" for the past several years. Our students' sophistication with computers changes year to year, and what seemed reasonable five years ago as an introduction to computing might seem simplistic and outmoded today.

I was fortunate to have been given the opportunity to revise some of the materials we introduce to students as "computer literacy" and thus articulate some of the concepts which I think our students should be aware of in order to consider themselves technologically literate in the 21st century, where there is general agreement among educators who concern themselves with such matters that a new skill set is emerging to prepare young people to be able to adapt to “jobs that haven’t been invented yet.”

My materials include a lesson on Google Docs (a popular example of doing in the ‘cloud’ something we have till recently been doing almost exclusively on our PC’s). This lesson also gets the students into the Google system, which they’ll need for the lessons involving Google Reader.

Google Reader is one of the topics in my lessons on Social Networking. These lessons focus on three key concepts: RSS, tagging, and aggregation.

The first lesson has us taking a look at aggregation, an excellent illustration of which can be found at http://addictomatic.com/. I have our students put in ADNOC and OPEC as these are safe and also could lead to a discussion of how this works (if students explore some of the aggregators used, which reveals a lot about what aggregators there are and how they work).

In the second lesson we have a look at blogs, but as observers only. It seems unreasonable to require teachers to themselves create blogs in such a short time, though this could be a technique any teacher could use to work with students on these materials. As observers we follow blogs through their RSS feeds, so I’m suggesting some blogs I hope will intrigue our students. I also have some practical examples of RSS at work (RSS is a KEY concept, absolutely essential).

Another key concept is that of tagging. For this I use Delicious, adapting materials I've already created some time ago.

This brings me to the last lesson. I was thinking of a lesson on how to develop a network of worthy peers. Social Networking is much talked about, I heard the term repeatedly on mainstream TV news just this morning, on both Al Jazeera and BBC. So I think students and teachers might be primed to learn more about it, but the hurdle for most people (the trick, or the hard part) is seeding that network in such a way that it develops into something that will feed you the kind of information that will transform your learning (which is what some people say it does).

One web application that’s having a great impact on information dissemination is Twitter. I’m thinking at the moment to create that final lesson on Twitter. Again this would iinvolve students as observers (in illustration of concepts introduced here). It wouldn't be necessary for our teachers or students to create their own Twitter accounts but they would be able to see other people’s Ttwitter streams and follow those in RSS and tag them in Delicious.

In both blogs and Twitter you can see where people who have interesting things to say are getting their information. This is in fact how you leverage your own network, since you can find others whose blogs and Twitter feeds you can explore. My post just previous to this one (http://advanceducation.blogspot.com/2009/08/new-webheads.html) described how Twitter Mosaic could be used to plumb the networks of other respected colleagues, who could in turn plumb yours.

I published this post on August 27, 2009. Meanwhile I got this from my Twitter stream, which I can't possibly absorb in its entirety but which I pop into now and then for whatever pearls have been cast before me and frequently emerge with something spot on. This is an article published September 1 in Times Higher Education on exactly the topic I'm getting at here. As Russell Stannard explains, "The idea of Twitter is to network with other people who are working in the same area as you. You send 'tweets' of interesting articles, websites and the like, and you receive similar tweets from the people you follow. Soon your Twitter account becomes a constant flow of interesting information from people who are plugged into your area. So how do you create these networks? It’s probably here where most people stumble. The easiest way to build up your contacts is to 'piggyback'. You search for well-known people who are working in your area then click on all their followers. You can guess that most of the people who follow them will be interested in similar things to you." http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?sectioncode=26&storycode=407984&c=2

I couldn't have said it better myself! Thus your network is seeded, and it flourishes when you start interacting with it (going from passive to active would be the next step, but is outside the scope of my too brief introduction).

Icing on the cake: I see from my Twitter feed Sept 2, 2009 that colleagues in my network are actually reading this article. Thanks Cristina, and others re-tweeting!

And finally, this late-breaking addendum (Sept 10, 2009)

I've published the materials I alluded to here and I'm ready to share the URLs.

I'd appreciate any feedback, but keep in mind that they are pitched at my work context of EFL students just entering college. The materials are meant to be used in a classroom context where video media cannot be counted on to function, and pitched at students AND teachers who are only slowly emerging from a paper-based and teacher-centric pedagogical environment. That latter stipulation means that for the teachers themselves this is their first contact with some of the concepts here and they can't be made to feel that they are fish out of water when 'teaching' to a class of students who are in general have not embraced web 2.0 and social networking. So for people already learning through social networks, it's scaled back a bit, but I'm sharing in case you have a need for such materials, and also in case you might give me ideas for improvement.
Also I was working on a 4th lesson in social networking, "Starting your own network," when I ran out of time (I needed to get the materials into teacher and student hands AND realized teachers would run out of time in the 3 weeks allocated to the course originally). However, I plan to add that fourth unit at a later date. An inkling of what is to come can be found here: http://advanceducation.blogspot.com/2009/08/new-webheads.html

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The New Webheads

The Webheads "gallery" (the one here: http://vancestevens.com/papers/evonline2002/webheads_evo.htm) has become well-known within certain distributed learning networks. Webheads arose in a Web 1.0 era and its webmaster-maintained artifacts have long been overtaken by Web 2.0 ones.

I stumbled on Twitter Mosaic http://sxoop.com/twitter/ via one of Hala Fawzi's blogs: http://englishonlinects.blogspot.com/.

Voila! The new Webheads gallery (happily most of those spam followers seem to have been filtered out when their accounts were suspended; I wonder if this updates live :-). Incidentally if you don't want someone appearing in your mosaic you can click on that person's avatar to delete it from the final result, simple.

This visualization has allowed me to see my personal learning network in a new light. This is the first visualization that I've become aware of where I could picture my network so clearly. Each thumbnail has a mouse-over that not only reveals a Twitter user name, but lets you click on the user name and pull up a Twitter profile. At that profile I can have a look at the follower's posts and if I think I'd like to see more posts like that, I can conveniently follow that person right then and there.

Anyone can do the same. That is, you can pull up my network in this way (you don't need my password) and I can pull up yours. So if I want to see who is in your network I can generate a mosaic like this and I can click on people and follow them if I have that much respect for your network that I would go to that trouble (and I just did that with someone in my network to test it out, respect!).

A final comment, I've discovered that at least two people in my network are no longer of this world. That's sad on one level, but on another, there's more respect again in networks where people can remain virtually after they have gone, where the work they have accomplished lives on in a sort of immortal online presence.

Get your twitter mosaic here.