PIDP 3240, Journal # 4, End of Course Reflection, The Role of Social Media in Education
The 3240 Media Enhanced Learning Course offered three options and I chose Social Media as the most relevant. This course required class participation in online video conferencing with ooVoo or Skype, the development of a personal Resource Blog and collaboration with classmates in the development of a Wiki on Copyright in Education. Additionally there were requirements for a contribution to the SIE Technology and Trends blog as well as four Journal Entries including this final entry. The intention of the course was to make participants more familiar and facile with the role of web based digital conventions including blogs, wikis, Twitter and Facebook in education. A total of eight weeks was allotted for completion of the course requirements.
This was the last of seven courses in the PIDP and the one I dreaded the most. While I have a reasonable level of facility with computers, writing and document formatting as well as e mail and web searches, the subject matter and assignments were well beyond my comprehension and comfort level. Combined with the work load of the PIDP and my personal and professional obligations, the first try at the course resulted in a melt down and withdrawal and the second course was cancelled and rescheduled. The passage of time and completion of all the other PIDP courses did little to diminish my apprehension and merely allowed my discomfort with the 3240 to become all consuming. At one point I penned a cathartic missive to my instructors describing the 3240 as a “black hole that sucked the light off the rest of the PIDP”. Those were some of my kinder musings!
As we drew closer to Christmas and the due date for completion of the assignments, my classmates and I realized we needed more time and applied for a four week extension, a courtesy that has been requested and extended on every one of my PIDP courses. With the passing of the holidays and further attrition in our ranks to just two of us, my resolve crumbled and I was filled with dread at the prospect of failing to complete the course and having the PIDP founder and hang like a millstone around my indolent and beleaguered neck; in perpetuity.
Then one day while bumbling abjectly through the class web site I inadvertently discovered my instructor’s marks on my dreaded blog and Tech and Trends assignment and was flabbergasted to behold my unexpected marks and his words of encouragement. It was the penultimate turning point in the course and like a drowning man catching sight of a distant shore, I was filled with hope and began to swim with purpose. I arrived here at the eleventh hour completing this final entry with a deep sense of relief and pride at a hard won accomplishment.
The PIDP and this course has taught me that web based digital media and social networking are inescapable facts of modern life. Mere existence much less forward progress is near impossible in academia or business without these conventions and former naysayers like myself are left to expire breathless on the ever steepening back slope of the digital divide. Digitally mediated learning is increasingly a common expectation of institutions, educators and students. At best today’s learner can expect a blend of online and distant learning supported by a minimum of face to face class time. Most adult learners will be faced with requirements by employers and professional associations to maintain or upgrade essential skills through digital media. The role of social media in education while embryonic and lacking an agreed focus, is nonetheless ubiquitous. Acquaintances and colleagues increasingly rely on web sites, blogs, Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook to communicate and, with the advent of smart phones and mobile connectivity to the web, expect like subscription and facility. Facebook and Twitter are increasingly relied on for scheduling, micro blogging and even in class tools for engagement and discussion. Social media in education is a fact of life that is increasingly influencing and shaping educational agendas and process.
Through the PIDP and 3240 class I have achieved a personal and professional goal of developing a web profile through my blog and will continue to develop this tool to best represent me to friends and colleagues as well as current and prospective clients. I now have a fledgeling profile on Linkedin which is already drawing the attention of many of my peers. Although I have a Twitter account I haven’t yet developed an informed facility with this convention but intend to. The jury is still out on Facebook and although I continue to harbor a negative bias towards the ubiquitous and potentially intrusive nature of this social networking phenomenon, I’m increasingly open minded and curious as to how it may serve me as a professional and educator. The 3240 has better prepared me in unexpected ways to meet the expectations and challenges of social media in education and I intend to apply and build on the lessons learned to both mine and my learner’s benefit.
PIDP 3240 Journal # 3, Twitter in Education
This youtube video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GFP07a3ThAs) dated October 2010 features a review by Kelly Walsh on the use of twitter in education and focuses on a posting on his EmergingEdTech website on 100 Ways to Teach With Twitter;
Walsh describes the posting as one of the most popular on this website and goes on to cite Twitter as having more than 100 million worldwide users and growing by over 300 thousand new users daily.
Twitter (https://twitter.com/about) describes their service as;
“ a real-time information network that connects you to the latest stories, ideas, opinions and news about what you find interesting. Simply find the accounts you find most compelling and follow the conversations.”
Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twitter) describes Twitter as;
“an online social networking service and microblogging service that enables its users to send and read text-based messages of up to 140 characters, known as “tweets“.”
Wikipedia states that Twitter was created in 2006 and has over 500 million users as of 2012 and is further described as “The SMS (Short Messaging Service) of the Internet”.
Walsh cites statistics indicating a growing use of Twitter by educators and goes on to describe various perceptions and reactions, both positive and negative to this social networking tool and phenomenon. Some educators see the use of Twitter as an effective way to promote learner engagement in the classroom with benefits outweighing the risks of distraction or frivolous use. Others perceive Twitter as merely another distraction and impediment.
I took the time to review the EmergingEdTech post on this subject and examine some of the posts and links. Christine Morris Vlog (http://vimeo.com/3369021) offered interesting insights into both the potential for using Twitter and the the challenges bringing this tool into the classroom. Many of her learners lacked basic understanding or facility with Twitter and considerable time was spent developing a base level of facility to work from. Morris remained enthusiastic about bringing this tool into her classroom and approach to teaching.
Next to Facebook, Twitter appears to me to be the next most visible social networking tool in use today.
Although I’m increasingly aware of information and opinions being “tweeted” through media coverage and my own growing exposure to this media through the PIDP 3240, I’m still not well informed as to how this tool works or how I will use it. I would have to say that my perception of social networking particularly through Facebook has been negative. I’m openly resistant to using Facebook yet somehow perceive Twitter as a more functional and less invasive social networking tool that I’m willing to carefully explore.
I can appreciate how social networking through Facebook and Twitter is a fact of life today and accept that except in limited critical situations, more and more people, especially young urbanites, will be using Facebook and Twitter in workplaces, classrooms and learning environments.
Used carefully, Twitter may be an effective tool for increasing learner engagement.
As a consequence of this journal exercise in conjunction with the PIDP 3240 class I now have a Twitter account on both my laptop and smartphone. Although I haven’t used this tool yet, I plan to become more familiar and comfortable with it and remain open to how it will help me better connect to friends, colleagues and clients. How I will use Twitter as an educator remains to be seen but I am increasingly open minded to the possibilities.
Morris, Christine http://vimeo.com/3369021
Using Twitter in Education,
PIDP 3240 Journal # 2, Building on the Social Layer
This journal entry examines the TED Talk presentation, “The Game Layer on Top of the World” presented by Seth Priebatsch July 2010. Seth suggests this conversation is important because in his words, “ There is a game layer on top of the world and that it’s important that we build it properly.”
He outlines the two layers required, the first being the Social Layer and the connections it provides necessary for building the game layer on. The building of this social layer has taken place, identify’s the past decade’s focus and is manifested (whether we like it or not) in the form of Facebook. The second layer, the game layer, is very much under construction and will be the the focus of the next decade.
Seth goes on to provide four examples of the game dynamic evident today, namely the Appointment Dynamic, the Influence and Status Dynamic, the Progression Dynamic and Communal Discovery Dynamic. He further illustrates three example of each dynamic; first, an everyday example, second, as a popular game and, third, an example of how this dynamic is or can be used for greater good or benefit.
Examples that stand out are Happy Hour as an appointment dynamic, gold or platinum credit cards as an influence and status dynamic and Linkedin as a progression dynamic.
He concludes his presentation by emphasizing the relevance of gaming dynamics in everyday and modern life and the importance of building the gaming layer correctly.
I watched this presentation several times to best understand the message and must confess that initially, I was quite dismissive of the subject’s relevance. My reaction was based in part on my own experience with video games and perception of contemporary gaming. I wasted a lot of time (and quarters) trying to play at level four on Ms PacMan back in the eighties, never got into video gaming but see a lot of friends and acquaintances playing online poker on laptops, Call of Duty on X Box and Angry Bird on smartphones. Similarly it appears children and young people spend an alarmingly disproportionate amount of time playing video games. After watching Seth’s presentation a few more times I came to appreciate that this wasn’t the sort of gaming or gaming motivation he was referring to. I can see examples of the game dynamics he describes in my own life; accruing points on my Visa Gold and “leveling up” my resume with further training qualifications with courses like the PIDP.
The gaming layers and dynamics Seth describes are evident with the most cursory examination and many of these dynamics and their manifestations are ubiquitous and timeless.
What seems most important is that we understand how our own choices and behavior are influenced or manipulated by gaming dynamics, by whom, for what reason and for who’s benefit? The influence and status dynamic underpins the behavior of a society that measures personal success and achieved standard of living by it’s member’s ability to own or consume name brand goods, often by debt financing. Our choice of automobile, home, apparel, lifestyle and cultural icons come into question. Conversely, a better understanding of how gaming dynamics can drive initiatives for environmental and social justice as well as fiscal responsibility, may be pivotal to social success and perhaps our society’s and species very survival.
I will be mindful of how overt and covert gaming dynamics influence my attitudes, choices and behavior particularly in what I choose to own or consume. I will look for opportunities to use gaming dynamics as an educator, advocate for environmental and social responsibility and independent business person. I will use the Appointment and Leveling Up dynamics to motivate my teammate’s participation in Search and Rescue training and my prospective customers in buying into my industry training courses. Gaming is a timeless motivator and dynamic in human behavior and used responsibly, can be highly effective and fun.
Seth Priebatsch, TED Talk; The Game Layer on Top of the World
PIDP 3240, Journal # 1, Social Media
This journal entry examines the Ted Talk presentation, How Social Media Can Make History by social media theorist Clay Shirky. He discusses the transformed media landscape and cites a number of examples of the use of social media to illustrate it’s impact, relevance, the challenge of it’s best application and how we get our message out.
The first example is the use of social media tools such as video by cell phone in monitoring balloting during an election. In this example he describes how technology can not have social capital or impact until it becomes commonplace and is taken for granted.
He then traces the evolution of modern media and identifies five revolutionary developments:
Moveable type and printed media;
Text and voice conversation by telegraph and telephone;
The development of image, audio and motion picture capture with recorded media; Broadcast media by radio and television and;
Multimedia digital communication via the internet.
He explains how previous media segregated and limited communication between individuals and groups and that with the advent of internet networks, simultaneous, networked multimedia communications between individuals and communities has become a social norm. All forms of media now reside on the internet and the development of individual access (and the capacity to contribute content) to multi media internet is described as the largest increase in expressive capability in human history.
The second example cited is the 2008 earthquake in China, the news of which was instant through social media. Although the immediacy of this coverage is noteworthy in itself, deeper issues are discussed. Initially, social media was viewed as positive in bringing instant global attention to the disaster and motivating charitable support for victims of the seismic event. However, through social media it was revealed that much of the loss of life, particularly children in schools, was the result of endemic corruption contributing to the construction of substandard school buildings which collapsed in the quake. As a result of this unwanted attention, the state moved to limit network discourse. Shirky describes “The Great Firewall of China” which relied on a traditional view of internet information being produced externally by professionals and delivered slowly and in sparse chunks. Shirky points out that much internet content is now produced locally, quickly and in abundance by amateurs and that the only way to limit unwanted discourse was to shut down social media sites such as Twitter as the state did on the twentieth anniversary of the Tianenmen Square protests. He again emphasizes the phenomenon wherein the role of individuals shift from that of consumers of internet media content to producers of such content resulting in internet media becoming global, social, ubiquitous and cheap.
Finally, he offers the example of Obama’s web site being initially a rallying point for support and later being allowed to endure as a repository for obvious discontent. The fact that the site was allowed to remain when it no longer served Obama’s best interest is cited as a positive example of social media’s potential moral integrity and social worth.
Clay concludes that the predominant role of internet media has shifted from being a vehicle for the transmission of single messages to a convening point for social discourse. The overarching questions now becomes how do we best use social media?
My view of social media has been challenged by this presentation. Prior to embarking on the PIDP 3240, I have taken a dim and negative view of social media and this view is a result of how I see social media in action. Social media looks like young people with ear buds in, busily texting and alarmingly disconnected from the world around them. Dominant themes are entertainment personalities, the impact of social media in the Arab Spring, cyber predation and most recently, cyber bullying. The primary beneficiaries of this phenomenon appear to be technology manufacturers, the telecommunications industry, social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter, the advertising industry and last but not least, producers of contemporary products including recorded media and fashion. In light of the global challenges facing the burgeoning human population, the troubling question is whether social media is contributing to solutions to real problems or merely distracting the masses and ultimately exacerbating the larger problems?
With this view, I questioned both the relevance of social media and the value of the PIDP 3240, embarked on it by constraint rather than choice and withdrew from the course on my first try.
In discussing this experience and view with others it’s been pointed out that I use social media in the form of e mails and internet forums which are intended to be subject specific but inevitably drift into social or political commentary. I carry a smartphone and regularly check e mails, surf the web and log into discussion forums. Social media is a personal reality.
I watched the course presentations leading up to this journal assignment in sequence and by the time I arrived at Clay Shirkey’s Ted Talk, was experiencing a paradigm shift. I’ve watched the presentations (including Shirkey’s) several more times and my view continues to change. While the relevance of social media (as described in the presentation) to my role as an educator is yet unclear, it’s undeniable ubiquity, social import and impact are clearly significant to my personal and professional trajectory.
My discomfort is somewhat assuaged by recognizing that I’m already a participant in basic forms of social media such as e mail and internet forums. It would be difficult to engage effectively with others in my personal and professional life without the convenience of my smartphone.
Regardless of my view of the relevance or application of social media through networks such as Twitter and Facebook, social media networks are a predominant means of contemporary discourse and as an aspiring educator and consultant, I’m ill served by maintaining a negative bias and lack of facility with this convention. As a further consequence, the PIDP 3240 has much greater relevance after watching this presentation and the ones that preceded it.
As a result of reflecting on the presentations in week one of the PIDP 3240 Social Media Option and in particular, Clay Shirkey’s presentation, I’ve arrived at some conclusions.
I recognize the degree to which I use social media already, see myself as a participant and will continue to engage with this new perspective. It’s likely that beyond the needs of this course, I’ll carefully try out Twitter and Facebook. I’m motivated to apply myself to this course and take every possible advantage of the learning opportunities it offers. In spite of the lack of recognizable learner support I’m accustomed to, I will persevere through this program, overcome negative perceptions, increase my understanding of and become more facile with the technology, conventions and application of social media.
By course’s end I will be more comfortable with social media conventions, Web 2.0 tools, have developed a blog and participated in the creation of a wiki.
Clay Shirky, TED Talk; How Social Media Can Make History