Today I am, once again, at the European Conference on Social Media (#ECSM2014) at the University of Brighton. I will be presenting my paper, “Learning from others mistakes: how social media etiquette distorts informal learning online” this afternoon but until then I will be blogging the talks I attend. As usual this is a live blog so please let me know if you spot any errors or omissions and I’ll be happy to fix them.
Taking Education into Cyberspace – Chaos, Crisis and Community – John Traxler
I think my title here is slightly polluted by my perspective as a lecture in mobile learning, but I was trying to capture two thoughts that were colliding in my head: how increasingly educationally problematic cyberspace actually is; but also the idea of moving away from increasingly pointless short term technology driven projects and working with long term projects with the UN etc. concentrating on the impact of cyberspace in other cultures and languages. And part of that is because technology is culturally specific.
So, to some respect, looking back on my work it has been about the possibilities for the use of mobile technologies and cyberspace in learning. About extending the reach of education, opening up education to those who may otherwise have challenges to access. So that would apply to my work in Kenya, where issues are about infrastructure, but also can be about socio-economic and cultural barriers. But we also see mobile technology enabling more personalised, more location specific, opportunities for education. And mobile technology can change the ways in which education can be understood or theorised. In the UK Diane Laurillard’s conversational model is widely accepted and that tends to be about a simple set of checkboxes in some senses now, so it is important to continue pushing the theory, extending it. And I think that it is important to engage learners, particularly disenfranchised learners. So we want to challenge existing theories and reach out and reconsider education.
But in some ways that can be a backwards looking process, the idea that it is different… an elite technology that should be researchered and then trickled down, the JISC type model of thinking about technology/funding, and that approach can get us into a treadmill of forever trying out “innovation” technologies and miss the bigger picture that these scarce technologies are actually adopted by the wider world as commonplace, familiar. The rest of the world may be using this stuff that may be challenging what we do as educationalists. Even if you regard the world of education as merely servicing the economy – and I’m not saying that I do – then the economy is changing wildly. The economy is driven by digital technologies at a personal model – the tools, technologies, etc. that we use personally – but also in the sense of business models, the way that resources are changing. Bandwidth is like discovering oil – the 4G spectrum sales by government is like North Sea Oil all over again. It is changing the economy, and the things that move around in the economy.
And in terms of what happens at national level, I work with UNRA which works with the Palestinian refugee community and in that context the Israeli state governs mobile infrastructure so the technology there is a political issue.
So, digital changes what we trade, and keep, and value. So an example here, if you take tazers, which you can buy as retail items in the US, now have decorative holsters with MP3 players – the manufacturers say “putting the cute in electrocute”! That’s a whole artefact that never existed before the digital world!
Mobile also changes the nature of work, of supervision. The work that shapes the economy is being shaped by the ubiquitous mobile access to work, the changing patterns of access to information and connectivity. And we are increasingly see the idea of “performative support” – where information, guidance, support comes from within cyberspace. This is a step beyond just-in-time learning. It is like the Hitchikers Guide idea of a Babel Fish and that really challenges the idea of learning, the reasons for learning. That has advantages but it also deskills people, if judgements are made for you, you can lose your autonomy in planning your work routes or priorities for instance. Or your skills may no longer have the same value.
And we see increasing amounts of user generated learning in cyberspace. So, for example, podcasts. You can learn pretty much anything, and from sources outside of academia. I listen to a great deal of late bizantan and medieval history for instance, very little from academia or from the BBC. But those sources may not be accurate or authoritative. And you also see communities – like World of Warcraft – of discussion, production, translation, so many interactions. Although I could argue these people are developing meta cognitive skills, but also we see communities with a shared interest, understanding, corpus, which seems to replicate what we do in Academia but do so wholly separately. Similarly we can think about citizen journalism: the idea that people can capture images, text, audio of an event as it happens. They can share and transmit it without mediation from government or media. People mistakenly talk about it being democratic, I think it’s more demotic. It’s not mediated by traditional institutions BUT it is mediated by Facebook or YouTube or other large and often fairly opaque organisations. But this is a change. The spin of the London bombings citizen journalism was about plucky Londoners, blitz spirit etc. But from another perspective, from the middle east say, you could spin this as brave jihadists spreading chaos. And that points to the importance of criticality. The abundance of materials means that our students really have to be able to sort and sift these types of media. We see increasing transience of information – the cannon is not defined by middle aged European white men but something more democratic but that raises challenges. We see partial, complex, transient viewpoints and information and we have to be able to deal with that.
But that’s a really middle class European view. And I’m interested in other views, and at a number of levels. i think education and cyberspace interact with language, identity, culture. If I look at the way UNESCO or USAID look at education, they see it as delivered by the centre or as delivered by the state. Computers used to industrialise education to some extent. But most of Africa is safe from e-learning. But most of Africa is not safe from mobile and that is problematic. The interface alters the relationship between languages – QWERTY keyboards or alphanumeric keyboards shift the balance from, say, chinese characters, and the english language or transliterated language. It changes the expression of language, and alters the balance. If English is easier to use you may use it in preference to Cyrillic or Arabic etc. I saw this with young kids in Cambodia – and there there was also a cultural cache in using English/American tools and language.
And we see indigenous languages and peoples and technologies connecting with each other. Fragile language communities connected to the global economy can, again, privilege English and threaten those languages. I have worked with communities in Namibia, and their language is about both words and gesture… so for past and future tense they gesture rather than having different words. But mobile interfaces are not designed for their gestures – probably not ours either. We thought, as part of an EU project, that we could customise interfaces to localise them but I am ashamed of the idea that replacing a teacup from a coffee cup is enough, that concept. There does seem to be a real difference between functional or procedural languages versus object orientated languages and how we communicate in cyberspace. Is cyberspace irremediably infected with our values? But then those fragile language communities also appropriate technologies to preserve languages. The Tuva have a dictionary of their language, many of the Native American Nations have dictionaries… but then the issue of ownership for this captured, preserved language information comes up and potentially raises new issues of fragility.
But in terms of communities in Europe, the point that worries me there, is that what is accessed through cyberspace is our vision and not theirs. The state often tries to impose values. We had a project with Roma traveller communities and mobile learning… were we being helpful or were we trying to overwrite their values and communication traditions?
And we also see the idea of Skeumorphism – old fashioned technologies or analogies in interfaces – the floppy disc to save a file – so cyberspace polluted by language but also by the iconography of our past and working history, and not anyone else’s. And cyberspace and the education that opens up is complex. The arab or muslim world is not fragile but there are concerns that our technologies are somehow a trojan horse for western christian cultural values for instance.
But returning to a more conventional thread here… mobile technologies are changing our perceptions of time. You could argue timeliness was invented by John Knox. The literature talks of that paradigm of time being challenged by mobile technologies – we can reschedule our lives, we don’t have to obey Greenwich or Newtonian time. A colleague of mine writes about TV channels in Norway… everyone used to watch the same thing and that gave them a sense of identity… there isn’t that ontological security anymore. And if you look at how connected we are to other parts of the world… I was in Australia, my family were going to bed, in another country my publisher was just getting up… and that’s challenging. We work in fixed institutions in a world that is no longer fixed.
A few years ago I read an article called No Dead Air by Martin Bull? talking about how there is a change with mobile technologies – we carry our own communities, music, and exist in a sort of bubble. The places we inhabit are reconfigured by the opportunities cyberspace give us. That’s a real challenge for education, our institutions are fixed and located. There is also literature of how technology is changing social practices, learning new gestures to live in new spaces. So body languages when we overhear things on the train, enforced eavesdropping. We have a new set of what Goffman calls new “tie signs”, gestures to signify importance or discomfort – around, say, placement of mobiles on tables. And we have this idea of “absent presence” (Guergan) where people are in the room, but also on email, twitter, etc. But an upside to that too – that same concept brings absent others into the room, into the presence.
And we have new ethics, new humour, hierarchies, all different in different communities. I am sure there is humour that doesn’t fly in the World of Warcraft community, say. And we don’t always understand them. And one example we get is the idea of the “missed call”- the call you are not supposed to answer! (e.g. from a taxi driver). We also have the idea of “moral panics” – around literacy, around spelling, about child sex, etc.
So if education is to realise the opportunities of cyberspace we need to think about technology as going into a foreign country. You see JISC Legal developing approaches like this. Facebook, if it were a country, would be third largest in the world, so it really is another country. And we see different attachment to devices – a girl in the Guardian was quoted as saying she’d rather lose a kidney than her mobile – it’s not like the desktop route to cyberspace. And there was a reference to mobiles to being like our privates, in terms of our privacy, protective instinct, etc. You also see naming of children in KwaZulu-Natal like “handsfree”, “simcard” etc. The world we see on mobiles, is not what we are used to…
And another of the downsides… here is a tool designed for guilty New York cat owners tracking their cat. But that also means surveillance of children, by state, you could refer to Leotard, or Foucoult’s Panopticon here. And you can make an argument that cyberspace is a kind of post modernity partial, subjective, Bauman’s liquid modernity… you can be apocalyptic about it. Modernity is founded on language and learning as benign, as good things… and this depiction can undermine that.
Q: You talked about QWERTY keyboards leading to english dominance but have development of other interfaces, haptic interfaces made a difference, or could it?
A: I suspect not as I think the market is against it… not that I’ve heard of…
Q: Even with Japanese and Chinese manufacturers making this
A: Market is not universal though so can happen in one place, but not translating to other native communities, other languages.
Q: Mobiles are about multitasking… but meditation can be another way to become smart… do you see any contradiction between these two ways of becoming smart?
A: Well I have an issue of the idea of mobile learning as a kind of creed, something united there in learning or how we deliver it, I’m more inclined to talk about learning with mobiles. I’m also not sure about multitasking… some researchers would say we are time slicing in ever smaller parts.
Q: In your last part of the talk you talked about mobile as fragmenting experience…are there positive educational aspects there.
A: there is a reformist view of it being the same old stuff, but sexier. Or an apocalyptic view that the institution and education system is bust. There is also a sort of broader view that the world is beset by crisis… debt, deforestation, etc… what is the relationship with technologies… are we complicit.
Q: So I guess I was thinking in terms of actual practice. Many of us are within the academy, teaching… we are in a state of transition… students can pull in Google if we are lucky, Facebook if we are unlucky, during our teaching…
A: that’s the bit I’m not sure about, whether we can co-opt or appropriate what is going on, or whether that is a symptom that the education system is bust!
Q: The thing about saying it’s gone bust… if you see education about transmission of information then of course it is bust. But if it is about inspiring people, understanding the process of certain skills… then it is not bust at all. The technology is only a tool for delivery.
A: That would be a reformist view I think. There is all that information, we can recognise the restrictions, the limitations. We can adapt the metacognitive skills, the inspiration… but do we have a monopoly there versus, say, the World of Warcraft?!
Welcome to Porto – Anabela Mesquita
We are now hearing about the European Conference on Social Media 2015 (scheduled for 9-10th July) location, Porto, from Anabela Mesquita who will be hosting next year’s event in Portugal. I won’t capture that in detail here but having chatted with Anabela over the last few days I am quite sure that it will be a lovely location and that she and her organisation, the Polytechnic Institute of Porto, Portugal, will be wonderful hosts for the second ECSM. Anabela promises sunshine, good food, a beautiful river and the sea.
The event will take place at ISCAP, founded in 1886, one of seven schools in the Polytechnic Institute of Porto. ISCAP is business school there with almost 4000 students across undergraduate, graduate, specialised and post graduate programmes and short courses, crossing areas of business, marketing, commerce, and languages. It includes four research centres: Intercultural Studies; Economic Sciences and Taxation; Communication and Education; Technologies and Information Services. Social media bridges all of those courses and research centres. ISCAP participates in several European projects including a number in lifelong learning areas.
Issues of Using Information Communication Technologies in Higher Education – Paul Oliver and Emma Clayes, University of Highlands and Islands, UK
When we looked into the literature into the use of ICTs in HE we found Reynol (2013) found a complex relationship between Facebook and student engagement and that Facebook use can be negatively related to academic performance and time spent preparing for class. Gikas and Grant (2013) found students concerned about the lack of formal training or support given by their institutions. We took these and other studies into account in our design of this study.
We felt that there were common concerns arising around use of ICTs, especially social media, in education but ethics and views of staff involved were two areas that we felt had been overlooked. So we wanted to focus on practical and ethical issues and focusing on the schools of music and social sciences.
We decided to use surveys to explore student and staff views. We decided to use focus groups as previous studies had used these. And we wanted discussions focused around issues we were interested in, so 6 questions were drafted. We used quota sampling and that was very much about convenience sampling – so no particular social media enthusiasms of those volunteering really. And we conducted two focus groups for each schools, that was to reflect the in-person as well as the online student expereince/course delivery models. The conversations were transcribed and then key themes identified for positive/negative views in particular.
So, what were the findings? Well it seemed only staff were concerned with ethical issues, for instance whether all students would be included in these technologies and the importance of not excluding some students. But there were concerns across both staff and students around ease of access, as many experiences challenges accessing VLEs. And although many were positive about the use of social media, they also reported distractions associated with the use of social media.
So, the social sciences staff were daily positive around the use of ICTs in Higher Education, particularly social media. Some concerns around our VLE and it’s functionality and ease of access. And also concerns about students needing to get used to the VLE. One staff member commented that we are preparing students for the world of work, and that means they do not get to choose what technologies they use, they need to be able to use the chosen tool. Another staff member was concerns about the tone of communication in different spaces, and boundaries there – for instance on Facebook.
Alongside that positivity there were concerns about potential problems of inclusion, legal issues such as those arising from inappropriate posts, and concerns around bullying.
For social sciences students the majority expressed favourable views on ease of access of social media, particularly in comparison to institutional ICTs. They commented, for instance, on the difficulty of commenting and navigating discussions on Blackboard for instance. But they voiced concerns of distractions. They commented that they found it difficult to work from home with the distraction of things like Facebook.
With the staff from music there were really two extremes. One used Facebook with their students because that was the best way to get in touch with them. Considered the space the real world, what others do, and that’s beneficial for students. But another staff member uses Blackboard and was only happy to use Facebook if a specific page for the course. And another spoke about social media being called social media for a reason, it is for social use not for educational use.
For the students there were complaints about accessing webmail and the VLE from home. That was a big issue for students and, being based in the Highlands and Islands they can be very widely distributed geographically so that issue of access was a surprise that way. And there were mixed views around feeling comfortable with using social media for education – not all were equally comfortable with the idea. There were also some interesting ideas – one suggested banning Facebook to eliminate distractions. Another suggested a mobile app that feeds social media through it, or to integrate all ICTs into Facebook. One suggested the great idea of letting social media feed into Blackboard, which seemed like a constructive idea.
So, in conclusion, there was a really mixed set of views here. Students and staff have different but important views with regards to the use of ICTs in education. Access really seems to be critical – blackboard is a good product but having reliable use and access is a really key barrier for staff and students. The study did highlight potential problems that institutions may face with regards to ethical and practical issues. We did have concerns about inclusion voice but very few people voiced these, we were surprised at the lack of concerns. And there was an asymmetry of use – some staff used social media very freely and openly whilst others wanted many more barriers in that use. That variation was an issue, could give a sense of exclusion to some. I think we need to think about guidance. We used to have a blanket ban on social media, now it’s quietly encouraged but I think guidance and training is needed. We need to think about digital inclusion too.
More reflection and metrics on what takes place would be good. However, it may be that social media may always be somewhat informally used in education… as long as alternatives are in place is that a problem? And is it possible to set up features on institutional VLEs to obtain the best of both worlds? To make those key communications elements easier to use, more social media like.
And whilst there are practical issues here we also need to think about what is actually needed or wanted by students. Some really felt social media was a distraction – we can assume all students want social media engagement but that’s not necessarily the case. The most fruitful area moving forward is to think of that bridging the formal and the informal…
Q: When talking about social media were the students thinking about engaging with staff and peers on Facebook, or using pages for courses etc. If mixed use it may explain mixed results?
A: Some of our questions were about thinking about variation of approach, how staff engage with students in different ways in different classes.But we found that Facebook tends to be used by students only, set up by them and with no tutor interaction – and it’s not clear the tutors want that.
Q: some institutions use Facebook pages for particular courses, as a private space, so that conversation is focused in one place.
A: That can work but there are real issues of access and inclusion. But it’s the bridging of informal and formal that we need to look at.
Q: Are blackboard looking at logins via Facebook
A: We’d like to see that. In terms of ethics that’s the difficulty as Blackboard is a safe enclosed space.
Ranking the authenticity of social network members – Dan Ophir, Ariel University, Israel
I am looking for something exceptional – exceptional behaviour – to rank authenticity. I am using some tools here including syntax analysis, quantitative semantics, etc. The aim of this is to find the truth, the authentic internet users. Some parallels here with polygraphs perhaps.
The methodology here is based on a computer assisted cognitive behavioural therapy methodology. CBT was originally developed for psychological treatment and can also be used in measuring the probability of an individuals identity, their conversational or behavioural markers. You can see this in chat examples – where exaggeration might be a marker – or in cross-examination transcripts where certain use of language or emotional responses can, through CBT methodologies, help to identify the individual.
BNF (Bacchus Normal Form) is a computer science concept. In computer science we use programming languages to create a form of truth, very defined concepts. So the Bacchus Normal Form is about simple notation symbols. This is about defining different elements. For instance you define a digit. Then you may define a number as being a digit (having already defined that). This is about declaring terms and doing so in clear and consistent ways using a particular syntax. Thats the principle of this BNF, a metalanguage for other languages. But the challenge is to have a natural language syntax for analysis. So, for instance, we can describe a text with BNF – breaking terms into sentences, noun phrases, verb phrases, auxiliary, adverb, etc. So, from these natural language syntax we can build a derivation/parsing tree to understand the sentence in a way that avoids misunderstanding.
Another concept in our world is quantitative semantics. Ranking the words in the vocabulary according to some measure of significance. So, again, we can use BNF system to understand quantitative semantics such as determining terms, extremal terms, maximal terms, etc. This helps us understand the strength of a term. So we see a gradual escalation of terms. You can understand positive or negative terms, you are ranking the semantics on a spectrum of values. You can also look at connecting terms, auxiliary terms.
Now we move into the psychological model, which is supported by the lexical model, so we can use the 10 Cognitive Distortion Thought Categories that are at the centre of CBT methods. With these tools you can take a sentence and detect the thought categories present. And you can use BNF structures to define those thought categories so that the computer has a precise definition of what I am looking for. I am seeking sentences constructed in a particular way in order to understand the user and to rank that user. Different thought categories will therefore have different structures – again definable for use by the computer in parsing user texts.
So, we have these patterns, and they are tested for validity. We can then use pattern matching, based on these patterns, in order to analyse texts. So from this you can use substitution to recommend correction or more moderate terms; you can evaluate and measure deviation, etc.
From all these models we can build a workflow for processing texts in order to make our rankings, some aspects will be iterative as the computer makes a decision. So, the english version of this work lets you rank intensity of the meaning of the words.
And with that I am off to the next session as it relates to COBWEB. Look out for tweets on the remainder of Dan’s talk from other attendees.
NatureNet – Crowdsourcing design citizen science data using a tabletop in a Nature Preserve – Tom Yeh, University of Colorado, Boulder, USA
I will be talking about a socio technical infrastructure here for nature. So, citizen science is, broadly, about democratising science education and fostering students understanding of how science can be relevant to their lives and communities. And this is a type of crowdsourcing where individuals engage in scientific processes without needing any specific scientific background or training.
So, NatureNet is a citizen science system for studying bio-diversity in nature preserve settings. So, at this conference we have heard lots of presentations on particular platforms. Our project is based around mobile devices, desktop machines and, particularly, table top technologies. Some of these platforms like Twitter and Facebook tend to occur in non Face to Face ways. We wanted to see what fitted those gaps, that opportunity to use table tops and face to face interactions.
So, we were working with the Aspen Nature Park. It is a hugely popular attraction in the summer. So, you can check out a phone at the site, you can take pictures, observations, ask questions – which many do, etc. and collect notes as you walk around. And you can comment and discuss the observation. So, we identified four main motivators to encourage participation in this project:
1. Personal interest
2. Self advocacy
3. Self promotion
So, when the visitor comes back to the visitor centre they can access the table top, they can explore resources, have discussion… they can engage in a face to face way around the table – rather than all having heads down on phones. They can see the pictures they have taken. They can do a kind of face to face social media here, they can engage and share there, they can comment. And answers and discussions can take place, feedback can come back on those questions and comments gathered in the field.
Now, that’s the model the first time they visit, but what happens after that? They have different motivations to take part in the future. If you paid attention in Jennifer Preece’s talk earlier [which I missed] you’ll remember that participation is about membership, feedback, ownership, and acknowledgement. So, for instance after you visit the park, you can look at the website and might reflect back, engage etc.
So, this whole project is about participation in scientific endeavours. And another way to motivating people…
So in terms of crowdsourcing design. These are similar design processes to individual and team design processes but also includes social networking. So we came up with a design model that allows people to add comments and discussion. And we get our users leaving comments and feedback as part of this system, and we use this feedback in our design model.
So, this design model is about collecting ideas, allow commenting on ideas, select ideas, implement ideas – to test effectiveness, integrate ideas, evaluate ideas, modify design. So next time people come back to the park they should see ideas being integrated back into the platform. That will give them some ownership of the platform and some acknowledgement for their participation. One suggestion we have had is for participants to be able to track comments and whether they have or have not been responded to. And we also want some voting on those comments – not just about the science here but crowdsourcing the platform.
This isn’t just a stand alone thing but about the development of scientific dispositions (Clegg and Kolodner 2014, Borda 2007, etc.). In terms of how this can be developed in learners Calabrese-Barton (1998) and Chinn and Malhotra (2001) found that engaging learners in authentic inquiry relevant to their lives enables then to develop scientific dispositions. But Fisher and Giaccardi (2006), Hong and Page (2004), Maher et al (2014 in press), Page (2007), Yip et al (2013) found that engaging learners in the development of tools and activities that support their scientific engagement is also crucial. And that’s why we are doing this, and seeing the tools as continuingly evolving.
Q: Is this specific to the Aspen location?
A: It is now but we also hope to text in two other sites in order to compare how it works there.
Q: We have a project called the Open Science Lab, it came out of a project around personal inquiry with young people. The tool coming out of that is being developed by Mike Sharples and it would be worth you being aware of that if you are not already.
Q: What is the scientific aspects in this project – you are crowdsourcing the interface development but how do comments and questions etc. feed back to scientists/data collection?
A: involved naturalists in the park to crowdsource design of learning activities in the par, but we hope to develop that out towards other citizen science activities. But we want the ideas to help shape relevance of scientific inquiry. People don’t easily identify these sorts of ideas… almost tricking them into giving good ideas.
Combining Social Media and Collaborative E-Learning for Developing Personal Knowledge Management – Tiit Elenurm, Estonian Business School
I started using e-learning tools in the year 2000. At first my focus was on collaborative application of elearning. At that time we used baker(?) but moved over to Moodle and there have been lots of shifts in tools over time, always trying new collaborative aspects, focused on knowledge exchange. So I will look at some of those and how they relate to e-learning.
So this leads to my research question of “What re the experiential learning opportunities and challenges of combining social media and learning applications in the academic context of business studies?” and I’m particularly interested in entrepreneurs. I will talk about 6 applications of social media and learning and their use in developing personal knowledge management skills of entrepreneurs.
So, in 1962 Marshall McLuhan (1962) was the first to popularise the term “global village”. For an entrepreneur the main challenge is about whether we rely only on face to face interactions, when could we use social media for becoming and remaining successful entrepreneurs. We could set up a successful venture in our local area, but if we want to work with someone in Australia than only face to face contact would be expensive, so we need to be able to gain trust using social media. So we really wanted to study this.
And my point of view around these applications is to think about the benefit of entrepreneurs. We have to understand the entrepreneurial orientations, and whilst some literature suggests only one orientation we have a model of three which we think you see:
– Imitative orientation – looking out to what works as their trigger
– Individual innovative origentation – they maybe do not need so much networking
– Co-creative orientation – students and entrepreneurs focused on core creative work – And when we think about limitations and benefits of applications this is probably particularly important as a group.
So we use self-assessment questionnaire for specifying entrepreneurial orientations – a departure point for local and cross-border business opportunity when linking the entrepreneurship education to social media applications. So, when we have run various training courses related to social media, less so with eCommerce or eMarketing as that’s often reflecting positions of established businesses. We really want to reach at the idea of business opportunities of a networker in a broader sense – networking for self-development in order to understand new business trends and opportunities, networking for building personal brands, support for starting businesses, and also how to defend network against colonising marketeers/players.
So, if I place myself in the position of a small start up or entrepreneur I don’t expect to be an expert in every social media site or domain. Choices have to be made, and the same is true for trainers – there needs to be a more limited relevant focus.
So I looked at six learning and social media combination tools, their challenges and opportunities:
1. discussion forums in the noodle learning environment – for knowledge sharing between students studying international business and knowledge management, very much encouraged by tutors and teaching staff. Encouraged to discuss and exchange with other students. There are many good tools but initiallymuch discussion about how much transparency there should be around homework assignments and grades, what can be learned from. These are good tools and don’t require mainstream social media but it doesn’t cover everything.
2. Assignment for finding and reflecting MOOCs – now we are trying to take this next step to open up learning. We have tested as assignments in courses, for students to find MOOCs and take them. So, in further we have a special elective where students study entrepreneurship MBA and to find MOOC course to fill a gap in our curriculum – they have to prove it will do that. They have to study that MOOC. And then we have blended learning sessions where they have to demonstrate lessons learnt from the MOOC. If they prove to us and other students that that has been a valuable contribution, then we give points/credit from us. That I think will open up the learning space much more than this first approach. And it is really opening up the curriculum! Perhaps we will develop the curriculum with these courses if we agree.
3. Sharing user experience about preferred social media sites and new online networking opportunities in the course blog – reflecting changing trends in social media use.
4. Ticider for online brainstorming – I have used the tool for years… but some students really opened up my mind here! They asked fellow students from exchange from Barconi to do it together… so this could be a closed or an open community… perhaps on future more opportunities for open approaches like this.
5. X-Culture online project work – who creates online teams? In the US the lecturer chooses teams, we are trying this out to see what works
6. Cross-border online teams for assisting enterprises in their internationalisation efforts – teams have to work together from Helsinki and Barconi and that is a challenging task to do, finding right skills.
And, in conclusion when creating experiential learning paths of learners by applying social media, useful to take into consideration the readiness of the learners for co-creative entrepeanurship, their online knowledge sharing experience and their disposition to trust co-operation partners in cyberspace. So, in some ways these experiments where students create teams, experiment with them, they are very valuable. x-culture also valuable though as about building trust and teams with people they have never met.
So, the other main important conclusion for me is that minds should be opened up, not just of lecturers but also of students. Many use social media to connect with those who they already know and connect to. Very few proactively use it to find new partners and new contacts. So we have to encourage them to look forwards, not just backwards. To look to their career and knowledge management prospects. And there is the challenge of finding the balance of deliberation and self-regulation in social media and learning. If student judgement high for MOOCs task then why have university. And what is balance of face to face and virtual reality/activity.
Exploring User Behaviour and Needs in Q&A Communities – Smitashree Choudhury, Knowledge Media Institute, Open University
We are mainly a computer science department and we wanted to conduct a small research study on user behaviour needs. We wanted to undersnad user needs in the online communities – why they need contributions, why they contribute. And exploring the relationship between actual behaviour and possible latent needs driving those behaviour. And we wanted to consider if theories of human motivation might explain user needs and behaviour (Maslow).
There have been a number of studies of motivations for using different social media sites. We used Maslow’s theory, a fundamental motivational theory. And that makes use of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and mapping to online needs. From physiological; security needs; needs for belongingness; need for self-esteem; need for self-actualisation. But it needs some translation to the online world. Physiological needs may be about basic needs such as access to the internet. Security may be about security or privacy. And belongingness will be about groups and sense of belonging and participation. And self-esteem connects to reputation, honour, badges in use in these sides. In terms of self actualisation the online communities may fulfil that, but looking at behavioural indicators.
So we started by looking at data from SAP community network. This is a global network where problems are shared. They reward users who contribute significantly, they have a monitoring system for that. There are 32k users. Has run from 2004-2010. There were 427k posts, 34 different forums, 95k threads and many more replies.
So we wanted to seek features that might indicate motivation and behaviour. Factors including community age, how long a user is active in a community; post frequently; initiation; reply; self-reply; number of questions answers; in-degree – how popular are the users and who do they get replies from; tie strength; forum focus – different communities attended by user; topic focus; content quality (reputation points).
So, some statistics of those features… as in many communities a small number of users create a large amount of the content. 10% of users contributed 74% of content. 50% of users were active for less than 10 days of activity. 30% of users never replied to others. 35% of users have never asked a question, maybe they come to contribute and help others. And 70% of users had no reputation points – gives an idea of qualiy distribution.
So we did a simple exploratory analysis of features to factors (EFA) to try to see where correlations might occur. From that we basically found four or five factors that describe all of the behaviours.
1: socially active users/engagers
2. Askers and replies – a measure of community contribution.
3. short-term but active users
4. experienced users
5. Reputation/expert users
So with these factors we found users with these attributes cluster quite differently… we can see that helping behaviours are quite evident in those factors. So, do we see the need hierarchy? In order to investigate we extracted the patterns into time patterns – 16w timeline for each user to see progress for each user… It showed users having multiple behavioural characteristics over time. If we went to user level we saw aggregate community level… the community shows same level of needs in each category.
Then we looked at need evolution. 16% started with basic information needs. 51% start interactively by both initiating and contributing to other users. 12% of users start with high reputation score. 46% of users maintain same order of needs throughout community life. 25% moves from lower to higher oder needs. 28% moves in the reverse direction.
So, this suggests that the users in online communities may not follow a rigid hierarchy… Even Marlow says that it is a combination of needs – you may have more than one at play at the same time. There are also some limitations here, we did not directly involve the community here which may have changed things here. But behavioural analysts does provide insight into users intention of participation at different times.
Summary of issues raised during the conference and presentation of the best PhD Paper and Best Poster Awards – Sue Greener and Asher Rospigliosi
Asher: Sue and I wanted to bring together our thoughts… we noted a lot of stuff up on a wall, which you can see in this image, and we really want to focus on a few key things: do not make assumptions being a big part of this…
Sue: We have a few challenges here… So, firstly… the issue of ubiquity is known, is part of our world but it does really raise challenges…we came across several people at this conference who have twitter accounts but have never used them! Is that normal for academics to research something we haven’t tried ourselves? If we are seriously researching social media, as Farida said, you need to do this stuff first. We’ve said this about elearning for years, but how do we make meaning in our research without trying stuff out.
ASher: we also wanted to talk about ease and access… and issues around Twitter. So many of us use Twitter as a source of data – it’s easy to access, open. accessible. We can’t reach that closed data from other platforms… we can get Twitter data without complexity… maybe… but actually we need computer science to manage that and that changes what kind of projects we do, what skills we need. And again these are issues raised by Farida, as were issues of who we hear about in this space, how reliable data is…. and there can be huge differentiation between what dat you get depending on your source, your API, whether you have firehose access.
Sue: thirdly the issue of clash of worlds, clash of dimensions! I’ve had lots of comments about a mix of elements, not so much a blend. We saw that social media links across disciplines… I think that can be good, to bring people together. But we can find clashes there… in the education world Facebook might be great but it’s not owned by the sector, we have to think about the commercial world… risk management… we need to consider commerce, learning world of academics, and learning world of students. And student experiences can be quite different. And you have the institutional perspective… and the analytical perspective. You have governments watching, tracking, potentially shaping our destiny without us even knowing. So we have to critically examine that before we can say “I know that”.
Asher: fourthly the pace of change of the technology world, of social media is breathtaking. Several times I thought about the route to get a PhD… how long that takes to establish methodological approach, collect data, reflect on that data… if that had been on MySpace and you came out with a PhD around that it might be a bit disconcerting… stuff like SnapChat, Instagram, WeChat… We started by talking about Twitter and being involved… increasingly the new technologies and interfaces will change rapidly. I don’t know anyone using Google Glass yet but I’m sure it won’t be long before whole conferences may be full of people here… and so there is the issue of relevance and currency. I would say that you should be open, recording what you think at the moment or shortly afterwards – like Nicola has done in her liveblog – because you have established and shared what you are doing, particularly important if you are doing a PhD in this area.
Sue: Fifthly there is the issue of language, terminology and definitions too. This is a really shifting time… we don’t have the definitions… we find it hard as academics to talk about what we write.
Asher: this morning we had this idea of, Sue calls it, “QWERTY Lock” and how that may influence our behaviour.
Sue: And David Gurteen asked us to think about better smarter conversations online… we need a shared language to talk about social media and what’s going on, and we need to establish that…
Asher: Farida talked about images, how under represented they are in the literature. Ben Schneiderman also raised the issue of visual literacy when talking about visualisation and big data. And this week, along with twitter, we have also seen a number of images being shared, a lot of information there.
Sue: So there are five challenges to take away… but the main thing here is that, isn’t this an exciting time to be exploring and researching social media! And, as you may imagine we have been collecting everything as we go – tweets, images, storify etc. So go to http://blogs.brighton.ac.uk/brightsoc/ for all of those.
Asher: So, stay in touch with us and each other and we welcome any feedback you may have…
Comment from audience: I’ve really enjoyed this. When we first talked about this year at ALT-C, an e-learning conference with many of the same faces again… and it was so fun to be at an event with such a mix of areas and with topics outside of my normal work area!
Sue Nugus: we are going to give the prizes for the best PhD Paper and the best Poster. We had some great posters today. At some conferences people can feel that posters don’t count in some sort of way, but thats not true – you can learn so much from the posters and speaking with the poster authors. And I am so pleased that we had such excellent posters that really reinforced that! And the best poster goes to Sue Beckingham and the team from Sheffield Hallam University for their poster The SHU Social Media CoLab.
We also wanted to thank Avril Loveless for chairing and organising the PhD Colloquium. There were some fantastic presentations which gave the judges a very hard time. But the unanimous winner was Jennifer Forestal from Northwestern University, and her paper was from “Demos to Data: Social Media, Software Architecture and Public Space”.
Finally I would like to thank Asher and Sue for being so up for organising this first ECSM conference, they have been wonderful.
Asher: And huge thanks both to Sue Nugus, to Sue Gardner and to all of the academic and technical support teams here who have helped make the event possible!
And with that we are all done! It was a really stimulating and useful conference for me and I look forward, hopefully, to going along to ECSM 2015 and meeting with this lovely community again soon!