Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Article about Social Objects

The link for this article is:

This article adds a bit more to the criteria list for Social Objects: Social Objects are natural, not artificial, they're 'live', they're about renaissance, about rediscovering something we used to have before, they're open, and good social objects are rare. It's worth a read!

Social Objects and Education

This week's readings focus on 'Social Objects'. According to Hugh Mcleod, a 'social object' can be abstract, digital, molecular, but must be something which draws people together around it. Whether it is the Boston Red Sox or an iphone, if it encourages people who care passionately about it to gather around it and create social interaction and conversation, it is a social object.

The Ed Techie article asks, "What would a social object be in education?" and then answers, "On campus that's pretty obvious-it can be the lecture or workshop, a book or an article. Online, I guess the answer is 'content'." Educational content can be a social object, but some criteria must be met: (1)It is a starting point for a social network, (not the other way around), (2)It encourages individuals to participate, whether through controversial ideas or informational imperfections, (3)It appeals to a community of learners who find it engaging, (4)It is perpetuated by continuing to be successful at creating social interaction. (This last criterion is my own addition).

To the extent to which assignments or assessments draw people around them and create social interaction and conversation, they would be considered 'social objects'. It is conceivable that an assignment to create a virtual art gallery could be considered a social object, that would provide a starting point of conversation, and would provide something about which the participants would care passionately. It would, however, most likely, cease to continue to be a social object after the assignment was completed. Since the 'perpetuation' criterion would not be met, these
items might better be termed, 'transitory social objects'.

How compatible does the notion of social objects appear to be with the idea of learning management systems? Since the venue of a learning management system is basically an extension of the classroom, (and a rather mandatory aspect of it), the idea of people volitionally, spontaneously and enthusiastically gathering to it and caring passionately about it seems to be at odds with the definition of a social object.

A metaphor for a social object in education? Maybe a band would provide a good metaphor. It is something around which people enthusiastically gather, a starting point, are passionate about, engage in social interaction about, and find interesting for long periods of time. How can this metaphor be ported over into the field of education? If education were a musical group, the individuals in the audience (students) would find points of intersection in their interests in particular songs or performers, but also might find that they resonate with a particular instrument or singer or song more enthusiastically than others. All fields of knowledge are interrelated and offer truth (music) to students, but some students experience 'sympathetic vibrations' with a particular subject(song)that they would explore further. They might also feel a closer bond with one professor than another,(singer or musician). As far as educators (the band)are concerned, they might orchestrate and arrange music a little differently for different groups, (design curriculum to reflect differences in students), they might use different techniques on instruments to elicit a chosen response, (choose specific learning strategies to enhance the students' experience), they might use 'playing by ear' and listening to keep on pitch (tuning their ears and hearts to their students' needs) and they might learn to improve in playing 'in concert' with their fellow musicians (working with fellow instructors to collaborate and share ideas).

All in all, I quite enjoyed all of the readings this week and appreciate learning more about social objects! (Even the debate was interesting!)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

More on Wikis-Educational Uses

As there are so many ways to use Wikis for educational purposes, I found it helpful to peruse a site that is a composite of several educational wiki sites with their links. It is: +wikis. One of the best example sites is:
Asalaamualaikum-a wiki that focuses on Pakistan for ages 10 & 11. It is a great example of student involvement. One of the pages advertised obtaining a 'voki'-a customized voice and a character-avatar, to participate! ( if you are interested!)

The self-correcting mechanism of wikis lends itself to a bit of intellectual competition or at least, the production of a worthy product to avoid correction. It keeps participants on their toes to always be in a state of a peer reviewer or reviewee. (not a real word!) Adding to or correcting someone's story, is done in many areas in education. This medium simply extends this practice to a broader audience and is not limited to only the classroom setting.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

From a perusal of the extensive Wiki sites, and after reading the five pillars and also what Wikipedia is not, it seems very clear that sufficient encouragements toward scholarship and intellectual honesty are in place to channel contributors' excitement and energy correctly! It is also clear that the founders of Wikipedia have created a multitude of outlets for projects that fall outside of the scope of the main Wikipedia concept. For example, a sister project encompasses
media, news, a dictionary, quotes, text books, novels, a repository for full sources, a site (Wikieducator) devoted to producing open content, and, of all things, Wiki Travel! Creating alternate channels for ideas not strictly aligning with encyclopedic form is a critical piece of the puzzle for keeping entries and corrections on task!

I created an account, then corrected one word in the Church Wikipedia link...I felt very timid and was conscious of the potential backlash of correction or deletion that could occur...but since it was only one word, I thought that it might not be so harshly censored! I changed the word, 'teachings' to 'doctrines' that Christ taught. (teachings that He taught sounded repetitive!)

I think Wikipedia is a great forum for the beginnings of creating AGI-Artificial General Intelligence! ( A massively intelligent computer which has harnessed the 'wisdom of crowds'. )

Monday, September 15, 2008

In reviewing the uses of blogs in education, my article identified five main categories of use:
(1)Teachers use blogs to post class times, assignment notifications, suggested readings, excercises. (2)Instructors link to the Internet through blogs to post online resources that relate to their course ie. Rich Effland, from Mesa Community College, maintains a blog to pass along links and comments about topics in archaeology. Effland writes, what are in essence, short essays specifically directed toward his students. (3)Blogs are often used to organize in-class discussions. Students are also encouraged to visit and blog on other students' blogs to create a community of learners. This allows students who may not be as vocal in a classroom setting to voice his or her opinion with more ease in a cyber setting. (4)Instructors use blogs to organize class seminars and provide summaries of readings. These blogs can become group blogs---that is, an individual blog authored by a group of students. (5)Students can be asked to create and blog as a component of their class grade. Technologist Lane Dunlop wrote about one class at Cornell: "Each day, the students read a chunk of a book and post two parragraphs on their thoughts on the reading." This is a journal-type application of a blog.

Other educational uses of blogs might include: reflections on your teaching experience; log of teaching-training experiences; descriptions of what worked in the classroom and what didn't;
explanation of teaching insights- what you learned from another teacher; the sharing of ideas for teaching tasks or games for classroom use; commenting on important teaching and learning issues; student-created 'portfolio' blogs of their work; communication with parents of students;
a forum for providing samples of exemplary student work; the display of internet resources for a specific course; providing links to pertinent sites and annotating what is relevant about those sites; publishing examples of good student writing; showcasing student art, poetry, creative stories; organizing a literature group/online book club; building a class newsletter; linking your class with another class somewhere else in the world; completing a webquest.

Although this is not an exhaustive list, it is lengthy! Something that I can add? Maybe enlarge on the idea of posting student artwork by actually having the student create an art gallery blog of his or her body of work for the semester; create your own 'listening gallery' that could include music that the student has composed or performed; use a blog to maintain an ongoing evaluation conversation between the student and instructor, detailing progress on a particular project; using a blog to post class news updates/photos; posting creative insights or inventions...etc.,etc., etc.! Of course, the educational usese of blogs can also include religious education and thoughts!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Posting for David Wiley

I'm so excited to be in this tools class! The possibilities are intriguing and I anticipate this course as being a great stepping stone to my dissertation work! Thank you, Dr. Wiley, for your enthusiasm and vision!