Liveblogging : Exploiting the Potential of Blogs and Social Networks

— 3 minute read

A day of talks on the use of blogging in education, with live Second Life feed, web-cam and blog chatter... How very trans-literate! What follows is stream of consciousness:

Starting with some nice general overview from Brian Kelly, covering intro and general issues.

Next, Stephen Clarke, University of Birmingham. Managed blogging environments. Looking at risks. IT department risk aversion. Some blog comparisons: a poor institutional blog, erasmus blog and facebook abuse. Conclusions: good blog: safe, secure, reliable, controlled, acceptable use. Claims universities best places to hold these... Not something I'm convinced of, assumed university has technical quality, knowhow to provide quality web facility and that they have a right to control the student's content. Why use a managed blog I cannot control, when I can join wordpress and have control? Plus copyright issues, who owns my content on a university blog? Overall negative view and lack of engagement with community.

Following on, Melissa Highton, University of Leeds. Using Elgg. Leeds University Values and how they marry up with Web 2. Wonderful Facebook community concept of "Lecturers should have their own entrance music". Engagement with user groups. User research on management of information! "I know who knows". Networking is already present, communities of practice, strong feeling of delineated zones, "student's know the difference". Feeling part of something an important aspect of the work. No promotion of the "better" content as promotional tool.

Alison Wildish, Edge Hill University. Aim to establish reputation online and off by word of mouth. No publicity is bad publicity? People will always talk, better you know what they're saying... Blurring boundaries. Making it easy to contribute to social tools. "Use the tools that will compliment your teaching", open approach. Wordpress blogs, support environment, managing expectations, use for publicity, assistance. Use of external blogs, linked in to central site. Facebook integration of VLE and applications. Seen as just another channel. Appropriate use of technology. Not all good. Problems with false allegations made on Facebook. Used reporting tools. Quick response. Educate students! (and staff!) on managing an internet identity. Positive feedback: "bring back maturity ... break down barriers between staff and students" Adopt use of APIs/aggregation, use tools to spread word. Netvibes-like university portal, though they do use lots of AJAX, which obviously will have implications for accessibility. Overall a very positive sounding approach with strong engagement with the real stakeholders.

Tom Milburn, The Student View. Behavior on Facebook is "leaving it on in the background". 1400 freshers of 2000 in a Facebook group before at the University. Peer support, manage worries about appearing stupid to staff. 24hr, direct, informal contact, mentoring schemes. Usage for gaining survey responses for final year research. Problems with closed communication channels "not related to university", difficult to deal with consequences of online actions. Used Facebook flyers to promote advice on security and identity management. 7000 flyers 160 clicks... Blogs less important, harder to find, lack of updates, harder "recruitment".

Unsurprisingly, put in effort, get results. Don't barge into other people's social spaces.