Posts Tagged ‘social networking’

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Balancing Mythologies

posted: 2.27.14 by Jack Solomon

In a recent classroom discussion concerning the extraordinary attraction of digital social networking, and the possible significance of that attraction, one of my students (among many astute observations made throughout the class) noted that there was something about social networking that suggested that people felt that their personal experience wasn’t valid somehow unless it could be shared on Instagram, Snapchat, Pinstagram, etc.  [read more]

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Comparing MOOCs: #WEXMOOC vs. #clmooc

posted: 6.25.13 by Traci Gardner

A student trying to decide whether a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) fits her needs will probably turn first to the course site, which, at a minimum, has as a webpage overview and a video introduction to the course. Today, I want to consider what introductory videos for two different courses I’ve enrolled in tell me about the courses themselves. [read more]

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cMOOCs and xMOOCs

posted: 6.18.13 by Traci Gardner

Two weeks ago, I talked about The Misunderstood MOOC, the differences between the first MOOCs and the MOOCs now being developed by companies like Coursera and EDx. As I was preparing to write this week’s post, I came upon an extended conversation of these two kinds of MOOCs between social community builder and teacher Howard Rheingold and senior fellow at the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education, Bryan Alexander. [read more]

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Findings? Probably Not for the Classroom

posted: 12.6.11 by Traci Gardner

[Commonplace book], [mid. 17th c.]I really like the idea of the Findings site. Users post quotations from what they are reading (with personal notes, if desired) and collectively build a giant collection of clippings and annotations.

The site immediately felt readerly and familiar to me. It reminded me of my own handwritten journals, filled with quotations and related comments from my readings. These days, those journals are all in a box and I never add to them.

Between carpal tunnel and my digital habits, I never get around to hand-writing quotations in a journal anymore. When I do happen upon a quotation that strikes a chord with me, I just save it to Evernote. If it’s a short enough quotation, I send it out on my Twitter accounts. Very occasionally, I write a short post about it on my blog.

Findings seems like an online alternative where I can gather quotations, add my response, and save them to review later. That the Findings site stirred these feelings in me isn’t surprising. When I looked for more information, I found that the designer, Steven Berlin Johnson, did extensive research on commonplace books for his book Where Good Ideas Come From, which I wrote about last year.

In his post Introducing Findings, Johnson explains how commonplace books inspired his Findings project:

The other thing that would be fascinating would be to open up these personal libraries to the external world. That would be a lovely combination of old-fashioned book-based wisdom, advanced semantic search technology, and the personality-driven filters that we’ve come to enjoy in the blogosphere.

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Categories: Teaching with Technology
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Why Writing Teachers Should Pay Attention to Google+

posted: 7.12.11 by Traci Gardner

G+I am one of the lucky people who received an invitation to Google+ within twenty-four hours of its launch (thanks @z_williamson). Considered by many as Google’s answer to Facebook, Google+ is a social networking site that foregrounds the ability to connect and share content with very specific groups of people, or “Circles” as they’re called on the Google+ site and in the Android app (shown right).

Combine the fine-grained control that Google+ Circles give users with the capability to work with existing Google products (like Google Docs), and you have a tool that is perfect for the writing classroom. Google+ has the potential to simplify blogging, collaborative writing, peer review, and group work—all while reducing the creepy treehouse effect that students often encounter on Facebook.

Before I talk about Google+ in the classroom, I need to share more information on Google+ Circles and the other features in Google+. Google has published a series of YouTube videos and a demo that explain the different aspects of the Google+, but they are (as you’d expect) a bit commercialized and idealistic. For an even-handed explanation and review of Google+, watch this CNET video, “First Look at Google’s Facebook killer, Google+”:

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Categories: Teaching with Technology
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Supporting Scholarly Research with Free Sources

posted: 9.17.09 by archived

As an adjunct with no R1 institutional affiliation, I have found it hard to research the past couple of years. When I was only teaching at a community college, this research was even more difficult because I did not have access to the majority of scholarly journals in my field. At first, I focused on teaching and did not notice this deficiency; however, as I sought to return to the world of research, this gap became obvious. Fortunately, social networking, peer exchange, and the Web provide some viable work-arounds for adjuncts in similar situations: those who cannot afford individual subscriptions to academic journals or services, who teach for institutions with minimal academic resources online, or who are between jobs.

Rather than attempt a comprehensive list, what follows is one of my research processes — and it is a process that has served and continues to serve me well. I have used it when I had access to a good research library and when I was without one. I would rather develop research skills and resources that work in times thick as well as times thin. If you have developed other work-arounds that are effective, please share them in the comments.

The first obvious source is Google Scholar. It ranks the relative scholarly importance of articles by showing how often they are cited. Additionally, Google Scholar provides a list of related articles; this can be almost as good as an annotated bibliography. It is also useful for identifying patterns. Sometimes this has led me to discover related articles in free, online, and open access scholarly journals.

Once potential sources and leads are identified, I move to Google Books. I follow the leads there, locate the books, and find out just how much of the materials I can read online. Unfortunately, it is not possible to copy and paste from Google Books; however, viewing is better than having to buy pricey texts, and it offers you a chance to at least look at them. On top of that, it provides an opportunity to review the working scholarly bibliographies and lists of works cited so that if and when you do hit an open window for materials, you are prepared with a list of goodies to go find. Be sure that you save these books to your GBooks library so that it is easy to relocate the texts.

Finally, I go to ScribD. The site hosts a number of scholarly books and articles, and I download them without hesitation. When I have a book-buying budget, then I will purchase the books. At this point, my budget is limited, so I do what I need to do in order to further my scholarship. Additionally, by downloading a PDF, I can use Adobe Acrobat, mark up my own PDF, and keep my notes stored — all without killing trees or paying $230 for a single book. If texts from academic presses are more reasonably priced, like some of University of Chicago’s books or MIT’s books, then I am certainly happy to buy them or pay for a digital download. Ditto on the academic articles.

While ScribD certainly does not have all the materials that scholars need, you can get a lot of material. I also find a lot of interesting and semi-related material in the sidebars which, like YouTube, show related or potential articles of interests. This sort of incidental or coincidental discovery has led me towards a number of useful sources. For example, when I was researching “Biopower” and “Foucault,” Eugene Thacker’s work was listed in a sidebar. I followed that link and discovered his text The Global Genome. From that developed a new area of interest for me: the rhetoric surrounding genetic capitalism and development. I have spent hours and hours researching a topic that I happened to bump into in a sidebar.  Thus, the peer-exchange nature of sites like ScribD offer the additional benefit of numerous potential paths/distractions/leads to follow — something that can be more intense than straight research in a library’s online or physical resources. Unlike looking at books in similar locations, sites like ScribD enable intersections with ideas based on the user who posts the content as well as the content’s key words.

Finally, be sure to network with people in person and online. Perhaps one or several of them will share their PDF library or access with you. It may be a long shot, but you never know until you check. Fortunately at key points in my intellectual development, people have passed along vital PDFs which reshaped my thinking and theorizing.

As an adjunct, we have far fewer resources than many graduate students and most full-time faculty. This means we must adapt, adopt, and innovate to continue our research. The Web can facilitate this.  Hopefully the peer-exchange and social nature of the Web will also cultivate the development of research work-around strategies that bolster our academic work while avoiding the costs of information access.

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Categories: Adjunct Advice, Finding Sources, Gregory Zobel, Professional Development & Service, Research, Working with Sources
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Blogs vs. Social Networks: How Identity is Shaped

posted: 8.7.09 by Nick Carbone

So much of writing is about the author shaping how he or she is to be perceived; it’s about ethos, persona, and voice.

What’s fascinating in this early Internet age are the increasing number of places and ways writers can write. All the print forms persist — articles, papers, books, profiles, newsletters, and more. And added to these are new ways of being via writing: blogs, social networks, Twitter, wikis, discussion boards, and e-mail. All these forms require words to be written, but where and how those words are read change how writers create a person and how readers perceive the ethos of the writer.

In a Gawker post called “Was Blogging Just a Fad?,” Scott Rosenberg describes a key distinction between blogs and social networks:

A blog lets you define yourself, whereas on a social network you are more likely to be defined by others. Sure, blog readers can write comments — but the blogger can delete the comments, or disemvowel them, or turn them off entirely. Sure, a blog is dependent on the links you point outward and those that others point in; but it has its own independent existence in a way that no amount of messaging and chat and interaction on a social networking site can match. A blog is not necessarily better than a Facebook profile, nor is it worse; it is, simply, different.

All writing is part of a social network, of course. But Facebook and other online social networks accelerate the social. Researchers have found, for example, that what you say in your profile is not taken at face value by members of the network; how you are viewed is determined by the accumulation of your activities in the network. The wall posts you make, the status updates you write, the comments you make on the walls/updates of others; the images you share, and so on. Hundreds of discrete, relatively micro writing acts accumulate to create a pointillistic composition of your identity.

Whereas a blog, as relatively longer form done in a technological environment that the blogger can control more fully, is more about the writer as he or she attempts to define themselves in broader, often richer, strokes.

What’s really interesting to see are writers who work across several e- and print media delivery methods. Do you know them more or less depending upon which technology you read them in?

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Categories: Teaching with Technology
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Twitter Resources for the Classroom

posted: 5.18.09 by Traci Gardner

Now that you’ve learned to use Twitter to communicate with friends and colleagues, it’s time to think about how to use it in the classroom. Lots of people are already using social networking for educational purposes, but you may still be asking why Twitter is a good tool for the writing classroom.

Fortunately, lots of folks are answering that question. The Tech & Learning article “Nine Reasons to Twitter in Schools” explains that the tool can help with everything from teaching communication to encouraging self-reflection. Point students (and colleagues) to “How Twitter Makes You A Better Writer,” which outlines the benefits in a quick and clear way.

Once you’re sure why you should use Twitter, you need to figure out how to use it to meet your pedagogical goals. To help you get started, I’ve gathered a bunch of great resources below. Some are general tips, and others are very specific activities that you can try. So go. Read. Get inspired.

  1. Tap the strategy in the Chronicle article “Professor Encourages Students to Pass Notes During Class — via Twitter” to invite students to tweet during class presentations, creating their own class archive and extending the discussion with back-channel conversation.
  2. Where for art thou Twitter?” asks students to take on the persona of a character from a work of literature and exchange tweets based on what they’ve read so far. Add requirements such as including details about the setting or key imagery as appropriate.
  3. Try the idea in “Twitter Book Reports?” for fun, quick reviews of books, but don’t stop there. Extend the technique to reviews of films, music, events, and more.
  4. Famous Last Tweets” includes some material that I wouldn’t use in the classroom, but the idea can still be a winner. Visit the site and read the first few fictional epitaphs. Students can write similar “famous last tweets” for authors whose works they are reading, for fictional characters, and for historical figures.
  5. Watch the Current video The Twitter Experiment—”Twistory” in the Classroom to see how a history professor used Twitter to engage more students in class discussion.
  6. If you still haven’t found the right activity for your class, check out “Twenty-Three Interesting Ways to use Twitter in the Classroom,” “Twitter for Academia,” and “Top 100 Tools for the Twittering Teacher” for even more tips and ideas.

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Categories: Assignment Idea, Teaching with Technology
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What Everyone Assumes You Know about Social Networking

posted: 5.15.09 by Traci Gardner

No matter how you’re using tools like Twitter and Facebook, there are a few things that every teacher should know. In fact, because you’re a writing teacher, everyone assumes that you know all about composing, regardless of the genre or how it’s published.

  • Go beyond the generic and everyday details. Remember how you tell students to be specific when they write? Follow that advice! Say something beyond the ordinary. Even if you’re only telling readers that you’ve checked out a new book from the library, you can add advice, a critique, or some suggestions. Post something special that makes your update worth reading. If you’re having trouble packing all that info into a single tweet, there are some simple ways to “Maximize the Use of Your 140 Characters.”
  • Be helpful to your readers. Audience is as important in social networking as it is in a persuasive essay. The more your entries and updates connect to your readers, the more likely those readers will be to follow your posts. The secret is simply to be useful to your readers. Share tips, point them to free classroom resources, and suggest new tools and sites that they can use. Give people a reason to come read the latest thing you’ve posted.
  • Link, but also comment. Include links to people, books, software, other web sites, and newspaper or journal articles. In Twitter, you can retweet what someone else says word-for-word, or rephrase the idea and use the via format. Also, add a word or two that explains why you’re passing it along. It’s just like introducing and explaining quotations in a research paper.
  • Be ready to explain and support your posts—online and in person. If you post your entries and updates publicly, anyone might ask you questions. Someone in your department might want to hear more or challenge your opinion. Be ready to reply online and in person.
  • Use tools and tricks that simplify the process. Posting your updates and entries could take up every moment you have. Fortunately there are ways to streamline the process. FriendFeed and Bebo are social networking aggregators that let you post your comments to multiple sites simply. The New York Times article “All You Need to Know to Twitter” and the ReadWriteWeb entry “Two New Ways to Update Facebook Pages without Using Facebook” suggest some other great tools.

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5 ways I approach visual argument in the classroom

posted: 4.17.08 by Barclay Barrios

Visual argument (or, more generally, visual rhetoric) seems to be an increasingly important part of the composition classroom. I’ve never taught a class devoted to visual argument, but I have given visual argument assignments and I often ask students to consider the role that the visual plays in culture. There are of course whole textbooks on visual argument, but since the visual plays only a supporting role in my course, I tend to use a variety of websites instead. For example:

1. PostSecret
PostSecret is my favorite way to have students think about visual argument. This public art project started when its founder, Frank Warren, invited people to design and submit postcards that revealed secrets their authors had never shared before. Each Sunday, Warren posts a new set of secret-revealing postcards; in the process, he offers a wide-ranging display of visual argument, as each postcard design reflects the secret it contains. I’ve found that students can analyze these visual texts readily, providing them good practice at reading, decoding, and then designing their own visual arguments.

2. Ikea
You may be familiar with this home furnishings company from Sweden if you’re lucky enough to have an Ikea store near you (we’re getting ours here in South Florida this summer—yay!). But even if you’re never heard of Ikea, the company’s website offers a great way to explore cultural assumptions about design. That’s because it has separate sites for countries around the world. Ask students to explore some of these different sites (such as Saudi Arabia and Malaysia), taking note of how language and culture influence visual argument and design. Ask them then to view the site for the United States and look for the same sorts of cultural assumptions. This assignment, of course, could be done with the main site of many global corporations. I choose Ikea to help students see that globalization is not purely an American phenomenon.

3. The Ebay Conceptual Art Gallery
Justin Jorgensen turns photographs of items auctioned on Ebay into a kind of found art. Have students explore the site and consider questions of both visual design/arrangement and art. Then have them explore Ebay itself. What’s the relationship between design and sales? What’s the economic impact of a good visual argument?

4. MySpace
Chances are your students are already familiar with MySpace. Many students have pages on this popular social networking site, using it to keep in touch with friends old and new. Yet most the pages on MySpace are designed extremely poorly. But in doing so, they also make important visual arguments about the person making the page. Ask students to locate or bring in examples of overly designed or badly designed pages. How does the design reflect and represent the author of the page? How does effective visual argument diverge from effective visual design?

5. Comeeko
Comeeko allows you to upload photos and add captions to create a web-based comic strip. Students can use this tool to create compositions in the style of graphic novels.

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Categories: Argument, Document Design, Learning Styles, Popular Culture, Teaching with Technology, Visual Argument, Visual Rhetoric
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