Tag Archive for socialmedia

You need a really large network

The charities that raise a lot from social media vary widely in size and budgets. But each has an average Facebook following of nearly 100,000, more than 15 times the norm, according to the NSNB report. They also now dedicate lots of staff time to social media and have carefully followed the success of their fund-raising.

Source: The Economist

Is this simply due to the low rate of return on social media fundraising appeals, or does a crowd effect exist, so that individuals are more likely to give because they see their friends give?

Underage Students on Google and Facebook

Google is cracking down on underage accounts. Young students who accurately reported their age when creating a GMail account are finding themselves¬†shut out without warning. The account closure is swift and complete. With a parent’s help, a child can reactivate an account. At this point, child and parent face a choice: comply with Google’s action to shut down the account or falsify the child’s age in the account and keep it open. I suspect that many will choose the latter.

Students who have their account within a Google Apps domain are better off. The Apps domain administrator creates accounts, does not report user age, and bears responsibility to ensure the privacy of student information. Google expects schools to secure parent consent for under-13 use of Google Apps. At a minimum, Google stores each student’s name and email address, but of course the account will also include content that the student has uploaded in the course of their work.

Google Apps domains are not just limited to schools. Any domain owner can set up a free Google Apps domain, though these are limited to 10 user accounts, and advertisements are displayed. Buying a domain and setting up free Google Apps allows a family to take greater control of the services and comply with parent consent requirements. Low-cost web hosts make it easy to buy a domain name for the family and use GMail.

What about Google+? Google has just added Plus to Apps, but only for higher-education institutions.

Google provides a form to request access but state that this is not for elementary and secondary schools.

Facebook requires users to report their age when setting up a new account.

Many students falsify their age, often with the support of their parents. Both children and parents want to gain access to the social networking platform in order to keep in touch with each other, relatives, and friends. Companies routinely do not create a way for parents to provide consent for a child to create an account, and in turn for the company to collect information about the child. Facebook also does not provide the option for a school to to administer student accounts with parent consent. I also wonder what lesson students are learning from their parents’ encouragement to falsify their age.

 

The Best Social Media Tool for the Classroom

What is the best social media tool for the classroom? Blog? Facebook? Wiki? Twitter? Chat? Surprise! It’s the discussion forum. Really? How can a discussion forum be best suited to the classroom, when newer social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter receive all of the hype? Let us look at the desirable features of a classroom setting and how they match up to social media tools.

Classrooms are democratic.

Students continue conversations started during class. They have an equal opportunity to raise their voice — one can speak without interruption in a discussion forum. Students who require more time to process ideas or formulate thoughtful responses have equal access to forum discussions, whereas face-to-face discussions reward quick thinkers and strong verbal processors.

Classrooms are collaborative.

A discussion thread is the combined product of everyone’s contributions. It is not “owned” by any one user. A community of learners work together to make decisions and achieve common goals. In a project-based class, a forum provides equal input to the decision-making process.

Classrooms are private.

Students deserve to take risks and express themselves within a small, trusted group of teachers and peers. While publishing to the world serves a specific pedagogical purpose, it is typically not the standard for all classroom activity. One can make any social media content private, but forums are often private by default.

Classroom work is topical.

In most classes, students engage with a series of topics or projects toward broader learning goals. Discussion forums are by default organized by topic. Any student may create a new topic, which becomes a discussion thread separate from the others. When students reply to each other, the discussions retains its topical organization. Forum tools allow for the creation of categories or multiple forums, allowing the teacher to further organize discussions by topic.

Classrooms are multi-modal.

Like other social media technologies, forums support multiple media: text, links, images, movies, documents, publications, and more.

Classroom activities are diverse.

The forum is an extremely versatile tool. I have seen it used as a news feed, peer review system, debate center, homework club, writing tool, and more.

Is something wrong with other social media tools?

Not at all! Each tool organizes group communication differently and has its place in the educational process. One may argue that new social media tools are better matched to new forms of learning, especially independent study. However, the communication environment of a forum most closely matches a typical classroom learning environment. Let us take a look at the qualities of other social media tools.

Blog

In a blog, author(s) write, and then individuals respond. Authors have greater implicit authority than commenters. A comment thread has the potential to become a discussion, but comments are often hidden behind a link, and page views typically far outnumber comments. Most readers just read and do not comment. Blogs are well-suited for the public or community presentation of well-developed work.

Wiki

In a wiki, participants have equal opportunity to contribute content and organize a shared information resource. A wiki is great for the co-construction of shared knowledge, such as a class review sheet or topical information resource. However, the process of negotiating ideas is hidden behind the “history” and “discussion” links. A wiki emphasizes the final product more than the discussion process.

Photo and Video Sites

Students may publish photos and videos for community feedback. Social media sites also serve as another information resource for research or project work.

Microblogging

I am not aware of strong student learning communities based in Twitter. Teachers have had some success using Twitter as an information source and learning collective.

Online Word Processors

Google Docs is terrific for small group collaborative work, such as when two students develop a paper or presentation together, or as a class document repository. Live, simultaneous editing of a single document does not scale well to a full class of students.

Social Networks

Students are on Facebook, but classrooms should not necessarily go there! The primary distinguishing feature of a social network — curating friend lists — has no place in a classroom.In a school, the learning groups are already defined. Facebook’s photo and video tools are very easy to use, and learning management systems would do well to improve theirs. While popular press about Facebook would have you believe that 100% of students have a Facebook account, in practice one finds that some students have opted out to avoid the distraction or the social scene. Finally, students deserve to have a private, social space separate from adults and classes.

Where can I get a forum for my classroom?

Most course website systems have a forum tool (e.g., Moodle, Blackboard, Haiku). Many social media tools have it, too (e.g., Ning). Standalone forum software also exists, both self-installed and hosted (phpBB).

Versatility: Some Examples

Forum as class discussion

The teacher posts a prompt, and students posts replies, responding both to the original post and building on the comments of classmates.

Class Blog

In Moodle’s “social” site format, one forum is featured on the course site front page. This teacher has added news feeds to the left and right columns for information and inspiration.

Peer Review

Peer review is a key part of the writing process. The author posts her paper, and two peer reviewers write response papers. The original author posts a revision, and the process repeats again.


Single, Public Response

The teacher posts a prompt, but unlike the class discussion, students submit a single response on their own. This is like collecting an assignment but in a public space, so that students may see each others’ responses.

Class Warmup Activity

When students arrive to class, they log into the class site and independently complete the first activity of the day.

Professional Learning Community

Teachers discuss articles with each other in a dedicated forum, having discussions that might not otherwise take place among teachers from different divisions and departments.

What Should You Post On Facebook?

A recent study “cracks” Facebook’s algorithms, with implications for school content managers.

http://www.edsocialmedia.com/2010/10/what-should-you-post-on-facebook/

It’s all about social media, except when it isn’t.

I led a training session the other day to further integrate social media into our admission and development work. We considered a range of new uses: student bloggers, a dedicated Facebook page for applicants, Flickr and YouTube channels. Some potential initiatives were certainly exciting to consider.

Here’s the problem. None of the new ideas made the cut when we listed priority tasks for the upcoming year. I asked what were each department’s primary communication goals for the upcoming year, without presupposing the solution. In all cases, the identified goals suggested changes to our existing website, not our social media strategy.

Why? While we have a successful website, it has more room for improvement than does our social media strategy. The main website receives 3,000 visits each day. Our Facebook fan page has about 500 fans. Improvements to the main website will reach far more people.

Also consider that our main website allows users to more meaningfully transact with the school than does our social media pages. For example, you may sign up to volunteer, make a gift to the school, apply for admission, or comment on a student blog. Our Facebook and Twitter pages primarily push content out to people who may be listening and offer some opportunities for interaction. Our main website may have limited opportunities for social interaction, but it offers more opportunities further up the engagement pyramid.

I am glad that we  developed a social media strategy and voice. A small and growing proportion of our audience maintains contact with the school through that vehicle. It improves our ability to engage in a personal way with constituents. However, we will continue to parcel out our time and effort based on the audience size and quality of interaction with the school. We will be able to adjust these efforts as we track the growth in social media page membership and interactions.