Friday, March 10. 2006
This entry is for my presentation today at the NJEDge.NET 7th Annual Faculty-to-Faculty Best Practices Showcase. The theme of the day is "Integrating Technology into Teaching and Learning" and my session is on "Social Computing and Personal Broadcasting"
Rather than use the overused PowerPoint, I have been posting items on this blog and on one of my NJIT wikis.
There's a lot more here than I can get to during the session, but it's a great way to exchange information and links AND if participants check back after today, the information will be updated and expanded.
As a small experiment in social computing, I asked NJEDge to pass on the link to this blog and the
My session abstract reads: "The New Media Consortium's Emerging Technologies Initiative 2006 report on expanding the boundaries of teaching, learning and creative expression puts "social computing" and "personal broadcasting" at the top of their trends. Social computing, using websites such as MySpace, Facebook, and wikis, and personal broadcasting methods, such as podcasting and video blogging, is growing in use at a rapid pace with our students - and educators are being left behind. This session will give an overview of these trends with examples from students and faculty, and then focus on NJIT's current work using free and open-source wiki and blogging software to create non-commercial online collaborative spaces for academic use."
I'm talking about a number of web applications, open source software, and downloadable tools. I see these collaborative tools as very useful for asynchronous teaching/learning, for distance learning via internet, face-to-face support and hybrid courses and training. [Yes, this is AKA "Web 2.0" - that's "web 2-point-0" - see my earlier entry on that topic.]
According to a survey by the Pew Internet and American Life Study, 50% of teens have created content for the web; 20% have a blog or have posted to one (for girls 15-17, it's 39% and for boys 12-14 it's 32%) When queried about what they have personally shared online, the most common responses were: photos, diary-type entries, artwork, stories, poems, links, schoolwork.
Some social computing sites and tools:
Some wikis will allow completely unrestricted access so that people are able to contribute to the site without necessarily having to undergo a process of 'registration', as had usually been required by various other types of interactive websites such as Internet forums or chat sites.
In music, you can build your own "radio station" using Pandora by selecting artists and songs, and their software will begin adding/suggesting new music for you. Their software goes beyond the suggest a book/suggest a movie models used by Amazon.com and Netflix - they call their algorithm the Music Genome Project. You can share your music (station) with friends or just listen to stations that others are sharing. I created an eclectic Ronk Radio station and a second jazzy station for testing.
An easy way to edit images online if you don't have software available (or don't know PhotoShop et al) is to use PXN8.com. It allows you to do basic image editing online without having to download any software. You can save your changes or directly upload them to Flickr which is a very popular photo sharing site.Here are some photos I uploaded to Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/ronk/ The site's clustering and tagging functions are interesting. What we might call metatagging if we were doing it with our own content, becomes folksonomy when the Net community takes over.
Protopage is a site that allows to to put up web pages on the fly. You can allow others to collaborate on the pages by giving them the login/password. Take a look at a Protopage that I did to demonstrate Protopage to some faculty at NJIT. http://www.protopage.com/teachnology
A number of sites are offering space online to create collaborative documents (not a web page). One of those is Writely and another is Writeboard. I set up a page on Writeboard for people in my group to work on a document about an upcoming seminar we are creating at NJIT. One nice feature of this is that it is not public - it requires a (shared) password for the group. Even though we share one password, the site allows us to tag our edits with our names so that we can see who did what.
Writeboard is part of a group of tools from an interesting company called 37signals.com. They also offer free (and premium for $ versions) tools. They have BaseCamp, There's a pretty robust collaboration site that combines several of their tools called Backpack (Watch a 3 minute video (not mine) about using backpack at http://backpackit.com/example_movies/BackpackG4TV-small.mov) There's a really easy to use online "to do" list for yourself or to share with a group named TaDa List.
With all the content out there, it was only a matter of time before we wouldn't be able to keep up on all the technology. It happened with Web 1.0 after a few years and that's when Yahoo and others stepped in to "index" the web and make finding things easier.
There are sites that allow you to bookmark what you like and allow others to share your recommendations and add their own comments or bookmarks. I've seen this called social bookmarking or linklogs.
del.icio.us ("keep your favorite websites, music, books, and more in a place where you can always find them. share your favorites with family, friends, and colleagues. discover new and interesting things by browsing popular & related items.")
digg ("Digg is a technology news website that combines social bookmarking, blogging, RSS, and non-hierarchical editorial control. With digg, users submit stories for review, but rather than allow an editor to decide which stories go on the homepage, the users do.")Slide - shows you a visual stream of things you like but don't have time to search for. You can watch the slideshow or put it on any website or blog so others can watch.The slides can be breaking news about world events, business, sports and entertainment, things to buy, singles near you, updates from your favorite blogs, photos you love - Slide turns it all into a stream of pictures you can click on.
Thursday, March 9. 2006
Mashups are another example of Web 2.0. The term comes from the musical genre of songs by the same name that consist entirely of parts of other songs. A mashup online is a web application hybrid. It's a website or web application that combines content from more than one source. It attempts to combine
One place to find mashups is at programmableweb.com which currently lists more than 450 mashups.
Many people are experimenting with mashups using eBay, Amazon, Google, and Yahoos APIs.
CelebSoup mixes a variety of sites - at http://www.celebsoup.com/New_York_Yankees.html a page mashes books, news, pictures, eBay, DVDs, music, apparel, online video and links all about the NY Yankees. Since all the content is updated and generated by third parties (eBay, Amazon, Yahoo etc.), the page's host does not have to update the page.
darwin.zoology.gla.ac.uk - is a UK zoology site that is pulling data from multiple sources on-the-fly to create species info pages (with this link, it's the Golden Eagle)
Do the third parties like these mashups? Yes. It drives business to their sites, which is why they are providing ways of linking easily to them.
Tech commentator Larry Magid speaks with three mashup site pioneers in this episode of the IT Conversations show "Larry's World."
Wednesday, March 8. 2006
American author, mostly of science fiction novels - called the father of the cyberpunk movement, a subgenre of science fiction - coined the term "cyberspace."
Gibson blogs and often includes excerpts from his work there.
"Emergent technology is, by its very nature, out of control, and leads to unpredictable outcomes."
"...I felt that I was trying to describe an unthinkable present and I actually feel that science fiction's best use today is the exploration of contemporary reality rather than any attempt to predict where we are going... The best thing you can do with science today is use it to explore the present. Earth is the alien planet now." --from an interview on CNNfn, August 26, 1997.
from Burning Chrome "...the street finds its own uses for things."
From his Wikipedia entry:
The Difference Engine (1990; with Bruce Sterling)
Pattern Recognition (2003)
Spook Country (2007)
Tuesday, March 7. 2006
Wednesday, April 5, 2006 -- 8 am - 2:30 pm at NJIT, Newark, NJ
A one-day seminar designed for non-technical professionals that will give you a broad range of information about podcasts, blogs and wikis. Experts from each field will present information to enhance your understanding and knowledge of these cutting edge marketing tools. The day will include three sessions:
â€œNew Technologies in Communications: Podcastingâ€Presented by Steve Lubetkin, Lubetkin & Co. Communications,LLC, Cherry Hill New Jersey
Podcasts, digital audio programs delivered through Internet-related technologies, can enable communications professionals to reach narrowly-targeted audiences more effectively than mass marketing techniques.
â€œCorporate and Organizational Weblogging: From First Steps to Communities of Practiceâ€
Presented by Dr. Drew Ross, Visiting Fellow, Oxford University
Organizational and Corporate Blogs are transforming the way in which groups communicate-- both within companies/organizations and to the rest of the world. This seminar will bring the participants up to full speed on the world of work-related weblogging and will enable participates to transfer knowledge and engage in informed thinking about how blogs might operate within their own organization. With a focus on using weblogs to encourage (and house, in some cases) Communities of Practice (CoPs), the workshop will engage participants in some real-life problem-based thinking about the technical, ethical, and social aspects of work weblogging, with examples and vignettes from real life weblogging situations.
Wikis are often described as â€œcollaborative web sites" and are being used for project management, knowledge sharing and proposal writing. The benefits of this collaborative approach include reducing daily phone calls, e-mails and meeting time as well as encouraging collaboration. Internet research firm, the Gartner Group, predicts that Wikis will become mainstream collaboration tools in at least 50% of companies by 2009. Peter Thoeny, creator of TWiki, a leading Wiki program, says at least 20,000 downloads of his software are being used by businesses. Walt Disney, SAP, Adobe, Nokia, Novell and Motorola are among the corporations using Wikis for collaboration.
Fee: $300 - your participation will award you .6 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) and includes continental breakfast and lunch. Register Now!
Free parking for this event is available on campus in the NJIT secured parking deck. Directions to campus, parking and maps
Payment is expected at the time of registration. Credit cards are accepted. Refund policy: 100% refund up to 5 days prior to day of the event. No refund is given within 5 days of the event.
Monday, March 6. 2006
Anyone who has gone surfing (the old-fashioned water kind) knows that in every set of waves there are a few really big ones. I see postings online about the "third wave" for the Internet or the "killer apps" that have changed the web and predictions of what the next killer application will be. Most predictions turn out to be wrong. It's even difficult to write a history of the Internet if you want to make choices about what the most important events have been - it's the basic "Top Ten List" problem. This is my own personal set of waves.
The three apps that got things moving for me were hyperlinking, email and the browser. [There's already a generation that doesn't realize that there was a time when the web didn't have links and you didn't use a browser.]
Email makes the killer apps list all the time. However, it predates the Internet. It started in 1965 as a way for multiple users of a time-sharing mainframe computer to communicate. The history is somewhat unclear, but some of the first systems to have such email were SDC's Q32 and MIT's CTSS. In 1969, US Air Force users were sending text messages by making punched cards and transmitting them as card decks from one computer to another. ARPANET added email transfers soon after its creation and Ray Tomlinson initiated the use of the @ sign to separate the names of the user and their machine in 1971. If I include email in my history, it is for the entry of tools like Outlook and the early offerings of free email accounts.
My wife was using Minitel (Teletel - France Telecom) in the early 1980's in her French classes well before I had established any real connections online. It was an early indicator to me that social networks would be developed in education. Like many teachers, although I had some access to the Internet at school, I didn't have it at home until late in 1989 when AOL launched.
My history deliberately jumps over some important technology and software: TC/IP in 1983, DNS in 1984, NSFNET with itsbackbone speed of 56Kbps in 1986 which allowed many new connections (especially at universities)
America Online was for many people in the early 1990's was THE Internet. (AOL for Windows came out in 1993) Yes, I know that now in 2006 to say that you have AOL (except for the AIM service) is embarrassing. They offered a special deal to teachers at a lower cost (I don't recall the price, but I know I got 40 hours per month which seemed like a lot.) AOL, like other popularizers to follow (Netscape, iTunes...) was a big wave. Not for innovation, but for bringing it to the masses. There were others that faded - Prodigy, CompuServe, GEnie - but AOL hung on.
Another big wave came as the web began to fill with pages (and many of them were junk that began to clog the web) and it was obvious we needed a directory or index to search. Enter Yahoo, Google and the many search engines that have fallen off the web that allow you to find things.
Subscriptions is another wave that is still cresting. The ability (generally using RSS feeds) to subscribe to blogs, news sites and podcasts is already well established [Bloglines, Feedburner, Newsgator, iTunes, iPodder]. When Apple came in with iTunes and its music store, it made downloading music legal and easy. Those who pirate music would say it's still easier to download it illegally and Apple adds digital rights management (DRM) to it's downloads which limits your ability to do "whatever you want" with the music. Apple built up a strong base, so when they introduced podcasts to the store (though almost all were free to download) it seemed like they invented podcasting. The fact that the term podcasting evolved from iPod didn't hurt them either and there are still many uninitiated who believe you need an (Apple) iPod to listen to podcasts.
A smaller wave that follows subscriptions and is just building is personal broadcasting. It probably should be personal narrowcasting since a lot of what is being offered is for a small, niche audience. The same thing happened with TV when cable (originally called CATV for Community Antenna TV) took hold. Who would have predicted when cable systems first emerged that there would be major channels for food or gardening? There was a little swell in that industry when community access channels were offered (required by law in 1969) and many people thought we would see a lot of local/amateur/homegrown video. That swell never created a wave that was worth riding. Local public access channnels still don't come close after 3 decades to fufilling the predictions.
Sometimes I even click on an ad or find it interesting (Amazon suggestions, some Google ads that have keyed on an appropriate word on the webpage - ads that were "well placed") I'm not saying that ads are a killer app, but they are a large part of the Net. Will Web 2.0 have ads? Absolutely.
more to come...
Sunday, March 5. 2006
I've already written here about academic blogging but I want to add some information that will help you find blogs that deal with your interests.
Bloglines is a free online service for searching, subscribing, creating and sharing news feeds, blogs and rich web content. No software to download or install -- simply register as a new user and you can instantly begin accessing your account any time, from any computer or mobile device. Bloglines connects you to dynamic content that is being created and distributed over the new "live" web. You can make your own personalized news page tailored to your unique interests from their index of tens of millions of live internet content feeds, including articles, blogs, images and audio.
Bloglines not only helps you collect all the feeds that interest you in one place, but is also a good place to just search for blogs by keywords.
There are so many blogs that we need ways to search the blogosphere. Google has, of course, entered the fray with their blog search engine. Using it, I can find a blog about social computing, such as http://socialsoftware.weblogsinc.com
What are the most popular blogs right now? You can check out the always-updating list at Technorati http://technorati.com/pop/blogs/ However, view the list as you would view the most popular movies and books lists - not necessarily the BEST blogs, but the most popular. There's plenty of trash out there too.
Saturday, March 4. 2006
There seems to be a fascination (American) with turning nouns into verbs, so now you can be "facebooked."
verb: The action of 1) looking someone up on the facebook website or 2) asking someone to be your friend on facebook.
That girl I met at the frat last night facebooked me this morning.
If you are a member of this particular online social computing community, you can also "poke" someone (a kind of gentle message without content), send an email-style message to them or leave a message on their "wall."
So what is thefacebook?
According to Mark Zuckerberg (founder):
"The idea for the website was motivated by a social need at Harvard to be able to identify people in other residential housesâ€”Harvard is a fairly unfriendly place. While each residential house listed directories of their residents, I wanted one online directory where all students could be listed. And Iâ€™ve always enjoyed building things and puttering around with computer code, so I sat down and in about a week I had produced the basic workings of the site.
We had a launch plan to enter into other colleges based on where friends would be most likely to overlap, so the site spread organically based upon that model and now we operate on a broad spectrum of campuses. It doesnâ€™t make sense to exclude anybody or any college from the resources that facebook offers. This is a product that should be fun and useful for all college students.
We donâ€™t view the site as an online communityâ€”we bill it as a directory that is reinforcing a physical community. What exists on the site is a mirror image of what exists in real life.
To a certain extent, the website is unfortunate because it oversimplifies things. Everybodyâ€™s concept of having a friend is different. It can definitely blur the relationships that exist between people. But in the end, I think that thefacebook can only reinforce preexisting communities. We think we have been particularly successful in strengthening those relationships that exist between people who are only â€œfringe friends.â€
Itâ€™s not unusual for us to receive an email from somebody saying, â€œI spend all of my time on your website and now I have less of a social life than I had before.â€ We would much rather have people meet people through the website and go out and party than stay at home on a Friday night reading other peopleâ€™s profiles. And itâ€™s surprising, but we have actually received far less complaints about stalking than we otherwise would have expected."
I joined facebook myself mostly to see what it was all about. I knew that my college-aged sons both used it. (It seemed like my younger son - a freshman in 2005 - met a hundred people at his school through facebook during orientation and the first weeks - plus all his high school friends at other schools that were added to his friends list - and then their friends who added him...)
I felt pretty sad at first because I had no one to add to my list. I started with my sons who "allowed" me to be their friends (you do have to approve someone's request to be added) though they made me promise never to put something on their wall.
I sense that parents/adults play no real role in facebook, though alumni can create accounts for their alma mater (if you graduated before 1995 I would not expect to find any of your classmates there) and faculty can have a profile at their school. I really didn't like that my profile said "You have 0 friends at NJIT." Who would? So I had to facebook a few students that I thought would say OK to my request.
Facebook is not really for mom and dad...
Then I started searching on students I had taught in my former K-12 days. Found a few and sent them a message. And that led to a few of their classmates finding me. Social networking...
Now I have 37 friends - which by facebook standards is pretty pathetic it seems. Of course, I only have 55 people on my AOL AIM buddy list (also considered pathetic) so 37 seems about right.
It has been interesting to hear from former students. More interesting to see them, as everyone posts pictures which you can view if you are a friend.
I have shown the site to a few real-life/ in-the-flesh friends and colleagues and the most common comments are:
- Yeah. So what's the point? [Remember, most of my friends are old.]
- Why does everyone seem to have an alcoholic drink in their hand in all the pictures? [sad but true]
- Many more females. [Overall on facebook - I'm not sure. They definitely are more likely to add me as a friend than former male students. Just as they have always been more likely to come back to visit, spot you at a Yankees game and say hello, mail you a letter, IM you etc. Nothing new about that.]
- Wouldn't it scare you if you had a daughter and she was posting pictures, her dorm room #, email address and other info online? [Yes}
- Doesn't it scare you that your sons are doing that? [To a degree - but maintaining a common double standard, not much.]
- Don't you think employers will check this kind of site when screening clients? [I've heard about that. I doubt it's widespread but employers can get access through students, faculty and alumni from an applicant's school. I saw a posting that said "Monster.com is who you portray you are, but Facebook is who you really are.â€ Last fall, North Carolina State University disciplined several students for underage drinking after a resident assistant found party photos of them on Facebook. A few days after students rushed the football field following a Penn State win over Ohio State, campus police found pictures of the incident containing identifiable students on Facebook. Northern Kentucky and the University of Kentucky both have disciplined students theyâ€™d seen drinking in pictures posted on Facebook. Campus police at George Washington University use Facebook to find underage drinkers. Employers and the career center at the University of Kansas use Facebook to evaluate students being considered for KU jobs.
- What about identity theft? [As with any sitaution where you reveal personal information, facebook could open you up to id theft by giving someone enough information to attempt to create a fake account.]
- You can't seriously think that these people actually have 345 "friends"? [Well, not the way we may have once defined friend. I'm pretty confident that someone who has 345 friends on facebook and 150 buddies on AIM realizes that they are not friends in the same way as their 6 really close friends that they see face-to-face regularly.]
That last point has been borne out by research on the Millennial Generation.
I'm going to send a few messages to students in my facebook friends list and ask them to comment here on this blog about my facebook observations. We'll see if they are more likely to comment than my "adult" colleagues who were sent this blog's link prior to my March 10 presentation.
I also just facebooked Mark Zuckerberg. He has 323 friends already, but hey, you can always use a friend, right?
Friday, March 3. 2006
If keeping a blog is a form of participatory journalism, then creating your own podcasts and offering them for download is one form of personal broadcasting.
It's not the only form. MySpace.com started out as a way to offer space to bands and artists without recording contracts so that they could offer mp3 music downloads and get their music heard. They still offer that but they are better known these days for the many personal sites that teens have created there. Another popular indie band site is http://garageband.com.
Internet broadcasting AKA webcasting is competing with - and frightening - traditional, over-the-air radio stations. There are thousands of streams with music and talk being offered by webcasters.
You'll also find crossover. Traditional radio stations are also offering their programming on the web (like my local NPR station in New York City WNYC) and are offering podcasts of archived shows. But I'm not talking about the big guys when I say personal broadcasting.
I'd say that colleges starting out with podcasts (sometimes called coursecasting, though it involves more than just course materials) are somewhere in the middle.
You have big university podcasting programs like Purdue's Boilercast. Listen to a few lectures - if you can. I find them unendurable. 90 minutes of unedited audio (sometimes with frequent references to things on the whiteboard or in an unseen PowerPoint!) It's almost like turning back the clock to the distance learning courses that used 90 minute videotapes of lectures (grad courses at 3 hours - yipes!) We've been celebrating the death of those tapes the last few years at NJIT and I'd hate to see us go back.
Take a look at Stanford's coursecasting that is part of Apple's iTunes U. More interesting. They offer lectures too but also sports, books & authors, music and campus speakers. They range from a few minutes to two hours in length.
Our own first semester of podcast experiments at NJIT includes formal, scripted lectures on World Literature, vodcasts (video podcasts) on Calculus I that run from 6-15 minutes, Calculus II audio lectures done live in class featuring homework solutions so that students can run through the solutions again after class. We are using a "Computers & Society" course that will offer video & audio-only versions to see how students use each. We are very interested in podcasts that have a "shelf life" that goes beyond one semester. Professor Eric Hetherington is preparing podcasts for selected topics for his "Engineering Ethics" course that he believes will be reusable.
We are uploading files in late February/early March to podcast.njit.edu and the files are currently open to the public. You can listen on your computer to any individual podcast or subscribe to a series using iTunes, iPodder or other podcast receivers. We have directions online. The experiment is in progress and we'd like to hear from you if you try out any of our files.
Audioblogger allows you to do blogs with audio and you can submit your text by email and your audio by phone!
Tuesday, February 28. 2006
Blogs are being used in many secondary schools and colleges. They are used for a variety of purposes: authentic writing assignments, collaborative assignments, asynchronous class discussion...
Here are some links to blogging information and some academic blogs to get you started.
Original content in this work is licensed under a Creative Commons License