Friday, 10 September 2010

Blogtalk Galway 2010 (Day 2)

It has now been 2 weeks since the second day of Blogtalk 2010, but some of the themes have been mulling around in my brain since then, even though I haven't had time to write about them. As before, most of my comments will be from a teaching and learning in Higher Education perspective.

Unfortunately, I missed a lot of day 2. But I was lucky to be present at the first keynote of the day, given by Stowe Boyd. This was the highlight of the conference for me.

Stowe Boyd (keynote) Social media blur: blogs, networks, streams
Stowe Boyd talked about the development of blogging and social media over the last 10 years and also gave us a glimpse of a possible future. The blog culture has changed and people are not blogging as much any more. How many blogs do you know where the most recent entry is 3 or 4 months ago and the message is "I must get back to blogging"? People like the immediacy of social networking and social conversations such as twitter. Where people are blogging, they are linking this into their "streams", directing people to blog posts. Boyd also pointed out that comments on blogs are not social conversations, but people are using social streams (like twitter) to comment on blogs.

I found this interesting from my own work perspective in two ways. First, my blogging habits have definitely slowed. When I do write, my posts are more thoughtful. Quick links and pointers I leave to my twitter persona.

My second observation, though, is that the use of social media in teaching and learning is a long way behind the trend indicated in Stowe Boyd's talk. In supporting academic staff use of learning technologies, we are still moving people along from discussion boards, to using student blogs for reflection and wikis for collaboration. For the majority of staff, these are new and exciting ways to engage students. The use of facebook or twitter in teaching and learning, while happening, is still unproven for the majority of teaching staff.

As for the future, I was relieved to hear that it is not facebook. In the future, the "like" button will be part of the operating system. The next generation of operating system will contain social interactions as primitive; users will take this as a given.

I missed most of the rest of the day, including the keynote by Deanna Lee from the New York Public Library. (Deanna Lee keynote) However, I did manage to get back in time for the afternoon panel session.

Panel Session on The rise of location-based media sharing and social networks

This was chaired by Mark Cahill (Social Bits), and involved Laurent Walter Goix (Telecom Italia), Fergus Hurley (Clixtr) and Ronan Skehill (Cauwill Technologies).

I'll be honest, I don't get location-based social networking. Maybe I'm too old - I'm certainly older than Fergus Hurley's sister! I hate to think of people being able to track my every movement. So, this was an interesting session for me. Mark Cahill gave a good case from the marketing point of view, but I don't want to be such an easy target.

Mark asked the questions "Why do people check-in? What is the value of a check-in?" I can see the use if you are a stranger in a foreign land looking for recommendations of where to go and what to do. There was some discussion about whether people would check-in (clock-in?) at work, or if it is because people want to be "seen" in a particular location. The consensus seemed to be that you check-in if there is some benefit for you, and Foursquare has not (yet) found the right application.

So, I'm wondering, what would entice a student to check-in to a lecture? We're having this discussion at the moment as we support the launch of a College of Science PRS "clicker" initiative. The focus of the initiative is to engage students, but there is a fear (among students) that the devices will be used to track attendance. Maybe we can introduce a reward scheme for lecture attendance, such as "Mayor of the O'Flaherty Theatre", or it could show up in their twitter feed "I'm at the Kirwan Theatre w/300 others". I don't think so.

I also got to hear talks from Gabriela Avram and Brian O'Donovan, Who am I: social identity in enterprise social networking, and Ted Vickey, Social media and LinkedIn for business. Both of these were interesting and enjoyable, though probably less relevant for T&L in HE.

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