Monday, September 29, 2008

Social objects can be defined pretty broadly. They can be anything that creates a socialty among people and helps them gather together to tak, debate, collaborate, or just plain hang out. That group of people that becomes a society around an object may be a specific, narrowly defined group of people or it may be wide open for anyone. All of these "objects" have nodes or things for people to grab onto and congregate around which enables them to become social objects. So can educational content be a social object. Of course it can. Can it be a succesful social object; an object that perhaps you could build a social network around? That is hard to say but my first thought is that the type of content would define your network and limit the people who would be interested in joining it. I think the social aspect would be more narrowly defined. However, I almost might disagree with myself and say that a social object could be very successful even if you cannot build a large network around it. The objective of creating an educational social object might be to create understanding, establish a base of people who are discussing certain things. In that case it might be very successful despite the size of the network.

Can assessments or assignments be social objects? Why or why not?

The object is the reason people connect with each other rather than connecting elsewhere. So I could see a community of scientists, for example, let's say you have a set of assessments that help you understand whether you are forming a good set experiments and logic for a scientific hypothesis. I could see the science community connecting with each other because of that set of assessments. I have to admit though that it is hard for me to see Assessments acting as social objects that can be used as a means to build a social network.

The same with assignments. If the content of the assignment is open to people and particularly interesting people may congregate around one of the blogs we have created. Or perhaps assignments could be forced social objects. If a set of students are required to gather around certain online assignments and connect through and because of them they have become social objects.

Both assessments and assignments, since they are a type of educational content, could become social objects.

Lets's look at what some people call the five key principles of building social networks using social objects:

1. You should be able to define the social object your service is built around.
2. Define your verbs that your users perform on the objects.
3. How can people share the objects?
4. Turn invitations into gifts.
5. Charge the publishers, not the spectators.

It is hard for me to see assessmentes or assignments in this role.

I have used blackboard...I think it could be spiced up with social objects...

If you've ever taken a class that used a learning management system (LMS) like Blackboard, how compatible does the idea of social objects appear to be with the notion of a learning management system?

The food at a party in a lot of ways is a metaphor for social objects. One implication is that when the food is gone the people are gone. Or when the food tastes bad it can ruin the party. In education when the content runs out or no longer helps us think, learn and collaborate it has run its course as an educational social object and should be left...We got what we needed out of it so let's not beat a dead horse. Tests are sometimes like this. You learn how to think, how to assess and how to solve problems and then test time comes and instead of testing you on what you got out of the content the test is based on the content itself which no longer serves a useful purpose.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


What can wikis be used for in education?...anything that is paper in a classroom, could be converted to a wiki. Group projects, class collaboration and problem based learning can be facilitated by wikis.

In one article I read the students used a wiki and worked in groups to solve problems. They also posted pages for test reviews that were well done. These are younger children but they understand and grasp how to use these tools very well.

I think that in general wikis, blogs, etc. are plug and play. We should ask what are our needs in learning and education? Then we look at all the tools out there, whether it be a wiki or blog etc. and evaluate whether it is a good solution or not. What needs are there for web pages focused on certain topics and have the capalility to vote on content, to be edited, searched, and tagged? Whatever needs we may have for a tool with those specifications a viable solution could be a wiki. Will that be the case in 5 years, perhaps not.

I can imagine very easily a social issue that needs to be analyzed using knowledge of a discipline, say creative energy sources and biology. The problem could be posted on a wiki with some structure to the site and then the students would research, dig, learn, write and check the work of each other.

By no means should we force the use of technology just for technology's sake in education.


Dynamic collaboration in an open wiki's biggest weakness in my mind is that at any one moment they may contain inaccurate information. While I believe that these errors for the most part would be corrected fairly quickly if anything in a wiki is being cited in a paper or presentation you cannot guarantee the information in the wiki at any moment. Maybe that is not a bad thing but the way I see it it compromises its fidelity a little bit.

It seems that the biggest strength is the ability for virtually anyone to contribute to the wiki and improve it. Many more perspectives can be represented and biases can be limited. Information can be added as it changes or evolves which gives the opposite of what I mentioned above, the ability at any moment to get correct, up-to-date information.

Overall the positives outweigh the negatives and the negatives found in "closed-content," print materials seem to be much greater that in open content where many experts, and people are contributing.

I made a few improvements to the Wikipedia article on the Missionary Training Center by adding some information on the international MTCs, specifically the Brazil MTC. I also changed the total capacity because it was too high. We'll see if anyone changes it back.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Informal Learning

I ACCIDENTALLY DELETED MY BLOG...Here are the posts from before...

As I dug around for something on blogs I ran into the idea of informal learning which seems to be receiving some buzz in training/educational circles. The main idea is that most of our learning is informal...which I take to mean that we just learn more as we do and experience things; as we explore and dig around and research. That learning may be unexpected or intentional.

Blogs, wikis, internet media, and free content have probably increased the effectiveness of informal learning in a big way. 50 years ago informal learning may not have occupied such a big piece of the learning pie; I can't prove that though it seems intuitive that the internet has provided opportuinities to learners where previously they were scarce of non-existent. While I don't think we should play down the importance of formal training and learning it seems to me that high quality blogs, written by subject matter experts and experienced individuals, could enhance informal learning, particularly intentional informal learning. Do the organizations that we belong to understand the power of informal learning and the tools that can be used to facilitate it? What if job development was not found in training meetings, or educational conferences? It could be better found, in some instances, in some free time for employees/students and an insatiable attitude of learning.

Why this class?

Right now I am sitting in Argentina...It is a beautiful place with wonderful people. I am staying in the building you see to the left. As I sit here it is pretty obvious to me why I took this class. There are 16 different locations in 16 different countries that speak 4 different languages and our job is to work and support them. Our biggest challenge...maintaing clear, consistent personal contact and communication. I hope that we can find some tools that will enable us to collaborate, not only on a two way basis, us between them, but also in a way that allows them to connect with each other. The use of new media does not seem to be a fad that will come and go like a shooting star but I think its use will continue to grow and remain. Most of my friends have been using it for business, networking, and staying in touch. Others use it to share their feelings about the Gospel and their faith. I need to do a little more of all of that. Plus in a way blogs, wikis and other media can be wonderful records for family and for ourselves. Anyway, to say a little about myself. I have been married for almost four years to a wonderful, beautiful woman named Nadia. She is from San Diego. We have a 7 month year old explosion of fun and energy named Emerson. I served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Chile and my love for Latin America, Chile and the Gospel have been important parts of my life ever since. If I can be where I want I'll head for the mountains without regard to the season. Other than that, I love reading, learning, volleyball, soccer and of course my family! That is me and why I am in the class.

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