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.


opencontent said...

The question is an LMS conducive to a social objects-based approach is a great one. Can you imagine any other system (e.g., Facebook) being successful if every 15 weeks they kicked you off the system, shut down the groups you had formed, deleted your forum posts, and unshared all the files you had shared? Obviously not.

A great question and comparison!

Shawn said...

I see your point and had not though of the time limitation LMSs have. It would be pretty counter productive to shut them down. I guess if the students really valued it they would be outraged at a 15 week shutdown...If they are forced and just do it for a grade they probably would'nt care (which is too bad and too common).

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