Sunday, February 26, 2006

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Social ties online-- Pew Report

The Pew Internet & American Life Project today released a report describing how the internet improves Americans' capacity to maintain their social networks and how they gain a big payoff when they use the internet to activate those networks to solicit help.

The report is based on two surveys and finds that the internet and email expand and strengthen the social ties that people maintain in the offline world. The surveys show that people not only socialize online, but they also incorporate the internet into their quest for information and advice as they seek help and make decisions.

Disputing concerns that heavy use of the internet might diminish people's social relations, the report finds that the internet fits seamlessly with Americans' in-person and phone encounters. With the help of the internet, people are able to maintain active contact with sizable social networks, even though many of the people in those networks do not live close to them.

The report, "The Strength of Internet Ties," highlights how email supplements, rather than replaces, the communication people have with others in their network.

is blogging the next big change in our lives?

Over the past two years there has been increasing buzz about the business of blogs. A host of books have been written recently that assert that blogging or two-way conversations across cyberspace will change our ways of living and doing business.

Here is the first chapter is naked conversations.

Tell me what you think about this? Is something really changing?

Are you blogging?

Is this more than the usual diary stuff?

Is there something here?

Not many blogs about the U of Illinois

I have continued to read Naked Conversations. Much of the book doesn't seem to apply at the moment to higher education. Much of their advice makes more sense for businesses, especially tech businesses that already have a lot of people who are online much of the time. I checked to see how the U of I was fairing in terms of mentions in blogs (roughly 25,000 posts that mention the U of I. (See table below from Technorati.) In recent weeks we have had more attention to an announcment about the development of a quantum computer (another tech item) and a controversy at the student newspaper over publication of the Muslim cartoons.

In short at the moment I don't think there are lots of students or others who are interested in following news about the U of I via blogs, but tech folks have often led the first wave and what was only a "geek" phenonmena at one time has frequently become common in several years.

Posts that contain "university Of Illinois" per day for the last 30 days.
Technorati Chart
Get your own chart!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

HigherEdBlogcon scheduled in April 2006

Highedblogcon is scheduled to begin April 3, 2006. This blog event is designed to bring together higher education people around use of the social web for teaching, alumni relations, websites, and much more. Seems like this would be an interesting way to see what is going on.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Shel Israel thinks educators should have naked conversations

As a novice blogger I suppose the first big thrill is having your first comment (by somebody other than a relative or somebody you put up to it.... My mention of Dan Gillmour got the first comment now I got mentioned in Shel Israel's naked conversation blog. Israel responds to the question I posed which is "should educators have naked conversations?" As would be expected thinks that educators should be bloggers and that this would be good for universities. This is not a surprising response from the blogging community, but I am more curious about faculty and administrators in higher education.

We haven't been the quickest to adopt technology. I wouldn't be surprised in overhead projectors are still more commonly used on college campuses than any other form of technology.

Of course, there are the technology-leaders among our ranks, but what's the mainstream doing?

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Open2Learn--a Wiki experiment

Today I decided I had better try out this wiki idea and see how these things work. So here it is.

The "Open2Learn" wiki. Apologies for the advertisements.
The Wikispaces software seems easy enough to use. I didn't have too much trouble getting a first and second page created. My goal is to put some of my longer articles here.

Wikis as an educational tool

According to the Wikipedia, a "wiki" is an Hawaiian word for "quick." Thus, a wikipedia is a "quick encyclopedia. " The main feature of a "wiki" is that the software allows for multiple users to creative a collaborative workspace. The Wikipedia is a collaborative encylopedia written by many users.

It allows people to build a shared knowledge space. Particularly for those educators who have been interested in contructivist-based approaches for teaching this ability to create a shared knowledge base allows educators to involve students in the construction of knowledge or information about an area of study and then provide feedback and elaboration of this information. (See How People Learn for a complete explanation of the current research on designing learning environments.)

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Can educators have naked conversations?

The new book by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel, naked conversations, arrived on my door step today. They are unabashedly enthusiastic about blogging for businesses. Here is a sample of their Introduction.

"We envision a day in the future when companies that don't blog will be held suspect to some degree, wih people wondering whether those companies have something to hide or whether the owners are worried about what the people who work for them have to say" (p. 1).

Are universities and schools in this category? If principals, teachers, professors, college deans and presidents blogged, what would this do for our schools and universities? Is this a way to get in touch our students, potential students, parents, taxpayers, critics?

Scoble and Israel go on to write:
"If you choose to join the conversation , your company will be better for it, and your customers will be happier. You will develop better products and services by enjoying their collective wisdom, and you will save a ton of money by dumping expensive marketing tactics that not only don't work, but annoy the people they target" (p. 2).
Sounds good to me. Who wouldn't want to get in on this? Is this real? Can I really engage in deep and meaningful conversations with people online or is this just true in some aspects of the business world? Sure there are haters and lovers of Microsoft, but do people have the same passion about their schools or their universities.... I mean besides the sports teams?

More from Scoble and Israel:
"The revolution is about the way businesses communicate, not just with customers but with their entire constitiuencies-- partners, vendors, employees, prospects, investors and the media" (p. 3).
School and universities have all of the audiences as well as businesses. For the most part we have been more distant than many businesses from our students, investors (taxpayers), employees, and so forth. And we have never had the resources to effectively market our products and services. Shouldn't we be exploring a technology trend that promises to increase our ability to talk with those who care about our work?