Landing : Athabascau University

Social Software

  • Public
By Claire Coulter November 27, 2016 - 10:01am
Social Software

I have decided that my blog post here in the Landing will act as my porfolio reflection for this week of the course.  Not sure how this will work as I will have to link here from my site, but provided that my settings are "public", perhaps this will work!

I joined the landing a couple of years ago after emailing with a fellow classmate from my very first MDDE course.  He wanted to design his thesis around theories of connectivism, persistence, and social networks.  I am probably not getting this completely right, and I'm sure it was/is far more complex that my limited description.  I had logged in, poked around, joined a random group on eTextbooks...and haven't been back since.

Like others in our class have noted, the Landing is not all that intuitive, despite how it is described in our Moodle book.  It feels like it perhaps suffers from feature bloat, similar to many LMSs.  Anderson (2016) acknowledges that many social networking sites indeed share a similar feature set with the common LMS, but that the key distinction lies in the locus of control.  Where most LMSs are controlled by an institution, and individual course sites are instructor-centred and constrained by fixed periods of time, social networking sites are inherently more learner-centred and typically perist online, and at their best allow "students and faculty to create, explore, and communicate across the world wide web" (Anderson, 2016, p.5).   

But, back to my comment about bloat.  Continuing with the metaphor of the "walled garden" from an earlier post - if an LMS is indeed walled, then perhaps a social networking site is just a garden?  Anderson (2016) seems to think so as he also employs this metaphor in a recent series of posts for Contact North, "Three Pillars of Educational Technology".  The statement that struck me as most interesting in the post on social networks, was his asserstion that, "[l]ike gardens, successful social websites are thoughtfully designed and regularly cultivated, weeded and thinned by the engaged faculty member" (Anderson, 2016). When I read this statement and considered the Landing, it felt like somebody has forgot to prune in a loooong time.  Perhaps this is due to the fact that in my experience, the Landing really does sit outside of a course, and so there is no impetus for the trimming and weeding suggested.  There are benefits to this of course, as why reinvent the wheel when so many discussions can, and do, happen in Moodle?  More, as graduate students, we really *do* have a large degree of control as to what we do here.  That being said, this being my 7th course in the program, it was the first time that the Landing has been mentioned *in* a course, and so I question how other students come to find it?  

If I were to consider what I *do* like about the landing, one of the first things that came to mind was not only the great potential for student generated content, but also the ability to choose and ascribe varying levels of access to said content.  As mentioned, for this post, I can easily choose for it to be public.  But, I could have limited it in many ways including to logged in users, members of our class group etc.  This level of customization around access and privacy on the level of individual posts is welcome.   Indeed issues of privacy as we have learned, are among the most important when considering the use of social networking in education.  In my experience, (and yes this is a generalization) incoming post-secondary students today may have experience with Facebook, or Twitter, blogs or wikis, but what is less certain, is whether they have been given any guidance on issues of digital identity, certainly questions of privacy being a big part of this conversation.  

I remember a couple of years ago having this conversation with a faculty member at my institution.  He had noticed that a student in his class was very engaged on Twitter and was retweeting many of the instructors' tweets, and more contributing many thoughtful comments of her own.  When the instructor clicked on the student's profile to follow her, he was dismayed that her profile's statement read "Full time student.  Part time weed smoker". It was not that he was judging her for her habits or consumption, it was more that he was literally shaking his head that this was how she had decided to describe herself to the world.  University of British Columbia's Digital Tatoo project is a good start to asking learners to think about these questions.  Designed to "raise questions, provide examples and links to resources to encourage [learners] to think about [one's] presence online, navigate the issues involved in forming and re-forming [one's] digital identity and learn about [one's] rights and responsibilities as a digital citizen" (About, n.d.), it is a good first step, though I have no idea how and if it is adopted well on campus.  My point is this, maybe it *is* sometimes okay to be closed to the public - perhaps at least until we have the skills and tools required to expose our ideas (and selfies) to the world? 

I digress.  Here I am blogging on the Landing.  It will persist beyond this course, and it is public to the world - both good things in my opinion.  But, will I come here again often after this course is over?  I'm still not sure.  

References provided on my portfolio site at clairecoulter.weebly.com.

 

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