Landing : Athabascau University

Social Networking Integration at Univ of Pennsylvania

A few of use at ELC attended a free webinar this afternoon to hear how wonderful the social networking is at U. of Pennsylvania. For those not familiar (and the presenters reminded us) Penn is a top rated Ivy League school founded by non other than Benjamin Franklin himself.

The presentation entitled Moving Beyond the Course to the Virtual Campus: Perspectives on the Evolution of Social Web Modalities in Education told the story of Penn's evolution beyond the LMS. They have worked with a hosted solution company GoingOn Networks to deploy a landing-like social network. Their platform uses open source tools and seems to provide very little beyond what is available on the Landing except a better notification service. By that I mean that users can direct action notifications to email, text, Twitter or Facebook. I got the impression that this was only one-way notification. I did see a product demonstrated at my talk last weekend in Philadelphia, ConnectYard, that provided two-way interaction between these various tools and integrated these with Blackboard and Moodle.

The rationale for employing this additional platform, was the usual need to add informal spaces and communities so that the on line students were able to participate in and feel the "Penn experience'. Unlike the Landing, it seemed permissions to create groups was restricted to certain faculty/staff, but they noted the capacity to add sports and other staff and extra-curricular 'communities" to the site.

My coverall impression was that the rationale for having a "more than LMS" digital infrastructure is strong and being recognized by more and more institutions. I was also pleased to see that our home-grown elgg install seems to be at least in the same ball park as a hosted commercial service. Interesting as well to hear that GoingOn Networks has upgraded their system 4 times in the last 3 months - indicating that this type of rapid evolution that we have been dealing with on elgg, is normal in the web 2.0 world - and a challenge to slower management systems.

For those interested, the webinar sponsors (Chronicle of Higehr Education) promised a link to the recording, which I will add to this post when it arrives.


  • Some thoughts on this.

    A phrase I heard recently "Present events make future trends" comes to mind. The case they make for what they are doing is so compellilng it's hard to imagine that things wouldn't continue to evolve in this direction, and this for an institution with only a small online offering (summer school, basically). If let's say most universities have social networking embedded into their pedagogy say in 5 years, where will those that don't have it be, especially online universities?Won't it seem odd?

    We are depending primarily on the student-content interaction in your theory Terry. But you may have to update the theory, since for example "curated content" is an interaction with content but mediated by another (either faculty or student). (Probably you already have...)

    One of the rationales I heard clearly this time is that students really want different platforms for different purposes - and who doesn't? And then of course the pedagogy of engagement. Personally I don't go to static sites (i.e. without comments) much more to learn what I want to learn about in my personal space any more.  Comments from other readers really have become a handy (not to say reliable) barometer about the worth of the content, adequate for the speed of surfing. That's just  how it is.

    So it seems the Landing is really on the right track. But that is preaching to the choir....

    Michael Cenkner October 11, 2011 - 3:43pm

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