Tag Archives: social media

Reusable and Shareable Learning Objects

When we normally think of reusable learning objects we think of reusing them in other traditional learning settings, be it a chapter of a student manual or a video used in a different e-learning course (yes, e-learning is traditional, isn’t it?).
When we think of modular, reusable learning objects we have to think of them as not just reusable in a traditional sense, but imagine them as shareable learning objects. Media elements to be spread in different social media sites by us (designers/developers) and learners themselves. For instance, when creating a job aid about a process or concept, make it attractive, publish it on different social media sites like Pinterest (the new fad now) so others can also share it. Or perhaps you design a video that can not only be used in a course, but also shared via YouTube. Those are simple examples, but we have to think of learning as a continuum, not just self-contained experiences.
Don’t just design self-contained experiences, design pieces of a whole that can also function separately. Pieces that can be reused, shared in different social networks.
Don’t just design learning media, design potentially social media.

The end of assessment as we know it

“The concept of a job is going away” (Bersin, 2012) and so should the concept of assessment. At least assessment as we know it. Or the assessment forms that we dearly esteem.

The truth is, most educators teach to assess. Yes, the end goal of the learning experience is to prepare learners to succeed in the assessment. Does anyone else see something wrong with this picture?

Take, for instance, the idea of knowledge in the new Capitalism and how communities of practice are key to helping employees understand the whole company process of which they are part, adapt to fast-changing technologies, markets and work environments, share knowledge and encourage one another. Our role as leaders is to create communities of practice around a goal or interest, and help them generate explicit knowledge from the mostly tacit, extensive, distributed and disperse knowledge shared in the communities (Gee, 2000).  Whether we want it or not, whether we (leaders, educators) create them or not, these learners will find ways to connect to their peers in communities of practice. We can choose start them, participate in them, facilitate the knowledge sharing, eve intersperse “educational content” (I mean that in a formal sense of the word, being it synchronous sessions with a facilitator, guided discussions, group activities, etc.). So, how can we measure success in complex and interactive learning communities?

The word “practice” in “community of practice” is key in identifying assessments that would be authentic to the learners of the 21st century.

  • Assessment has to be authentic to the activities they do on the job. Practical. Ask learners to create  a product that related to the goal of the learning experience/community. A sales community/course could, for instance, be assessed on mock sales pitch presentations they create individually or in teams.
  • Assessment can to go beyond the finite notion of a single event. What if the learners that just created a pitch could reuse that for a real encounter with a customer? What if an activity in a technical System Administration community is to create a script that performs a certain task on an Operating System, and, after being assessed positively, feedback provided by peers and facilitator, that script could be then used in the real world by the learner on his/her day-to-day job?
  • Also, assessment has to be part of learning, not the end goal of it. Why make it a boring quiz when it can be a simulation in which the learners put to practice what they shared and discussed during the course of the community?
  • Let members of the community assess one another. Most online community platforms have discussion boards, badges, and other ways of giving kudos to other users.
  • Allow self-reflection. “Did you achieve the goal? Did you successfully sell product X to customer Y? What defines “success” to you? What would you have done differently?”
  • Let the assessment be fun. Have a competition in teams of who performs the task “better” producing a “better” final product, to be assessed by a judge or the community itself.

There are so many form of alternative assessment (NCLRC, 2000), why are we still so dependent on the omniscient LMS as the most used form of accountability in traditional courses?

We are in the 21st century, yet still defining success with ancient measurements…


A Couple of References

Bersin, J., 2012. The End of a Job as We Know It. Forbes Magazine. Retrieved January 20, 2012 from http://www.forbes.com/sites/joshbersin/2012/01/31/the-end-of-a-job-as-we-know-it/.

Gee, JP., 2000.  Communities of practice in the new capitalism. J Learn Sci.

National Capital Language Resource Center (2000). Assessing Learning: Alternative Assessment. Washington DC.

Youtube EDU

There is a vast sea of information out there. In fact, it’s hard not to avoid drowning in it if you, as an educator or learner (which we all are) don’t put strategies in place to organize content by aggregating it using different bookmarking and sharing Web applications (which are a dime a dozen. Tools like Diigo and Pinterest, for instance, are excellent examples of aggregation tools which employ bookmarking and sharing mechanisms.

However, content aggregation can still be an overwhelming task. That’s where content curation comes in play. Services like Smartbrief thrive at selecting target news for users by means of curators. Only the “best content” (at the curators will) are included in perdsonalized newsletters or news briefs which the users can select to receive via email.

Similarly, Youtube is launching Youtube EDU to solve what has been a major pain point for educators trying to use Youtube in the classroom for a long time: inappropriate and irrelevant content. A curation platform for educators, Youtube for Schools allows teachers to select just the right educational videos for their students.

According to Mashable, there are already over 400 playlists curated by Youtube itself in partnership with 600 Education venues including major ones such as the Smithsonian and TED, all organized by grade level, content area (such as Lifelong Learning) and subject matter.

Educators can learn more about producing and sharing their own Youtube videos in the tutorials presented here as well as submit their own playlists to Youtube EDU.

Google+ Project – New Social Networking Service by Google

Will the guys from Techcrunch soon put one more of Google’s social media endeavors in the deadpool akin to Google Video, Google Wave and so many others??

I hope not, this new (“limited Field Trial”) social networking service Google is cooking up sure sounds intriguing and useful: Google+.

Here are the main features of the service (as seen on their project’s landing page):


 Icon for circles Circles
The easiest way to share some things with college buddies, others with your parents, and almost nothing with your boss.

Find out more »Take a tour.

 Icon for hangouts Hangouts
Let friends know you’re free for a video hangout, any time, anywhere. Then catch up, watch YouTube, or… just hangout.

Find out more »Take a tour.

 Icon for sparks Sparks
A feed of just the stuff you’re really into, so when you’re free, there’s always something waiting to be watched, read, or shared.

Find out more »Take a tour.

Museum of Me – a Visualization of Your (online) Social Life

Intel’s Museum of Me is a must-see exhibition of a famous online personality: you.
It pull videos, photos, “likes”, friends, and other information about you on Facebook (with tour permission) and organizes a (fake, you didn’t think they’d really open a museum with photos of you, right?) exhibit featuring your data. Pretty interesting visualization… Will they also include Twitter and others soon?




Gamifying Learning

If you google “gamify“, “gamification” or “gamifying”, you will find several entries with this relatively new trend on the Web (the term is normally related to Web design and marketing).

I just wrote a short chapter on the “Learning Perspectives: 2010“, Gamifying Learning with Social Gaming Mechanics. This is a topic that intrigues me as an instructional designer.

A quick definition of gamification is to bring game mechanics to services that aren’t exactly games in order to increase user/costumer engagement, adoption and loyalty to a brand. According to Stephanie Schwab, gamification can be described as:

  • Make it fun and exciting to be part of a community
  • Reward audiences for participation
  • Encourage pass-along and recommendations
  • Build loyalty and sales through repeat visits and purchases

This new trend has been gaining momentum in the social Web, and publishers can now get access to resources and plugins that help them gamify their websites. Two examples of such services are:

  • Badgeville – This service offers widgets and APIs to integrate on a website that enable rewards, badges and reputation based on pre-determined user actions (e.g. commenting on posts on your blog, uploading user-generated content, etc.).
  • Nitro by BunchBall – This sophisticated gamification system offers an array of features, including the ability to create challenges, adopt leveling, offer badges and virtual goods, implement a leaderboard, and more. All based on user participation on your website which can be fully monitored via an administration and analytics tool offered by the company.
  • BigDoor Quick Gamification Plugin for WordPress – blog visitors can check in to your blog, post comments and perform other user actions to gain virtual rewards and points. Badgeville also offers analytics tools as well as integration with other social media services such as Facebook and Twitter.

Nigel Whiteoak has several blog posts about the topic of gamification here.

Stephanie Schwab has curated several resources about gamification here.

Here is Amy Jo Kim’s “Putting Fun in Functional – Applying Game Mechanics into Functional Software”

Beware, however, that just adding badges and points does NOT imply you are turning whatever your experience you create into a game. As clearly stated by the game design studio Hide&Seek, a game goes being rewards, it has a set of goals and makes achieving them “interestingly hard” for the player, badges and points are just a way to show them keep track of what they’ve achieved.

I also recommend Ian Bogost’s post “Gamification is Bullshit” which brings attention to the dangers in this “gamification movement” as it tends to disregard other important elements of game mechanics and tends to focus on extrinsic motivators and rewards alone.

How can we apply game mechanics to Education? Do you have examples to share?

Isolating eLearning

The term “social” has become quite popular amongst those involved in Web development, marketing, journalism, and many other fields. Education isn’t immune to that trend. “Social media” seems to now have claimed the title of overused term from “Web 2.0.”

However, these technologies that allow sharing of information, more importantly, coordination of efforts and co-authoring of knowledge, do in fact play an important role in society and Education.

Technologies like micro-blogging, wikis, blogs, social bookmarking, and many others are commonplace in any Educational Technology blog these days.

But why is it that corporations and institutions seem to to keep focusing mostly on the mass production of self-contained, self-paced, self-service learning experiences canned in Learning Management Systems (LMS) that only care about reporting page clicks and final scores in formats friendly to our famous Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM)?

Whenever social media is implemented in the workplace or at school, it seems more like an attempt to “do what everyone else is doing so we’re not behind” but everyone struggles to understand the real value of doing it. It’s almost like it social media is secondary to our traditional forms of learning support.

With the current state of eLearning, we are creating isolated and isolating, lonely, mechanical learning experiences and blaming it on “autonomy”, on “self-pacedness…”

The focus needs to be shifted to the value in creating networks of learners to support informal, life-long learning that takes place in “communities of practice” that offer real life learner-to-learner support and empathy. eLearning as it is now, “courses” encapsulated in Flash and HTML, needs to become the secondary learning experience… or at least be just a support knowledge repository, a place learners go to only to start understanding concepts before diving into discussions with their peers in their communities. In the least, we need to allow learners to go build discussions around the existing courses. Experiences similar to what technologies like VoiceThread allow us to.

The issue is, perhaps, that institutions don’t know how to track real learning. They know how to tally number of page clicks and quiz scores, but not life-long, real learning…

Social Media Threat to Education?

CNN Sees Facebook as Major Competitor” says Mashable’s writer Jennifer Van Grove in an article today. Even though it seems reasonable at first “well, people are getting their news first on Facebook”, media giants like CNN should look deeper into social media platforms as OPPORTUNITIES to reach more people with their news. Similar to what Mashable and many others already do, publishing their feed on Twitter, Facebook and many other channels. Readers will most likely read short blurbs from their friends about news of interest on social networks and, if the news are really interesting they will go to major websites to find more details about it. If the news giants already have their feeds going into popular social media channels, people will actually retweet, respost, spread the link, taking readers back to the main news site. CNN seems to miss the point…

And so do many people in charge of K12, Higher Education, eLearning departments at corporations, and other “authorities” in Education: they see social media as a threat instead of an ally in doing what Education is all about, constructing communities of practice, taking knowledge to the masses, letting people construct knowledge, reach out to other learners… Many times when they use social media, they simply clone a popular service inside walled gardens, missing on the wealth of knowledge already out there.

Educators fail to see even major services like Facebook, Youtube and Twitter as learning communities and channels for knowledge creation and distribution perhaps because their policies are based in “old school” (pun intended) paradigms of authoritative learning. “What will happen when we admit Wikipedia can be a legitimate source of knowledge?” “What will happen when we let our learners loose on video sharing sites?” “I don’t even understand microblogging, how can I use it in the classroom/as the classroom?” and other questions are asked by friends of mine in Education all the time. Let’s not forget our roles as “facilitators” in the new media era…

What are questions and answers YOU might have about using social media in Education?

Why don’t we see more of social media applied to learning experiences?

Where have you seen it? Have YOU used social media to facilitate learning?

Watch Le Web Live December 10 2009

About Le Web:

“The real time web is taking the world by storm! Twitter has grown exponentially in one year with an extremely simple service that does only one thing: keep you in touch with what your friends are doing, in real time. Facebook entirely redesigned its most important assets, its home page and opened its feed to third parties. Given the growth of the Twitter and Facebook ecosystems with thousands of applications and new uses, startups as well all major players are adapting their services to compete in this environment. There was the static web, the social web and now here comes a new web: the real-time web.”

Broadcasting Live with Ustream.TV

Learner vs Participant

The term learner bears a sense of a passive individual that is merely a receptacle for Instruction and information. In light of this assumption, one would presume that another word or another view of the “learning as a process” to take place. Most everyone has some to contribute to this process and, aside from situations in which individuals need instruction for imediate information, for more long-term knowledge retention learning needs to be views not only as a process but as a participatory process. Even if an individual will go through “instruction” alone, ideally, the learning process starts then and continues as this individual partakes in conversations, formal and informal situations in which that knowledge is applied, learners new nuances to that information from others, funds new applications for that information as s/he collaborated with other “learners” (please read all you can about Constructivist epistemology and some applied theories such as social learning).
Therfore, if learning is an ongoing participatory process, maybe those in the field of Education should see the learners as “participants” in learning constantly together. Not that this is a call for a different word, bit for the view that consructivists have had for a while and that now social media makes it easier to achieve by creating participatory environments.

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