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Thursday, May 08, 2008

Introducing students to social bookmarking

del.icio.us logo All of the best teaching ideas are stolen, with a twist of originality. This post is the first of a series in which I am starting the detailed planning for the roll out of our personal learning environment (PLE) strategy for students in September 2008. I'm hoping that crowdsourcing these resources will result in a better students experience and may be useful to others considering similar plans, so your comments are most welcome.

Objective:
To embed an immersive pattern of social bookmarking which the majority of students will continue beyond the assessment period.

Implementation:
Students will receive an introduction to social bookmarking via the VLE incorporating information about and links to a range of bookmarking sites.

Assessment:
1. Students will be required to open an account on del.icio.us in their UoL username and to post at least three (two?) items related to their course per week. In week 10 we will assess whether they have completed the task and award marks or otherwise via the VLE gradebook. (Students will be advised that that can have multiple del.icio.us accounts if they wish for professional and social use).

2. Students will be advised to tag bookmarks with the relevant UoL module codes (BS1005, MB1004, etc) so that they can identify each other. They will also be required to demonstrate (how?) that they have added at least n members of the course to their del.icio.us network. (n=10? Use del.icio.us RSS feeds? Incorporate search functions and resource discovery?)

Allocation of marks?

What could go wrong? Answers on a postcard below please.


6 comments:

  1. I think we need to watch the workload on these tasks, as each one will add another element sequentially until at the end we could be asking them to do a lot for very little credit. I know it only takes a minute or two, but I am wary of the cumulative effect.

    can we try and point out the network aspects more which will also share the workload?

    Do we want try to move them away from having 30 wikipedia pages bookmarked?

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  2. > I think we need to watch the workload on these tasks

    Yes, very true, particularly in regard to the credit allocation of the module. However, what we need to achieve is a recursive, immersive experience with will build habits - they need to walk the walk.

    > Can we try and point out the network aspects more which will also share the workload?

    Yes, I'm hoping someone will tell me how to do that ;-)

    > Do we want try to move them away from having 30 wikipedia pages bookmarked?

    Umm... Surely student's don't use Wikipedia? ;-)

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  3. Honestly, I do know how to use the apostrophe - my finger slipped! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  4. "1. Students will be required to open an account on del.icio.us"

    Why delicious? for the network possibilites? why not eg magnolia. which allows groups?


    "in their UoL username"

    security/privacy issues, especially in a networked envt (eg if i can associate uol username with a web persona or real name in the wild, it breaks down a chinese wall i may be trying to maintain between personal and UoL lives?


    "and to post at least three (two?) items related to their course per week."

    How will these links be republished/syndicated, used, rated/evaluated etc etc?


    "In week 10 we will assess whether they have completed the task and award marks or otherwise via the VLE gradebook."

    Something I have wondered about is whether there is a way of using a voting bookmarking platform (eg pligg cf http://foundit.open.ac.uk) to get students to rate each others discovered resources - this could be assessable too (you MUST vote on 3-5 resources submitted by other people). To promote diversity, you could also require each student to be the first person in the cohort to bookmark at least one resource... so eg i don't just subscribe to a good students feed and copy all their bookmarks...

    (This is a bit like a (complex?!) word game where everyone must think of an animal beginning with the letter c, and they get for cohort size N, (N-X) points for a correct answer, where X is the number of other people who have given the same answer)


    "(Students will be advised that that can have multiple del.icio.us accounts if they wish for professional and social use)."

    See above - you're potentially providing a touchpoint between a UoL username and a students other web personas? e.g. if they add their name to their UoL delicious a/c.

    Also, (with my black thinking hat on!;-) what happens if someone has alrady bagged the delicious username corresponding to a UoL username?

    An alternative would be to allow ANY username and then a UoL username tag; this way you could grab a user/tag feed rather than just a user feed. (Note this approach allows for a combination of personal and UoL activity, which is counter to the separation of personas/identities hinted at above).


    "2. Students will be advised to tag bookmarks with the relevant UoL module codes (BS1005, MB1004, etc) so that they can identify each other."

    I have started looking at delcious for Ou course codes - eg http://del.icio.us/tag/tu120
    you may also want to add a uol tag, to filter on eg http://del.icio.us/tag/tu120+ou (requiring tags tu120 AND ou), or a localised tag eg uol_bs1005


    "They will also be required to demonstrate (how?) that they have added at least n members of the course to their del.icio.us network."

    You could automate the lookup of this probably?


    "(n=10? Use del.icio.us RSS feeds? Incorporate search functions and resource discovery?)"

    How do you mean "incorporate search functions and resource discovery?"

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  5. Unpacking a little, I guess the things you can explore with social bookmarking are:

    1) ability to find, tag and describe/short summarise resources;

    2) ability to rate/identify RELEVANT, high quality resources for a particular task.

    3) ability to use a social network to aid your own discovery process (follow/copy other peoples' bookmarks)

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  6. Great input Tony, just the sort of interaction I was hoping crowdsourcing would provide in the planning (sorry, "learning design" :-) phase.

    > Why delicious? for the network possibilites? why not eg magnolia which allows groups?

    On balance, we have found the del.icio.us interface to be the simplest and easiest to absorb for newbies. One of the main things I'm worried about is blowing students away with too many choices of technology, so for each type of site, we're planning to discuss and illustrate one site in some detail and then in small print, say something like "other social bookmarking sites are available".

    >> "in their UoL username"
    >
    > security/privacy issues, especially in a networked envt (eg if I can
    > associate uol username with a web persona or real name in the wild, it
    > breaks down a chinese wall I may be trying to maintain between personal and
    > UoL lives?

    A good point. However, we have taken the decision that we will assess these exercises as we know many students simply will not do them if we don't (maybe there's a different there between OU students and other HE students?), so we need a way to track them. I know from experience that the more complicated this mechanism is, the more headaches it causes. We will advise students that they can have multiple del.icio.us accounts (e.g. social/professional), and continue to use their existing del.icio.us account (if they have one) for private purposes.

    >> "and to post at least three (two?) items related to their course per week."
    >
    > How will these links be republished/syndicated, used, rated/evaluated etc
    > etc?

    Because we know their del.icio.us account names, we can follow the RSS feeds - important when we're dealing with nearly 200 students.

    >> "In week 10 we will assess whether they have completed the task and award
    > marks or otherwise via the VLE gradebook."
    >>
    > Something I have wondered about is whether there is a way of using a voting
    > bookmarking platform (eg pligg cf http://foundit.open.ac.uk) to get students
    > to rate each others discovered resources - this could be assessable too (you
    > MUST vote on 3-5 resources submitted by other people). To promote diversity,
    > you could also require each student to be the first person in the cohort to
    > bookmark at least one resource... so eg i don't just subscribe to a good
    > students feed and copy all their bookmarks...
    > (This is a bit like a (complex?!) word game where everyone must think of an
    > animal beginning with the letter c, and they get for cohort size N, (N-X)
    > points for a correct answer, where X is the number of other people who have
    > given the same answer)

    Now that's an idea I really like. I would love to use voting and a game element in some context, maybe this is it. One downside is that some students run away from anything they perceive as competitive.


    >> "(Students will be advised that that can have multiple del.icio.us accounts
    >> if they wish for professional and social use)."
    >
    > See above - you're potentially providing a touchpoint between a UoL username
    > and a students other web personas? e.g. if they add their name to their UoL
    > delicious a/c.
    > Also, (with my black thinking hat on!;-) what happens if someone has alrady
    > bagged the delicious username corresponding to a UoL username?

    Yes, that would be a problem. In that case, we would have to assign them a derivative.

    > An alternative would be to allow ANY username and then a UoL username tag;
    > this way you could grab a user/tag feed rather than just a user feed. (Note
    > this approach allows for a combination of personal and UoL activity, which
    > is counter to the separation of personas/identities hinted at above).

    Thanks, I'll keep that one in reserve. In the first instance, I want to roll out the simplest scheme we can, then maybe elaborate in future years when we see how things work.

    > "2. Students will be advised to tag bookmarks with the relevant UoL module
    > codes (BS1005, MB1004, etc) so that they can identify each other."
    >
    > I have started looking at delcious for Ou course codes - eg
    > http://del.icio.us/tag/tu120
    > you may also want to add a uol tag, to filter on eg
    > http://del.icio.us/tag/tu120+ou (requiring tags tu120 AND ou), or a
    > localised tag eg uol_bs1005

    Good catch, we need to do this.

    > "They will also be required to demonstrate (how?) that they have added at
    > least n members of the course to their del.icio.us network."
    >
    > You could automate the lookup of this probably?

    Maybe, but since we're going mark at the end of module 1, it shouldn't be too bad to do manually, i.e. we're not going to be doing this recursively. the point of this is to illustrate to students that del.icio.us is not simply about bookmarking, more about sharing. I'm pretty confident that that will be the hardest point to get across.

    > > "(n=10? Use del.icio.us RSS feeds? Incorporate search functions and resource discovery?)"
    >
    > How do you mean "incorporate search functions and resource discovery?"

    i.e. that it's not just "Favorites" online.

    > Unpacking a little, I guess the things you can explore with social bookmarking are:
    >
    > 1) ability to find, tag and describe/short summarise resources;

    > 2) ability to rate/identify RELEVANT, high quality resources for a particular task.

    > 3) ability to use a social network to aid your own discovery process (follow/copy other peoples' bookmarks)

    I love it when someone expresses what I tried to say better than i was able to :-)

    I wish I'd been able to contribute more to DigitalWorlds, but it's an area I know nothing about, except that games really turn me personally off.

    Stay tuned for the next crowdsourcing post for out PLE project, coming next week, and thanks for the great input.

    ReplyDelete