Some old guys consider their relevance when confronted with the next generation
Social Learning 2.0: A New Teaching Ethos for Universities
Professor Andy Miah, University of the West of Scotland
Around the end of 2011, a few geeks in Sweden set up the Swedish Twitter University, which brought lectures in a series of tweets to a class of, at least, around 500 followers. It may have been the first time that Twitter was used to deliver higher education and with the recent debates about massive open online courses (MOOCs), it seems apt that we reflect on what Twitter might do to transform the classroom and open up a new space for public education?
This week, we put together an experiment that tested these limits, creating a seminar that took place entirely within Twitter, using a bespoke hashtag to bring together all of the content. Running a seminar in Twitter might sound like a relatively simple exercise: ensure students have devices through which to tweet (mostly their own, but if not then a computer or loaner, or share), then position your Visiting Professor – aka Andy Miah – in front of his computer and let rip.
There was a bit of prep time involved too. Emma was in the classroom, doing some pre-reading and preparation with the students, who were all in the same place. They need not have been, but this introduces an interesting debate: is there something to gain by being ‘Alone Together’ as Sherry Turkle would say. While mobile devices can allow us to remove the physical classroom all together, there value may be analogous to going to the cinema or watching television. Both involve watching a movie, but there’s some additional value in the physical, shared experience. In this case, not by design, but more by last minute planning, the students were all together. They also watched a livestream of all tweets, introducing an additional dimension to the experience – literally a silver screen of collective content. The session was pitched as a Q&A based on something Andy had written and over 40 minutes around 110 tweets flew through cyberspace.
Did it work? Was there much gained by this experience? Did the students get anything more – or less – than they would have, if they had just had Andy in the room giving them a talk? This is a difficult question to answer, but it was certainly different and, you could argue that universities need to prepare their students for communication in the ultra fast lane of social media.
This Twitter seminar gave students the rare opportunity to ask questions and post comments to Andy through tweets and receive individual replies. You can read the discussion via storify, here . The method encouraged reciprocity, instinctive thinking and recognised a shift in how education takes place in the 21st century, from a reliance on formal education to a recognition of spaces like social media as important sites for learning. This unique social media event gave the students an opportunity to experience public pedagogy first hand, in addition to developing their own sense of working within the public domain, a crucial skill in a world of 24-hour connectivity.
Spontaneity and immediacy are of course seen as some of the celebrated strengths of social media like twitter. Consider its role for example in alerting the public of information or news about significant events such as natural disasters before it even breaks in the mainstream. Responding in the twitter debate, within seconds, students were receiving replies from Andy and thinking on their feet. But conveying a message in 140 characters is challenging, particularly if one wants to avoid over simplification in complex, critical debate. Do we prepare students well for this? Quick thinking and summarising you views carries potential risk which for many means a fear of ‘tweeting’ and putting critical views in the public domain.
Just this week, the BBC published an article on Twitter users: A guide to the law, which suggests that ordinary social media users need to have a grasp of media law. Through the defamation bill and other laws, it may be clearer to us what we can and can’t say on platforms like twitter. Perhaps clearer social media law will offer both staff and students clarity and confidence in engaging with social media in the classroom. However, this law doesn’t of course address issues of reciprocity, etiquette, or how we make ‘cold’ connections in the networked world.
If the Twitter debate hadn’t been facilitated in a formal capacity, many of the students would not felt it appropriate to contact a Professor (or other ‘esteemed’ twitter user) in the way they did during the debate. We do not know the future of these emerging technologies and so ‘demarcation and rules’ do not seem so fruitful here. Fluidity, flexibility and responsiveness seem like important skills for students to develop as part of their learning. Apart from anything else, it’s a great way to bring some additional life into lectures and encourage students to think about their online presence; something they inevitably will have, but which is usually separate from their learning.
This post accompanies the newly established ‘Social Media News’ email list for academics and university support staff, sharing info about the latest platforms for use by academics in their professional lives. This is more about tools we can use to create or curate content, rather than a list of resources for use in academia. It will update periodically, but please also send me your recommendations to add. If you want to follow on twitter, we are using #socialmediaHE All listed items are recommended by academics for use in their professional lives, thanks to those who’ve provided links and descriptions. Scroll down to see a reverse chronological order, instead of alphabetical list.
Latest update: 28 February, 2013.
Actually, it’s not compulsory to love either, but if you work in HE and want to keep an eye on some of the latest innovations in social media + creative technology, then join this new Social Media News Jiscmail group I just set up.
I’ve created it in the hope that it could become a vehicle for me to learn about new platforms, but also share info about new apps that are out there, which can be used. I’ll collate any list of apps periodically and locate them on a webpage somewhere, so that the knowledge is open and out there. In the mean time, if you’d like to keep one ear to the ground on social media and its use within higher education or research generally, then join the group. Its value will me made by its members, but I’ll send through post from time to time about cool new stuff.
In the last couple of days, @kk and @Dutchphoto have tweeted links to Olympic activism plans for Vancouver 2010.
Responses from their peers have varied, but there seems to be three primary modes of reading the performative act of tweeting. It’s either tweeted treated as advocacy ie. I’ve heard about something and, since I support it, I’m going to share it. Alternatively, it can be seen as a news service to something others may not find easily ie. I’ve heard about something you might not learn about through your own media sources, so I’m going to send it to you all as I think you should be aware of it, regardless of your position. A third option may be the vanity tweet ie. I’ve heard about something and if I share it with you, you’ll think higher of me.
Now, I’m not saying that all tweets are like this. Of course, some tweets are to friends and function rather like instant messaging as a chat device. However, I wonder if all re-tweets might be characterized by these three categories. The challenge, of course, is that readers cannot know for sure which act is being undertaken. So, when we tweet, perhaps twitter need to permit users to categorize the tweet as one of the three (or more).
Today, the headlines about Google in China prompt me to post something about Ai Weiwei out of respect for his troubles. He has been all over the BBC today, talking about being censored online in China.
In Beijing during 2008, I attended an event with Ai Weiwei and Norman Foster, which was about the new Beijing airport terminal Foster had built in time for the Games. Back then, Ai Weiwei had recently withdrawn from his role in the Opening ceremony of the Beijing Games out of concerns about human rights infringements taking place in China. He was accompanied by Steven Spielberg, who was confronted with protests over China’s relationship with Darfur, led by Mia Farrow.
Ai Weiwei is an artist activist, who has been in the limelight for China digital censorship issues for years. The Guardian has a nice editorial on his life.
So, to my thoughts on Google in China. As @CharlieBeckett put it on BBC today ‘Google isn’t a charity’. If China don’t enable Google to generate revenue, then it’s not a political act that it withdraws, but a financial decision.
Of course, what makes this newsworthy is not really the financial aspects of the story though, but the realization that global culture has not yet arrived. It has taken the foremost digital organization to prove this, but regardless of how you feel about the limitations of the Great Chinese Firewall, we may do well just to sit and reflect on that for a moment.
Finally, here’s a shot of Ai Weiwei taking pictures during the panel debate in Beijing reminds me of his playfulness.
and for poetic value, a shot of the photo book created for the airport terminal. It’s called ‘Becoming’ and consists of Ai Weiwei’s photography of the new terminal.
Talk today at University of Leicester for Social Media: uses and abuses
here’s what I said, more or less.
By Professor Andy Miah, PhD
The rhetoric of social media appeals to notion of collaboration, sharing and democratized participation. Web 2.0, open source, and syndication are all exemplary concepts of new methods of exchanging content and platform development. Moreover, their collaborative architecture extends from developers to end users. Yet, the environment of web development and the symbolic capital that accompanies the use of the Internet remains a highly competitive and monetized form. These circumstances compel us to scrutinize the rhetoric of social media and to reveal the complex financial and experiential sociologies that underpin its trajectory. In short, to fully attend to the emancipating and subversive potential of social media, we must address ways in which processes of exclusion remain intact, despite the opening up of technology. This paper addresses such matters and investigates how the culture of participatory media can be both enabling and disabling of social collaboration.
In the early days, the Internet was rubbish.
There were no pictures
We had to write everything in code.
We didn’t really talk to anyone.
Thankfully, we had games consoles.
First there was pong, then space invaders
Followed by all kinds of other stuff like pit fall, frogger, and manic miner
(which, in retrospect might be seen as a prescient of the decline of industrializtion – the miner strikes happened a year later – but don’t quote me on that)
There were also incredibly complex adventure games, which required us to open doors and so on, like this one.
(just in case you’ve no idea what I’m talking about, you can Bing any of this #ungoogle)
By the way, one of the things I really like about twitter is its revival of @.
Remember how everyone used this in everything to signal anything online?
These games were social
Computing was social.
We played games together
We even played them outside, in the world with others
Then Games became anti-social
We were told that they made us violent
So, we created new worlds through the Internet
First, email (suddenly everything was @ this and @ that)
Then chat rooms
We made Utopias through Sims, Second Life, World of Warcraft
Gaming and Internet came together
Games were social again, but in a different kind of way.
The notion of sociability had changed.
It meant something else now.
At the same time, we were now mobile.
In the early days, mobile was rubbish.
First, there were problems of size
Then problems of signal
After this, we have the damn contracts
(we were even charged loads for very little eg. sms)
But then it got better.
Things got small, more functional
And then they became more sociable
The companies began to realize they can’t charge us for voice
So, some gave us 3 network allowing skype to skype calls
While others gave us other ‘freebies’, some of which were bad, others good.
Lots of stuff will now be free.
We could then integrate platforms
Mobiles could do more stuff
Like use twitter
Or play twitter games, like vampire.
We could even use very small apps for very big things eg. Twitter for Iran Democracy
so this is what happened
but there is a dark side to this period
and that’s really what I want to talk about
so let’s look at some examples
First Facebook – Friending and unfriending
Are you Interested 2.7m users (1.5% of current user base)
Second Life Paedophilia playground (2007)
Top-Down use, rather than bottom-up
Flickr and 10 downing st
This week…. Habitat tweets Iran
Others are more subtle……
Dopplr – tells me how bad I’ve been
Worst (and best) of all my Wikipedia entry
(I’m a big fan of Wikipedia)
but my entry really pisses me off
So what went wrong?
Well, nothing of course.
It has always been at least as bad as it has been good.
Anti-social activity has always been part of computing culture
Spam, Viruses – even when my computer crashes, I sometimes think it’s just trying to get at me.
And for those who know me – as I expect most of you here – I champion the good way over the bad – though learn a great deal from the bad
But if we want to understand how to promote more good than bad, then we need to understand that concept better – what is social media?
Convergence just doesn’t cut it.
Technological enhancement doesn’t do the job either.
Something more profound is taking place.
“social media is a product of various trajectories across computing, gaming, mobile and online development, but most importantly our socialization into these cultures
If we fail to socialize, we will struggle to get social media”
Talk tomorrow in Leicester for Social Media: Uses and Abuses
will mention the ZX Spectrum, Flickr, Dopplr, Facebook, Twitter, Google, Bing, iPhone, Second Life, The Sims, World of Warcraft, and much, much more.
Have you experienced anti-socia behaviour in social media environments?
James Carse – game theorist at NYU – ‘finite and infinite games’
Sutton-smith – the ambiguity of play
- seven rhetorics of play
o play as freedom
o play as development
o play as imagination and creativity (arts, media, science)
o play as power and contest
o play as group identity
o fate and chaos
o play as laughter, subversion
prodigy90_med – advert on gaming – sport related narrative
relationship between ethics and gaming
aint misbehaving: play in organisations, matt statler et al, imagilab, 2002
AI in Games
- ai = adding behaviour or character
- not officially AI
- e.g. Guard State Machine
o player, guard, player doesn’t want to be seen by guard.
o Basic programming is using a ‘state machine’, not really AI, but creates illusion of AI.
o If we make a noise, guard will ‘hear’ and investigate
Natural problem solving systes
- brains, evol,
- immune syst
o – artif neural networks
o genetic algorithms (and evolstrategies)
o artif immune sytems
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