Social Networking: Why should Participation Inequality matter if we all gain?

What is the point of social networking if people won’t participate? Inequality of participation (i.e. large number of users but only a very small percentage of the users actually contribute) is a common frustration for online forums, blogs, wikis and social networking sites.

I know myself I often think what is the point in contributing in online forums when I am the minority? And most of the others are just lurking. Well I have decided that it does not matter at all! I gain from participating and networking; the more you participate in a positive manner the more people are willing to share with you. Most things I do and learn are the result of networking (blogs, wikis, Skype, Google Talk, podcasts, social networking site). Remember the Wisdom of Crowds – Many are smarter than few so the more you network the greater the gain.

Okay I participate a lot more than others in that I also have a blog, a wiki (sorry my girlfriend Sue reminds me not just one wiki) and a podcast site (so obviously have no life). While it would be nice for people to visit my sites and gain from the information I provide; ultimately I do not care because I gain from providing the information (as it takes time to create and I learn a lot while I do it). It also opens up lots of opportunity for me to networking with others that can that help me. So to me it is all cool; you gain by lurking (I so hate that word – because in reality you are still participating – just not showing a visible presence – what does it really matter as long as you gain) but you gain more if you actively engage and participate in a form that suits you (whether it be a blog, wiki, online forum, podcast site, social networking site).

Thanks Sean for the bookmark in your del.icio.us account on Participation Inequality: Encouraging More Users to Contribute. (Oops sorry if you were going to blog on it – but this time I was tag drafting you). However it has put it into context for me (and others that I network with). Also gives me food for thought when I use wikis for managing projects and documenting progress of projects.

Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox article Participation Inequality: Encouraging More Users to Contribute (October 9, 2006) he states” User participation often more or less follows a 90-9-1 rule:

  • 90% of users are lurkers (i.e., read or observe, but don’t contribute)
  • 9% of users contribute from time to time, but other priorities dominate their time
  • 1% of users participate a lot and account for most contributions: it can seem as if they don’t have lives because they often post just minutes after whatever event they’re commenting on occurs

After doing a lot more research on this topic I came across Penny Power comments which to me really sums up what is important:

“Knowing who you can learn from is what matters and what social networks should be about”

Final (sad) point for the day:

ZUDE – I been Zude – given something new – enjoyed the experience -waited excitedly for the site to be open to the public today only to discover – well read the screen shot below from their site.

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I’ve been Zude!!!!

I first heard about Zude on April 18 when Lynne Gibb posted in the EDNA 2007 E-learning Networks Community Forum if anyone had heard of Zude and if so what do you think? So I followed the link read the article and watch the video; got very excited and then discovered it was not available yet.

So not to be deterred I put my name down to be notified when it became available. Over the weekend I received an email letting me know that I could test out Zude prior to their public release tomorrow. Yippy – for once I get to try something that is not two years old!

So after a few initial teething problems – like it does not run yet in Firefox (oops should have read the fine print). They expect to have this feature ready for the launch. But that is okay back to Internet Explorer I go!

So what is Zude according to Zude?

Well according to them it blurs the line between your personal desktop and the web . They say its unique feature is its widespread integration of drag and drop technology.

What did Zude seem like to me?
To me Zude was like my Google Homepage but much more! I could add pictures, widgets (or gadgets), links to my websites and probably a lot more. My Zude site will I assume be open to the public once it has been launched so visited can link to all my sites easily from the one site. Check out my screen shot of my Zude site (This is the link for my site but you will not be able to access it for another 17 hours).

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I have to admit I struggled initially to work out how to use Zude, and not all the features are fully functional yet. Little things unsettled me at first; like seeing my personal details (like age displayed) – while this is a feature that obviously the young probably like – and while I do not have an issue with my age – it did freak me out. I spent quite a bit of time jumping around the site trying to work out how to remove it from public display (amazing right click and delete object!).

While Zude does have instructional “how to” videos I found they loaded way too slow. Definitely recommend instead you use Help (Tools>Help). Oops sorry got distracted discovered that you can easily embed a media player into your page (how cool and I am now listening to Evanescence! – sorry shared Google reader and Delicious feed the music video won – although the stop start streaming is starting to annoy me).

I think the drop and drag feature is still being worked on. But you can also use the menu at the top or right click on the page. The “how to insert” widgets and gadgets section of the help menu is not finished however if you right click and select an object it will bring up a window I then clicked on google gadgets. Located the gadget I wanted and copied/pasted the code onto the page. I had more success with Google Gadgets than Widgebox (but only tried a couple). And just like my Google Homepage if you do not like a widget/gadget you just press the x to delete.

And it was so easy to add buttons to link to my websites just copied/pasted onto the page and it then asked me if I wanted to add as link, button or embed within page. This means I can actually embed each of my websites in separate pages at Zude.

I also found at the moment I could not drop and drag images from my computer but you can overcome this by right clicking > Files and then uploading them through file manager. Very easy to install them on the page and move them around.

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The only thing you must remember is to press SAVE when you add objects to your page! Or all that time spent and they will be gone!

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So my thoughts so far are it is looking good – will definitely appeal to the widget lovers – I probably need a teenager to show me how to get a lot more out of Zude! I will be waiting for tomorrow to see if you will actually able to see my Zude site !

Ultimate cure for Internet Addiction: Collapse of the Internet!

apc.pngKids swimming lessons meant it was time for me to catch up on reading another computer magazine. This time I choose APC magazine (Australia’s IT and Internet news magazine). A good magazine but Smartphones and Pocket PC magazine really rocks! Put my girlfriend, Harriet, onto Smartphones and Pocket PC magazine and she was very impressed; enjoyed reading it, was able to understand all the articles and said “made me look like a geek (when I am not)”. Thanks Frances for guiding us to read computer magazines; we really did think that we would not be able to understand the articles they write.internet-collapse.jpg

Back to APC magazine – this month’s issue (May, 2007) article that grabbed my attention was “Internet on the brink of collapse”. Mmmm had heard whispers of this; so I thought that if it is written in a magazine it is something I should really investigate because perhaps it could happen. Obviously if it happens, my husband would be happy it cured my Internet addiction, although he did take a big gamble writing this post.

So much of our modern society is now based on use of the Internet (e.g. banking, shopping, communication) that major disruption to service would have a considerable impact on our lifestyle. Remember those days when you actually had to go to the bank and take out money from over the counter so you had enough money to last the weekend because the bank was closed (well if you are a lot younger than me – probably not!).

So I did some research on the facts about the Internet is on the brink of collapse:

  1. Predicting the Internet is going to collapse is not new – There was a prediction of Internet’s catastrophic collapse in 1996. BBC news in 2002 stated Risk to Internet collapse rising due to natural disaster or terrorist attack. Intel in 2004 predicted the Internet was on the brink of collapse because of a tenfold increase in usage in the last decade means the Web is struggling to cope.
  2. APC magazine article is based on Deloitte & Touche’s Technology Predictions for 2007 which was written Dec 29, 2006. Deloitte & Touche’s predictions are based on: the number of Internet users continuing to grow; the exponential increase in transmission of video delivered over the Internet; and the terabit-cable pipes connecting continents will reach capacity and ISPs will not be prepared to pay for extra bandwidth because consumers will be unwilling to pay increased costs.
  3. During the Internet stock boom (late 1990-early 2000) there was a massive over investment in fiber optic companies which resulted in massive quantities of cables on land and in the ocean.
  4. According to Juniper Networks, YouTube already generates traffic equal to the entire internet-load in 2000.

MMmmm after doing considerable research…..my brain is worn out. APC magazine suggests that their research indicates “there is a need to increase existing connections or invest in more efficient transmission technology because like real traffic, internet traffic expands to fill the spaces available. More roads get clogged with more cars.” Whereas Computerworld says Video won’t crash the Internet as there is enough fibre in the ground to cope.

I suppose like any prediction we will just have to wait and see!

My expanded version of tag drafting

Oops, Sean O’Driscoll had planned to blog about the article by the Economist that discusses the increase in networking and decline in visits to sex sites and suggests that I am tag drafting his del.icio.us account. Well I wasn’t, but I am now, instead I was drafting his blog.

For my presentation for Learnscope e-learning project planning day I expanded on Sean O’Driscoll idea of effective tag drafting.

Sean’s explanation of tag drafting relates back to the concept used in competitive cyclingmotorracing.jpg and motor racing where you get in behind the leader and use their slipstream to significantly reduce the average energy expenditure required to maintain a certain speed. He mainly uses the term to refer to how you monitor the websites a person (who you know is a really good tagger and tags on topics you care about) bookmarks in del.icio.us. By doing this you reduce the energy and time spent searching for the information because the leader is doing most of the work and you are just travelling in their slipstream.

My expanded version relates to locating the leader’s in the topics that you are interested in and monitoring their sites (e.g. blogs, wikis, podcasts, flickr, del.icio.us). Benefits include:

  1. The noise (the fact that they are all starting to discussing a particular topic) that starts spreading out from experience e-learning people’s blogs tells you if something is worth checking out
  2. Using their bookmarks in del.icio.us reduces your time locating the articles
  3. Help keep your knowledge current
  4. Provides opportunities for you to networking with them to exchange thoughts and ideas – the more people you network with the greater the gain for all involved

My expanded version relates to effective use of RSS feeds (maybe RSS drafting would be a better term); by using feeds properly the information comes directly to you and there is no need to continuously revisit each website to obtain the updated information. I do this by identifying the individuals who I wish to draft (i.e. follow in their slipstream) and then subscribe to their feeds using Google Reader which feeds onto my personalised Google Homepage (along with news feeds). If you are not sure of who to add I suggest you have a look at some of the articles in my shared items Google Reader in my side menu as you might identify people you would like to draft. For more information on how I RSS draft check out manage your World online.

Final chuckle – Sean commented in his interview for SolShare that knowing others are checking out what you are bookmarking in del.icio.us can put pressure on you to only bookmark really good articles. My girlfriend Evil Sue, put me onto extisp.icio.us which is cool software for giving you an image of what a person is bookmarking in del.icio.us. I use the extisp.icio.us text. It is amazing what you learn about a person from their bookmarks (Sean – you obviously like BBQing).

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Networking is on the way up and sex going down!

Mmmm most people when their friend comes over to visit gets to ….???? Not sure anytv.jpg more. I know one of my other friends had a friend up for the weekend and they went shopping. Sounds nice? My friend, Evil Sue, comes over, brings her PC (not Laptop) and settles into my work space for a night of …..? (watching TV shows on her computer with her headset on). Now I may be into technology but there is no way I would visit a friend with my computer (I love it too much) although she is telling me she does this all the time because she is a gamer!!

Oh well – this is a good opportunity to catch up on some reading!trends.gif

So back I go to read through more of Sean O’Driscoll’s Community Group Therapy and follow the excellent links he provided. Which was good because I now know that sex is on the decline (the line labeled Adult on this graph reflects visits to online pornography sites) . But look at social networking – and how rapidly it is rising.

From this link I went to hitwise and grabbed some more great Internet statistics which provides a great picture of current trends (the table is at the bottom of this post). Which makes you reflect while reading Web 2.0 Takes On Colleges And Universities: The Dawn Of Education 2.0 (Gabriela I have sent this link to you through del.icio.us check out your link for you box – thought I would save you some time). What a thought provoking article! There is way too much great information to do it justice to discuss it properly here however here are some points that engaged me:

  1. Generations weaned on television may have been happy to sit back and passively consume information fed to them from above, but those days are over
  2. The social networking site of choice for most students is Facebook.com, which describes itself as a social utility that helps people better understand the world around them.
  3. Net Generation students arrive at their universities as experienced multitaskers, accustomed to using text messaging, telephones, and e-mail while searching the Internet and watching television. They are ready for multimedia learning to be delivered on a flexible learning schedule, one that is not tied to a set time and place.
  4. The new generation of learners:
  • Can network with contacts through sites like MySpace, broadcast their presence to the world with Twitter, and create and remix media with YouTube and Jumpcut, it’s unlikely that they are going to be content to sit through a three-hour lecture delivered in the one-way, top-down tradition of old modalities.
  • Demand to be engaged, active and part of a collaborative knowledge building community.

While I was reading through the rest of the links Sean supplied I came across the social software honeycomb digram which is discussed in detail at Social Software Building Blocks.

To finish off the night I watched Sean’s interview about Community by Jonny Chambers for Solshare.net. Considering it is 11.41 pm, and I am listening to this interview, and Evil Sue is having fun gaming, I consider this true dedication but I was very keen to listen to Sean’s talking about tag-drafting. Actually it was absolute dedication because it is a video podcast which is 40 minutes long, that I had to first download through Windows Media Player before I could even watch (mmmm….. sorry Sean I liked listening to your video but…..being an (ok) podcaster…mmm… I would personally break it into chunks…).

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And the winners are……”Good and Evil Sue”

Leonard Low decided to celebrate the first anniversary of his mobile learning blog by having The “Mobile Learning” Gadget Giveaway (the prize was an mp3/WMA player/recorder). I decided we had to enter because Leonard had supported and promoted my podcast site on his blog so it was time to repay the favour. Evil Sue agreed to help me out because “It is not about the contest, it is about winning.”

And the news is….the winners are….“Good and Evil Sue” (and a few others including our mate Frances).

Here are the wonderful things Leonard said:trophy.gif

“Good” and “Evil” Sue at the “Mobile Technology in TAFE” created a podcast about the competition for their entry, which, as always, is fantastic!!! The result is a podcast called “What we learnt while preparing for a podcast for… the Mobile Learning Gadget Giveaway!” The Two Sues look at how you can put notes on your iPod, (even a website), and also talk about their experiences of taking the Mobile Learning blog into various mobile formats. Thank you ladies, for such a wonderful exploration of the blog… which is brilliant: I even learned quite a few things myself… WOW. And thanks for the Happy Birthday shoutout! 🙂

Here is Frances comment on her thoughts on our podcast for the competition: “I just watched the podcast that you and “Evil Sue” did for the competition . It was fabulous, one of your best I think. Everything worked so well, sound and images.”

Thanks Frances and congratulations on your win!

Evil Sue and I are very pleased that we won. This podcast took considerable time for me to create (and very little on the part of Evil Sue) and we are glad that people have enjoyed watching it plus gained knowledge. We have decided to pass our prize onto my kids, as they are very patient when their mother is working too much on the computer!

The joys of housework!

The amazing aspect of tidying up is it actually creates more work because you see more dust which eventually plays on your mind until you do something about it! So I fix up the appearance of my blog (which is now 2 weeks old!) because I could not have my friend’s blogs look nicer. MMMmmm while I would like to improve the appearance of my wiki, my podcast site is in urgent need of a makeover!

First lets start with some reflections on about my podcast site. I uploaded my first podcast on August 27, 2006 and since then I have uploaded 58 episodes ranging in content on information on m-learning to e-learning and “how to”. I started out creating audio podcasts and then expanded to include video podcasts (why because some messages have more impact as videos). My podcast site has provided me with the opportunity to interview lots of people and gain a great deal of knowledge that I can then transfer into my own practises. People within Australia and around the World have be introduced to the work I am involved in which has expanded my ability to network with others and gain from their knowledge plus experience; in return I give back to others. If the statistics of my podcast site is to be believed; it is my most popular website (feed views about 1500 and downloads approximately 1000 per week).

So if my podcast site is the most popular the question asked would be “why haven’t I improved it’s looks before now!” The answer is simple, my podcast site is the most unstable platform. Updates in technology affect how my podcasts work. Like one step forward and six steps back. Older audio chipmunks when once it was fine; old video does not play when once it was fine (note if you experience these problems with my podcasts when you press play then click on download rather than play and it will start playing not a problem. This is only a problem when played on the site; episodes downloaded through iTunes or Juice experience no problems). Reasons for these problems relate to the embedded flash player that is used on podcast sites, and changes to this and how the podcast site converts audio and video as it is uploaded then impacts on existing podcasts (my podcast host converts all uploads into a format which is better supported by the flash player; however old episodes are not converted so then have problems).

I decided to just get on with it and see what happened. Well, as I fixed up the text, images and links in the posts for my podcast episodes, it is also then converted the associated media to a format that works in the flash player. Great now some of the old issues are actually playing in the flash player. Problem is I have so many posts to fix up that it is going to take time because the formats are being converted. So it looks like this housework will need to be spread out over several days so that I don’t stuff up all my podcasts. This is what my site now looks like!

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The “Ripple Effect”

I was invited to do a presentation for both the m-learning (funded by WADET) and e-learning (WA Learnscope) planning days with the aim of sharing my experiences and knowledge with other project teams.

Ann asked me to do my presentation today on “Managing your World online”; she hoped that if participants picked up just one tip from how I manage my world online this would be great. So I decided to borrow from Sean O’Driscoll’s insight into comparing effective tag drafting to following in the slip stream of a faster bike rider or car when you are racing. However I expanded beyond his del.icio.us model – my suggestion to them was to find people that are good at what they are doing and follow behind (their online tracks) in their slip stream; by doing this you gain from their knowledge and expend less energy (they do the searching and researching; they do the bookmarking; they provide you with the “how to” guide; and the noise created from lots of experience e-learning people’s blogs tells you if something is worth checking out). I encouraged them all to feel free to follow in mine and others slipstream to increase their knowledge and skills.

The other model that I did not have time to discuss is the “Ripple effect” and how following in other people’s slip stream has an outward rippling effect that spreads. That tips a person picks up from you, ripple onto others. For example my girlfriend Sue who has been engaged by podcasting (and went out an bought as ipod as a result), wikis, blogs and flickr as a result of networking with me and who has passed these skills onto her parents. Or Frances, my IT guru, who has now set up a blog and a wiki then tried out Toon Doo and whose daughter went to bed way too late because she was having too much fun creating her own comic using Toon Doo.

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The good news for Ann is for at least one participant at the workshop today this strategy of giving them food for thought on how I manage my online world has worked. Philip Nichols, who himself is excellent, has gone home today – set up his Google Homepage, Google Reader and checked out how we are doing things at Challenger TAFE compared to his TAFE. I look forward to Philip’s feedback on what he likes and doesn’t like. Plus from his site I found some more software I need to check out. Thanks Philip.

I would also like to thank Stephan Ridgway, Coordinator for Learning and Innovation at TAFE NSW, Sydney Institute (the other side of Australia) for being nice enough to participate in my presentation by letting me ring and talk to him using Skype. Thanks Stephan for all the great advice you gave the project managers on how to make their Learnscope projects succeed. And yet again I owe you.

Final chuckle for the day. Philip was nice enough to point out to me at the end of my presentation that in bike riding the person at the front often gets knocked over or losses. My comment – more than happy for those that follow behind me to overtake, and I encourage everyone to actively participate in social networking as it increases knowledge gain and reduces energy expenditure. Remember I am following behind in the slipstream of others!

Use of peer coaching in e-learning professional development

Yesterday was m-learning, today was Learnscope e-learning Project Planning day.

Thank goodness for the Internet access on my PDA that meant I could multi-task i.e. listen to the presentations and participate in the activities while I researched more about the use of peer coaching (all Becky Saunders fault however that was the desired outcome). I suppose at this point in time it is interesting to reflect that my technology life style has made me very proficient at multitasking.

Carole McCulloch (who is an e-learning coach and mentor) from the other side of Australia, was nice enough to provide her feedback on the use of peer coaching in e-learning professional development. Here is what Coach Carole told me about how they do professional Development in Victoria:

“Victorian teams use a peer coaching/mentoring model. Eleaders are provided with a time allowance to provide support for teachers in their departments in understanding, mastering and implementing elearning strategies. They usually have at least one LearnScope or Elearning project to lead during the year and they provide coaching for their teams as well as project management. The success of this coaching/mentoring framework lies in the close collaboration between coaches and peers and their on-the-ground support on an ongoing basis.

In our VIC model the coaches are knowledgeable in elearning and coach their peers in their own goals – usually prescribed by their project outcomes – ones they’ve written themselves. Coaching may be side-by-side or virtual and would consist of pre-arranged events to enhance the learning of the peer. e.g. a coach may provide guidance and feedback on the learning taking place for a set number of peers and may provide more personal mentoring for a smaller number”.

Carole was also nice enough to give me the link to her Victorian E-Learning leaders wiki which she is currently setting up and her new blog. Thanks Carole I look forward to watching and learning from the techniques you use in your State; and plan to have a closer look at both sites tomorrow.Becky Saunders also repeated her great presentation from yesterday so I grabbed the opportunity to record and podcast it from my podcast site (Sorry have not included the full presentation because it was too long but did include the most important aspects of it). She was also nice enough to add the Rogers’ Innovation Adoption Curve into her presentation. I had read about Rogers Innovativeness Theory in Networks, Connections and Community: Learning with Social Software prepared by Val Evans in collaboration with Larraine J Larri with input from Susan Stolz for the Australian Flexible Learning Framework. Thanks Val, Larraine and Susan for writing such a fantastic document; it contains lots of great information.

The reason why I wanted Becky to add Rogers Innovativeness Theory was because I felt it helped people understand that ” trying to quickly convince the mass of a new controversial idea is useless. It makes more sense to start with convincing innovators and early adopters”.

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Delivering effective PD to increase SUSTAINABLE m-learning & e-learning uptake by staff

My brain definitely feels overloaded today – give me technology any day!

Today was the Project Planning Day for all teams that were approved funding from WADET for Embedding m-learning projects. The funds are to be used for professional development to enable teams to gain the skills to embed the technology with their students. Ann Odgers (WA Learnscope Manager) organized an excellent day of activities, to give us food for thought as we commence the planning stage of our projects.

All the presenters were excellent but Becky Saunders (Teaching and Learningbecky.jpg Directorate, WADET) presentation on Embedding PD gave me the most to think about because this year I will be working part time facilitating staff PD on e-learning and m-learning. Effective PD to ensure sustainable uptake of these technology by staff is an issue faced everywhere. Her presentation highlighted the fact that there are so many aspects involved in providing effective PD to staff; and while I have reasonable technology and facilitation skills I have a lot more to learn about making the PD effective to ensure sustainable uptake by staff.

Interesting facts that Becky covered included:

  1. Professional development is about change management. A small change to be implemented in an organisation can take 3 – 5 years; a big change 5-10 years (e.g. reflect on the fact that there are still pockets within our organizations resistant to AQTF)
  2. Impact of peer coaching on uptake of skill in the classroom (Joyce and Showers, 2002)

Joyce and Showers (2002) studied four types of professional development to determine the effectiveness of each on concept understanding, skill attainment, and then the teacher actually applying what was learnt in the PD in applications in the classroom. The results of their study are summarised in this table:
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In simple terms traditional PD that involves a presentation of theory will only increase in the classroom by 5-10%. PD that involves practising (titled in the table Practise and Low Risk Feedback) what they have learnt will increase uptake by 10-15%. If peer coaching is added to the practising uptake in the classrooms will be 80-90%.

Research has shown that workshops don’t provide sufficient time, activities, or content necessary to promote meaningful change. Joyce and Showers found that when teachers combined participating in typical workshops with peer coaching for sharing and observation, 88 % of teachers were using new strategies in their classrooms effectively. Studies have shown that that peer coaching and study groups which provide opportunities for on doing discussion and reflection “may have more influence on changing teaching practices” than other professional development strategies.

Great information Becky, however I now need to do a bit of research, because their use of the term peer coaching is confusing me. I have done a few workshops on coaching and mentoring; at this point in time I am a bit confused by “peer coaching” to me it implies more “peer mentoring” rather than the traditional model of coaching. At least I know that I am not alone in the confusion of mentoring and coaching. I will definitely need to learn a lot more about both mentoring and coaching if I hope to increase the sustainable uptake of m-learning and e-learning.

I strongly recommend you also listen to Becky’s “Technology and use with students