Generation Z and the social media revolution. What are our digital natives doing online?

June 1, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Digital Era, Social Computing 

The impact of social media on the students we teach in our secondary and further education establishments is undoubtedly significant. I have spent a little time this week during the half term break thinking about and researching the online behaviours of Generation Z and the role that these digital natives are playing in shaping social media. CBS have put together a useful inforgraphic video which highlights some key trends in social media use by Generation Z and it is well worth taking a few minutes to look at it.

If you have not seen my previous entries on digital natives it may be worth having a look at ‘How do we meet a challenge like my nephew? Digital Natives coming to a school near you.

Understanding the origins of learning language. Awesome TED talk and MIT research.

March 31, 2011 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Social Computing 

How do we learn a language from birth? This is something I confess I have never thought about in depth but with a 4 month old baby it is something I will soon be actively involved in supporting. This simply awesome talk from Deb Roy is well worth 20 minutes of anyone’s time as it takes you through the work MIT have been doing to understand the development of language in children. The model then builds to show the ways in which data can be analysed to show the impact of social networks on society.

Student views of the iPad2 and tablet revolution. Do we really just need a Dell Inspirion Duo?

March 3, 2011 by · 9 Comments
Filed under: Netbooks, Social Computing 

As many of you will know yesterday was the launch of the latest Apple ‘must-have’ device-  iPad2. During a lesson I was teaching a student started a conversation which surprised me a little. Seeing I had an iPhone as I checked the time one student asked if I was planning to but the iPad2. After suggesting that I would probably end up buying one as I have a technology addiction I was surprised by their response. When I asked if they would like to buy one the quickly responded that ‘The iPad is surely the most pointless device I have ever seen’.

Thinking this might be a faiRly isolated response I asked the whole class what their views were on the ipad and tablets in general. To my surprise 18 out of 21 didnt want a tablet device of any form. The main reason for rejecting the tablet revolution? 16 of the students wanted a real keyboard. I then showed them a device which is a tablet/netbook hybrid- The Dell Inspiron Duo which can be seen below.

The response when I showed this video? One student summed it up when they said, ‘The iPad is much cooler but give me the Dell any day for studying and surfing the net.’

Texting, music, apps and social connectedness. Thoughts on teens and Social Media Revolution.

October 18, 2010 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Digital Era, Social Computing 

Over the weekend I have been dipping into various online feeds and giving some thought to where we are going within education, e-learning and the digital environment generally. If you want to check out the posts I have been writing you can find them here:

1. Cool websites for education- YT Time Machien. History research tool?

2. The Educational landscape of the 21st Century. Moving towards a new paradign in learning.

3. The origins of digital natives and e-learning. Internet arrives in 1993.

I have also been reflecting on various sources of information coming into my twitter feed. Some thoughts started to come together about the  teenagers we teach, their digital consumption and use and their social interaction. The first thing that struck me was a tweet from @ruskin147 on the use of texts by teens:

The article is here and the headline speaks for itself. Teachers of teens will know how important a part of their life texting is but a figure of 3,339 for 13-17 year olds with girls on average texting over 4,000 times is staggering. What surprises me more is the rising trend when this age group who are self confessed as living on Facebook. It appears that this move over the last 3 years has not dulled their appetite for text messaging with an 8% increase year on year.

At the same time I was struck by the video below, however contrived the setup may have been, which continues to show the importance of music within teen culture. This when combined with the growth of smart phones and the rise of apps and data usage (up from 14mb to 62mb per month amongst 13-17 year olds) shows how much of a digital society they are increasingly living in.

At the same time as all this interaction, immersion and interconnectedness one study which was highlighted in the Boston Globe shows a significant decline in empathetic skills amongst teenagers. Whilst these digital natives may be growing a vast social network and are increasingly willing to volunteer it is possible that their ability to care for others is declining. Could it be that our online worlds are leading to a decline in real and genuine relationship skills amongst our teenage generation? As an anecdote, when I first started teaching almost every teenager was on MSN messenger in the UK. I remember the first time I asked a teenager why she liked spending so much time chatting online instead of in person she said ‘it allows me to be more blunt and honest with my friends and tell them what I really feel’. I am sure this is the case for many teenagers and the preference for texting where emotion is so hard to convey over voice calls can surely only lead to less empathetic teenagers?

Features of a SharePoint 2010 Learning Platform- Tagging and Rating

Having looked at MIS and VLE integration it is time to move on to one of the more powerful and often underused features of a Learning Platform- tagging and rating.  This feature has made significant steps forward from SharePoint 2007 and in SharePoint 2010 it has genuine potential to support the learning process through reflection and review.

Tagging and Rating

In many ways the arrival of SharePoint 2010 has led to the liberation for end users who are now active participants. This is immediately obvious in the ability to rate documents within SharePoint 2010 as can be seen below.

The image shows end user ratings for documents and files on a 1-5 star system. Although it is a simple system it has the potential to be profoundly useful for teachers and learners. One of the biggest challenges within SharePoint 2007 for an educator was knowing which resources are proving most useful for support and study. With a simple 1-5 system it is instantly possible to see which resources students are finding most useful. This can allow the ‘bubbling up’ of the best resources to the top so that they can instantly be viewed  when accessing a page. The same system can be applied to a multimedia library as shown below.

Of course a 1-5 star rating has its limitations in terms of the amount of feedback it gives the creator. You could create a document which you thought would be very useful but which gets a low rating- why? This is where tagging comes in. This gives the end user the ability to add additional metadata to a resource which can include an explanation of why the like it. The ‘I like it’ feature is shown both above and below in the top right corner of the ribbon.

Students can then add information about why the liked the resource which can support teachers in adaptation or the future development of resources. This is shown below.

As you can hopefully see tagging and rating have significant potential to be useful in the development of a better learning environment both for teachers and learners.

SharePoint 2010 RTM Day. Take a sneak peek at 10 awesome end user features for SharePoint 2010.

As many of you will know today is the RTM (release to manufacture) of SharePoint 2010 and the starting point for many schools to consider migrating from SharePoint 2007 or moving from non-SharePoint Learning Platforms. For our team at Twynham School it is a special day as we have actually been working with SharePoint 2010 since December 2008 on Microsoft’s TAP (Technical Access Preview). This means we have helped been able to help shape and develop the latest platform through Alpha, Beta, Beta 2 and RC- it has been a long but enjoyable journey!

I thought it might be useful to share some of the major developments in SharePoint 2010 as we are now running this fully within the school with our 3,000 users. These are just a taster with screenshots and headings but I will be putting out much more detail over the next few months. Here are some key changes and improvements you should look out for.

1. The Ribbon which we hve got to know (and love?) in Office 2007 now appears in SharePoint 2010.

2. Uploading images is now simple and as easy as the rest of Office

3. Changes take place within the page

4. Media can be instantly uploaded into the page.

5. Cross Browser Support

6. Web Apps bring real cloud computing to SharePoint.

7.  Social Media improvements (e.g. rating and tagging)

8. Improved My Sites and Social Integration.

9. Improved social features in blogging.

10. Powerpoint broadcasting from SharePoint

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