Facebook for teaching and learning


For Barcelona/Spain-based Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC), Max Senges, Thomas Praus and I write a blog on technological trends and innovation in education. In the blog – called UOC Fórum Innovació – we look at the opportunities social media and web 2.0 technologies offer for education in universities and other fields.

We’ve been writing this for a little while now with rather low frequency, but we’re getting to a point where we produce more steady output. Partly we cover basics, partly more edgy ideas. This one is a classic, Thomas about how Facebook can be of value for university education:

Social Communities have grown rapidly over the last years, offering people the chance to publish personal information and connect with each other. The biggest social community today is Facebook with more than 120 million members. Due to the myriad possibilities to use Facebook, there many ways to support teaching and learning. Facebook started in 2004 at Harvard University and was aimed at connecting students. Now, almost every American student and many Europeans have profiles on Facebook. They use it to share information, such as links, photos and videos, to arrange real life events and to communicate in groups. The use of Facebook also shows the current cultural differences between teachers who slowly have to adapt to new technologies and students who grew up with digital communication. The differences in media use and learning behaviour between so called “digital native learners” and “digital immigrant teachers” are shown below. Understanding how to use Facebook opens up a way to stepping closer to actual student behaviour and to create a more appropriate way of teaching. image source: Apple Image source: Apple

Read more…

Global map of Open Educational Resources


Heather Fond (blog), director of iCommons, created this map of Open Educational Resources (OER) and the most notable activists and organizations in the field. This is pretty awesome – check it out:

View Larger Map

I just added Creative Commons International – who else is missing? If you know any organization or activist, please add them to the map.

(via UNESCO chair in E-learning)

Workshop on social media in higher education (follow-up)


As mentioned before, earlier this week I had the chance to hold a workshop on social media in higher education at Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC). (Slides below or on Slideshare). It was a great group, very active and engaged despite their completely different backgrounds and the language barrier. (Thanks guys!)

Special thanks, again, to Josep Maria Duart, who invited me and Carlos Albaladejo, who organized everything (including a lot of green cables) and blogged live from the workshop.

(This presentation is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution Sharealike, so you can use it both non-commercially or commercially as long as you do two things: a) reference me as the author and b) share your stuff under the same license.)

The workshop was roughly divided into three parts: A bit of Web 2.0 theory, just the basics plus some case studies of social media use in higher education; Then a practice session where we’d split up and play around with blogs, Flickr, Twitter etc; And a final part where the audience would share their experiences and we’d develop new ideas for social media use in the classroom.

This structure seemed to work quite well; maybe a stronger focus on practical applications would have made sense, i.e. maybe I should have shown more tools & tricks. Altogether, though, I have a good feeling everybody learned a fair bit, including me:

1.) Twitter, it was agreed on, isn’t the primary choice for in-class teaching. Which totally makes sense here, given that UOC is a virtual university and everything is done online anyway. Also, Twitter tends to draw a lot of attention, so you want to factor in some extra time for discussion if you show Twitter (which worked fairly stable – no fail whale sightings at all!). Twitter, it was proposed, would make a good presentation tool: “Begin with twitter, use it for presenting tools, end with theory.” By the way, nothing beats the effect of discovering your colleagues posting live, it’s always a blast:

Twitter: First Post

2.) Blogs and Wikis are a great start for university courses to start using social media. Wikis are harder to maintain as the entry barrier (syntax and writing culture) is higher. Blogs are easy to start, and I was glad to hear that one department was afraid of enabling comments until they noticed that the comments were overwhelmingly constructive – now they’re open and not moderated. Great!

3.) Flickr can be useful, but it’s probably won’t be a key service for your classroom – unless you are looking for photos licensed under a Creative Commons license that allows you to use the photos for free as long as you link back to the source. You can search for those photos here.

4.) Etiquette in our times of digital social network is still evolving, and quickly. What do we post online, why and how do we post? Should teachers be Facebook friends of their students? How much of a role do cultural differences between the U.S. and Europe play when interacting online?

5.) One thing, however, clearly stood out. Everybody agreed there is one major issue with everything Web 2.0: Time. Time, time and time. Maintaining social web tools like wikis, Facebook or Twitter takes time, and a lot of it. Where should that extra time come from, or where else can we save it?

To wrap this post up, here’s a few more links.

Links & tools that might be useful:

  • Google Feedreader to follow many RSS feeds more easily
  • Summize.com to scan Twitter for interesting conversations about certain keywords
  • del.icio.us to collect your bookmarks and share them with friends and colleagues (my bookmarks for elearning)

Useful articles, posts and blogs:

Thanks again everybody for the great time, and please feel free to get in touch anytime via email or Twitter.

Workshop: Social Media in Higher Education


Next Tuesday, I’ll have the great chance to hold a workshop at UOC, Barcelona, on Social Media in Higher Education. UOC is a virtual university with students all over the world, so they’re very web-savvy to begin with. I’m very curious about their feedback on my two cents on Web 2.0 and social media. Also, I’d love to hear what you think about the presentation!

Thanks to the awesome folks at UOC who made this possible and have been giving me valuable feedback: Josep Maria Duart, Carlos Albaladejo and Ismael Peña-López , as well to Max Senges for introducing us.

Disclosure: A while ago, I’ve co-written a book on Second Life for UOC with Max Senges and Thomas Praus.

Update: Thanks also for the feedback regarding typos and slide structure to Tim Bonnemann, Jenna, Puja and meowmix. I included your suggestions and updated the files on Slideshare, even though right now it seems like Slideshare hasn’t updated the embed above. Here’s an up-to-date PDF-Version: Social Media for higher education (PDF).