Sunday, December 30, 2007

Wiki by design...

Example of good design
Visiting wikis during this course I am reminded that good design should apply whether it be a web or a wiki. The Emerging Technologies Knowledge Garden page is very uninviting - too much text, little organisation and too much scrolling!
Cernohous (2007) observes that the vastness of the web conceals information. Relevant information is sometimes hard to locate on the web. Wikis can bring solutions for centralizing , organizing and disseminating information relevant to users. This is why its even more important that wikis be inviting spaces, well organised and use space, navigation and good web design practices.

Cernohous, Steve. Athletic Therapy Today, May2007, Vol. 12 Issue 3, p2-5,

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Wiki culture...

As I work my e-book page, I am discovering more about wiki culture. The following is taken from The Open Content wiki

Maintain a Neutral Point of View (NPOV). Present information straight forward using language that would make it difficult to tell who wrote it - neutral.

I have noticed that a lot of comments on pages seem to be editorial in nature (eg. in my opinion, I think that). I have edited others pages this way myself. In future I will try for the NPOV tone, backing up statements with authoritive citations.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Learning languages through social networking is a Web 2.0 application that is creating language learning communities around the world. On this site you can find a language partner or group, share language resources and participate in language activities.
This application can reduced the isolation many L2 learners feel and create a sense of community. L2 learners can learn from their peers and build language learning communities. Working with others in this way could help to overcome anxiety and low self confidence that offen hampers second language acquisition in a classroom setting.

Monday, December 24, 2007

"Google Docs and Spreadsheets is like pure collaborative oxygen"...

I have just read Asra's facilitated page about Sharepoint and have started to do some research to contribute some thoughts. Having read and used the functionality of Sharepoint, I am wondering if GoogleDocs is a light weight but 'free' alternative. Could this be a similar experience between WebCT and Moodle?

"There are a great many users who only require the most basic of functionality out of their productivity software but who also end up with something like Microsoft Office if for no other reason than compatibility with the other people they interact with" (Berlind).

Berlind suggests that many people do not need the high-end advanced tools like Sharepoint offered by Microsoft. GoogleDocs and Googlespreadsheets need no local software or specific operating system or system administrators with GoogleDocs and Googlespreadsheets all you to begin collaborating with someone else, all you need is a browser.

Perhaps the commercial and freeware products both have a place depending on the needs of the user and their environment.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Facebook no longer 'is'...

In an article in todays addition of the SMH, it has been reported that the users of Facebook have brought about a gramatical change - Each update started with the member's name and "is," followed by a blank box - until today - Users now supply all their own verb.

This may seem a small thing, but to many English as second language speakers, it comes as a victory against the very English-specific way many social networks operate. Facebook hasn't translated its site into languages other than English, but is planning to do this next year.

Collaboration or plagiarism?

In my quest for all things emerging, I came across Scriptova, a site created by 18 year old Aseem Badshah. Referring to it as a YouTube or Flickr for academic documents, " is an online community for students to collaborate and receive feedback on their academic work. This includes essays, notes, lab reports, presentations, and everything else students create to advance their knowledge" ( Students can upload their work so that others can review, make suggestions or use as part of their own work.
In an interview, Aseem was asked about the line between collaboration and plagiarism. Aseem suggested that school should be like the real world of work, where the goal is to take what is known and improve upon it. Knowledge should be built upon, rather than reinvented. This way knowledge becomes more analytical and real innovation occurs.
One of the keys to this kind of collaboration is to ensure that the foundation knowledge is built upon quality information. Aseem suggests that students should be taught how to research and how to evaluate, then taught how to collaborate for a true learning experience.
I have uploaded one of my old essays and await the results :)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

"Web 2.0 is like obscenity"

This weekend I attended a conference - you guessed it - all about Web 2.0 (specifically Library 2.0)! The presenter defined web 2.0 as like obscenity - different to different people, depending on your own interpretations of the world around you.

Web 2.0 technologies are -
  • easier to interact with than a normal web page
  • seem to know there is a person at the computer
  • a service model with a user centered design
  • has network effects by default
  • has user generated content and trust
This definition fits well with me and helps me understand the concepts behind the technology. I think the last point user generated content and trust is an important one. It is important to have trust in your community and understand the implications of this trust relationship.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Situated learning...

This afternoon I transfered knowledge from my course to the real world. I have used Elluminate as a student, so I decided to use it for a meeting of peers around the country. A challenge for meeting in my context is that I work closely with colleagues in 17 different campuses, scattered throughout the desert, often separated by traffic snarled roads. Generally we don't meet, corresponding through email.

The problem with email is that it is easy for silent non-participation amongst some members of the group. It is easy to lose the thread of the conversation, have disconnected conversations or to lose momentum for a task. I believe that Elluminate and other conferencing collaborative software may prompt greater participation in my working party, especially during the start up phase.

Having attended a session as a participant, I learned the basic functionality and was confident I could pass on the basics to the group within a few minutes. Being a participant is easy, being the moderator is hard. I found that the moderators role is very complex, having to ensure equal participation, engagement and encouragement amongst the group. It takes a keen eye, as people text chat, talk and contribute to the white board at once and it is easy to miss vital parts of the discussion. The moderator needs to ask open questions to the group and also individuals directly so that there is less 'mt' (moderator talk) and more 'pt' (participant talk).

Although this was the first time for everyone in the group (6 participants) we found that after initial hesitation, everyone was chatting and using the emoticons and symbols to provide feedback to others.

We have decided to use a wiki or Sharepoint (our institutions common space) to continue to share our ideas in a collaborative way.

I learned that the software is easy, perhaps a little clunky with the microphone a bit like a walkie-talkie. I found its the human-computer-human communication that takes time and attention.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Scratching below the cyber-skin of wiki swingers...

The last couple of days I have been discovering the joys and horrors of posting to wikis - specifically the Knowledge Garden. I learned something of the topics, but more about the mechanics of posting, the nature of the wiki swingers, the discourse and the type of information wikis often contain.

Lessons learned:

I notice that the discourse for wiki contributions from experienced users is far less formal than my own. I use a very academic formal style, tending to back up statements with references. Perhaps wiki text is more editorial in nature, tending towards opinion rather than fact, informal and first person in structure. I need to develop this wiki-speak, to become part of the culture and community who value their own opinions and wish to contribute them in this style.

The mechanics of the post sometimes overshadows, and takes much longer than researching the content. This may become easier over time. I have found that different facilitated pages ask for comments to be written in different ways (hidden comments, invite, editing main page). At this point, the medium of delivery is far more complicated than the message.

"My fear is not of wiki or Google. My concern is that the confusion between finding information and building knowledge..." (Bradazon, 2007). In this article, Brabazon (2007) suggests that emerging technologies are creating confusion between finding information and possessing the literacy to evaluate and judge information. When I see unreferenced comments, my immediate reaction is 'how do they know this, are they experts, how do I validate this information'. When I think in terms of my students, I see the need for critical evaluation skills development, so that they can determine fact from opinion, as wiki and scholarly communication mesh into one.

Am I mistaking the purpose of a wiki? Should I be looking at it as a free flow of ideas exchange, like a conversation, not worry about authority, authorship or ownership, rather than a repository of scholarly information?

Bradazon, T. (2007). Boomers in thrall to a wiki universe. The Times Higher Education Supplement. Nov. 16, 14.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Directory of Web 2.0 Applications

One of my goals for this course is to get a handle on Web 2.0. I understand that Web 2.0 refers to web-based communities and hosted services such as social-networking sites, wikis, and folksonomies.

But what applications make up 2.0?

The GO2web20 site is a directory of web 2.0 applications and services. There were 1823 logos (sites) on the directory as of Sunday, December 02, 2007.

These include:

- Networking sites
- Easy site builders
- Idea sharing
- Search tools
- Organizers

...And a whole lot more!

By exploring this site, I have learned-by-clicking and am getting a better understanding of what web 2.0 means to me and how I can apply it to my educational context.