Social Networking: Should it be part of my class?

Image by sitmonkeysupreme via Flickr

At my university, profs are on the fence about this. Some say yes, go where the students are.  Others say no, don’t want to jump on that bandwagon. Many say, tell me more…

In response to “tell me more”, my colleagues and I have gathered some resources together in a wiki. Maybe some of you will find this useful (and add your own resources?).

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Seeing the forest or just the trees?

At least a part of every day, I seem to get so caught up in the details that I lose sight of the big picture.  Apparently, there is a term for this – at least as it relates to visual perception. It’s called inattentional blindness.  I’m making the loose connection with what happens when I focus so intently on the tasks at hand that I loose sense of the purpose and (consequently) miss the incidental yet important pieces of the bigger picture.  Maybe this is a different thing, but somehow it seems related.

I was reminded of an earlier post on Mind Hacks on this topic and a link to .

Click on the photo below to take the test and see what I mean…

image of a group of people about to play basketball.

image of a group of people about to play basketball.

Cell phones, ipods and knowing when to quit…



Apparently, some UBC profs are getting sick of competing with cell phones and electronic devices in their classes. The proposed solution? Block wireless access in the classroom!  What? In my mind, this is like using a taser to solve a conflict.  What happened to discussion? Negotiation? Talking about the problem?

At Syracruse University, one such frustrated prof decided to stop teaching when students are texting. This sparked some interesting discussion among the readers of Inside Higher Ed. and (I’m sure) among his colleagues and students.  Maybe this wasn’t the most mature way to handle the problem, but I’m sure he wasn’t the first to feel this way.

I agree that the indiscriminate use of cell phones and other gadgets seems to have led to an epidemic of rudeness that is hard to fathom sometimes. I’ve witnessed genuinely kind and socially responsible people cross that line more than once in meetings and even during conversations and I’ve felt the sting of being on the receiving end of the rude behavior. Am I that boring? Was it something I said? Are you just not interested?

The problem is that we don’t talk about it, examine the consequences or draw our own lines when it comes to using these tools in situations where others are involved. And I can almost here the collective cry the “multi-tasking” is an important and necessary behavior.  I don’t buy it.  Multi-tasking (to the level that we seem to find acceptable these days) is freying us, wearing us down and (probably, in some way) leading to the downfall of civilization (OK, maybe that was an overstatement).  Besides, we’ve always multi-tasked to some extent, or day dreamed or doodled. But when you pull out your cell to text your friend or colleague in the middle of a lecture, or  you subject your fellow bus-riders or grocery line standers to a raging conversation about a wall post gone wrong on Facebook – you’ve crossed a line. Your departure from caring about the people around you has become obvious and (in that sense) it’s just plain rude.

Digital Tattoo: What’s Yours?

UBC's Digital Tattoo Project


Digital Tattoo: What’s Yours? I’m really happy to say that I had a hand in the learning design for this project and it’s near completion now.  It’s a self-guided tutorial, built in WordPress with a focus on digital literacy (at least a beginning).  And the work of the students on this project was nothing short of amazing – especially considering they came in pretty new to the whole concept of digital literacy!

A bog shout out to: Seth Tee (design work and WP “tweaker”), Andre Malan, Liana Popa and Elizabeth Walker (content authors) and colleague Sheryl Adam (UBC Librarian, project lead and an awesome guide).  Thanks to Novak Rogic (web visionary), Brian Lamb (for spreading the word), Margot Bell (student supporter extraordinaire) and our whole project team (C.J., Carol and company) for providing the bones to this piece and the sharp eye to the details (thanks Ramona)!

If you’re interested in the learning design piece, here are the broad strokes:

  • various pathways to get started with the tutorial: based on current behavior (self assessment); following the design of the site OR clicking on a topic of interest.
  • each topic uses guiding questions, case study (or videoclip), key considerations and self assessment questions
  • progress through the tutorial is tracked as self assessment questions are completed.
  • polls are related to each topic and are included for fun and to offer a low stakes way to participate

So, please, have a look…leave your comments, share a useful link….

all for now

Digital Literacy, Stress and Summer

What do these things have in common you ask?  It’s all about “what I did on my summer non-vacation!”.

UBC's Digital Tattoo Project


Project 1:  Digital Tattoo:  This is basically a self-guided tutorial all about digital literacy for students.

Still a work in progress but getting close. My role was learning design and student wrangler on the web design and content development.

Project 2: LEAP: We Help You Learn.  This is an ongoing project – an academic support site for students using “web 2.0” approaches for aggregating, sharing and distributing content. This summer, my role was in supporting my excellent student colleagues Andre Malan and our LEAP student team in a small redesign and in the development of some new quizzes, including one aimed at assessing thinking patterns called “Are You a Stress-a-holic?”

LEAP _ We Help You Learn

LEAP _ We Help You Learn

What did I learn?

  • students have a great capacity for learning complex things quickly and making them work. They need support, guidance and mentorship from us, though.  Sometimes, we get so impressed with their levels of competence, we let them take the reigns before they’re ready…(still thinking about this).
  • design by committee is a nightmare unless done well.  Agreement on process upfront is important.
  • the details are critical and often overlooked (or assumed to be simple)
  • working with diverse project teams (including students and staff) is energizing, frustrating (at times), alot of fun and requires much patience and a good sense of humor.

All for now, off to Italy in a few days!