Friday, June 15, 2007

TSI: Web 2.0 and Social Software

Following are a few more details on teaching new technologies during the Tempel Summer Institute, described in an earlier post. After developing our teaching schedule, we revamped our wiki dedicated to hands-on instruction, WIKI 2 in preparation for the course.

We decided to first give faculty a brief half-hour overview of the concepts of Web 2.0 and Social Software, with examples of major categories in each area. A section on the WIKI2 main page was prepared for this. A picture is worth a thousand words, and I love the illustrations in Dion Hinchcliffe's Blog, so we used the following:

The image provides a nice overall view of the major revolution of web content to user-created and user-managed information. Our presentation covered general categories and was not limited to educational areas, but we also did not want to overwhelm faculty with too may concepts and examples. On the first pedagogy instruction day, Diane had already demonstrated a couple of examples of wikis and blogs, so after going over the implications of the above illustration, Prof. Steve Loomis showed his Facebook page, a good example of Social Software, and how he uses it in his relationships to students.

We then quickly went through examples we had already listed in WIKI2: Another Social Software (Twitter), Video Sharing (YouTube), Image Sharing (Flickr), Mashups (Flickvision), and Presentation Sharing (Slideshare). One of Bryan Alexander's Presentations is a good example of the difficulty of separating the concepts of Web 2.0 and Social Software. The presentation itself, converted from PowerPoint and able to play full-screen, is based on Web 2.0 coding technologies. But the comments below, "Digg this", "Subscribe to user", Tags, and Embed Code are all at the Social Software end of the spectrum. Thus it is really impossible to separate the two concepts. This can be difficult to accept for people that need exact definitions.

Unfortunately, by the time we reached On-Line Office Suites we ran out of time, so we did not demonstrate these. We expected to cover Podcasting and RSS later in the week, but were unable to cover the "OPTIONAL" topics: Tagging/Social Bookmarking (, 3D Virtual Worlds (Second Life), User-Driven News (Digg), and Custom Home Pages (iGoogle).

Based on the above experience, I think a minimum of 60 minutes is needed for a brief but fairly complete overview of major Web 2.0 and Social Software categories. To individuals that have not been exposed to all of these, it could be an overwhelming, but also mind-expanding, experience.

Geotagging was added in the wiki later, when someone wanted to know if Flickrvision indicated where the pictures are taken. It only indicates where they are uploaded from, whereas geotagging indicates the images' actual locations. Unfortunately, I never had a chance to explain geotagging, due to the massive amount of information we were dealing with, and time constraints.

After the above presentation, we jumped right into blogging, which will be covered in a future post.

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