Today I attended the 4Cast Conference on Social Networking and Campus Impact
The purpose of the conference is to get people from around UIowa that
are interested in social networking together in one place to discuss
how to use social networking on campus.  I’ll try to blog about it as
things go along.


9:00:
Conference start.  Jon Winet
gives an overview of social networking, web2.0, collaboration tools. 
Gives examples of weblogs, facebook/myspace, Google docs, flickr,
twitter, Second Life.  Issues about privacy and data
mining/aggregation.  Showed a video of a UI
Writers Worship doing a
reading in Second Life.  Discussed the convergence of information
sources – computer, TV, movies, cell phones.  Introduced an interesting
presentation technique called Pecha-Kucha: A powerpoint presentation using 20 slides, each slide shown for 20 seconds: 6:40 total presentation time.

10:00
Broke into discussion groups.  Discussed how SN tools support and
enhance teaching. and what can UI do to use SN tools.   Many of the
groups identified the need for some type of decision support system for
faculty to help them decide which tool could be used to address
different types of learning objectives. 

12ish: Lunch.  Very
yummy.  I spent much of it talking with a professor from the Spanish
Dept, who had questions about types of technology she could use NOW.

1ish:
Broke into separate sessions that went into more depth on specific
technologies – wikis, Second Life, podcasting.  Ok, I went back to my
lab for this part of the day.

2:30: Overview of Personal Response Systems, or “Clickers,” which are used to get real-time responses from lecture students.


Summary and Discussion

I
was struck by the range of perception of and experience with different
social network technologies.  Some people had never heard of some of
the tools, some had heard of them but never seen them, some had seen
them and were not clear why they would use them in class, and some
(few) had used them in class and research.  It was good for me because
it challenged many of the assumptions and ideas that I have come to
take for granted in my social network research.

Access to the technical skills and resources to build and use social network sites was an issue for some departments.

We raised some of the obvious issues of privacy, data mining, and UI
social network policies.  One professor, for example, recently started
a Facebook profile.  She only allows her students to see a limited
portion of her profile, and asks her students to limit her access to
their profile.  She wants to keep a teacher-student relationship, and
doesn’t want to see their party pictures.  Another person suggested
that it may be proper not to Facebook-friend people while you are
teaching class, but you can be friends after.  It will be interesting
to see how institutional policies evolve in this area.

Because
of the range of experiences, I think they could have done a better job
at introducing and organizing the social networking arena to the many
newbies in the group.  The first speaker did a great job of showing
some of the social network sites like Facebook, myspace, youtube, etc,
and even showed some examples of how they are being used in education. 
But I think this group needed to take a step back from specific tools. 
For example, I think social network technologies are good at 1)
locating and connecting people with similar interests, 2) enabling
asyncronous communcation and collaboration, 3) enabling reuse/mashups
of existing content and 4) aggregating many opinions or viewpoints
about a particular resource.  It may have been helpful to introduce
social networking by saying, “here are 4 uses for social networking
technologies, and here are particular examples of these uses.”  This
would have helped people to separate concepts about social networking
in general from the specific implementations you see in Facebook,
Second Life, etc.  Second, introducing social networking concepts
instead of specific tools may have helped people identify how these
tools could be used in their work and teaching.