Tag Archives: social networking

Facebook – new group function in K12

One of my earlier blog posts I made some recommendations for settings for setting up groups for use in the K-12 environment. Since that post, the Facebook group function has changed and I wanted to share what I have learned so far.

The group function is still accessed from the main page in Facebook.

Select the ‘create group’ option.

Next, enter a name for your group, choose an icon from the drop down list and select the type (open, closed or secret). I recommend ‘closed’ for K-12.

Once the group is created, the new ‘header’ is displayed.

Changes include:

  • the ‘post’ area is not visible by default, it must be selected
  • document creation and editing has been added
  • discussion areas within the groups have been removed

Note: groups created prior to this feature change continue to function the way they did.

Group settings are adjusted through the ‘edit’ and ‘settings’ options.

What Else is New?

  • The new group function also provides the option of defining a group mailing list. In my example, I would name the mailing list after the group (watweb20@groups.facebook.com). Messages posted to this addresses are distributed to group members.
  • Only Facebook friends may be added to a group. The email list option to invite group members has been removed.
  • Invited friends are automatically added to the group. The former request/accept process has been removed.
  • Group members can remove themselves from a group, but must request to rejoin as they can not be reinvited
  • The group owner (administrator)  may also remove group members
  • The display of posts has also changed. When a group member posts on a group wall, the post also shows in your personal newsfeed (not wall). Friends in the group will also see the post in their newsfeed. The ability to see posts is also impacted by the ‘top news’ or ‘recent’ setting.

All in all, the new group function will work well for K-12 usage.  I recommend that users set their security and privacy settings appropriate for professional conduct and interaction with students.

Thank you to @rebrouse and @rickbudd for working with me to test and document our learnings.

Happy collaborating in a social networking environment.

~ Mark

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Have you checked your digital footprint?

On mornings when I eat breakfast by myself, I usually do a little reading to get the day started. Gone are the newspapers and magazines. My reading is done on the computer. How much reading get done depends on my ‘blast off’ timeframe, but I always do some. On a typical day,  I would

  • check work email for any time sensitive items
  • log into Twitter, read new tweets and usually I will post something about my upcoming day as well
  • next stop, read the daily blog post at  Off the Record – a great start to the day.
  • then, time permitting,  check headlines and areas of interest on web based major newspapers
  • on weekend mornings, I also catch up on the wide selection of  blogs I read

Recently I was reading a Twitter post about Library Learning Commons. I decided to Google the person referred to in the tweet to obtain a little more information, which was easily obtained. Then, a fleeting thought zips through my mind … I haven’t Googled myself lately, I wonder what comes up.

So, I Google my name, then my name and location, and finally my name and role.  Well, I was amazed at what was listed among the Google listings. I new from trying this exercise earlier from a digital footprint perspective that there are many Mark Carbone’s that come up in searches. Looking at the listings specifically about me, I expected to see references to:

  • my blog
  • Twitter
  • ISTE and other educational forums on Ning that I participate in
  • and maybe Facebook

I was surprised to see a number of other references that referred to participation in other online forums. Surprised meaning you don’t think about the quantity and depth of checking and indexing that occurs in the online world. Some examples include:

  • Listings of comments that I posted on various blogs (via BackType.com)
  • Linked In
  • Comments on public Facebook pages (music groups in this case)
  • My Twitter activity was fed to a CIO dashboard listing of CIO’s on Twitter

Reflecting on this, I guess I should have anticipated some of these ‘extra references’. After all, there is a public component to many of these web 2.0 services. One doesn’t necessarily think that their actions (comments) will become searchable items accessible by today’s powerful search engines. Based on what I observed, my digital footprint has definitely expanded since I last reviewed it. With my level of participation, this is it be expected, and arguably a good thing.

New to social networking? When using social networking tools as part of your activities, you will want to be aware that your activities my not be as private or as limited as you may think. Social networking tools and today’s search engines are very powerful. Your online activity becomes part of a more permanent digital imprint that is part of society now. Enjoy, learn and benefit from what these tools can offer. At the same time, this points to the need for safe, ethical, responsible online activity and good digital citizenship.

~ Mark

Twitter users bring perspective to classroom activity

Last month I had the pleasure of attending at trip to Lawfield Elementary School. I wrote about some of the things I learned and observed from my visit in a earlier blog post. One of the highlights for me was meeting teacher Zoe Branigan-Pipe. We had a brief opportunity for an engaging dialogue that day about the integration of technology and social media tools into classroom activities, and since then have been following each other’s activity on Twitter.

This past week, an interesting sequence of events occurred. One of  Zoe’s students wrote a blog post about a recent assessment activity in which the students were permitted to collaborate prior to submitting their answers. The student’s blog post was considering this experience from two points of view:

1. Is this cheating?  Should we be approaching assessment in this way?
2. Is this collaborating?

You could tell from the blog post that the student was really struggling with ‘what felt right’, and was clearly surprised by the collaborating opportunity.

Later that evening, Zoe posted a comment on Twitter asking her educator based PLN group to have a look at the student’s blog post and provide some feedback (comments). Within a couple of hours, at least 12 people, myself included, read and posted comments on the student blog. The common theme of the posts were:

  • knowledge is important, but it is also important to develop other work and life skills too
  • collaboration skills are needed and used in the workplace
  • development of collaboration skills is important for future success
  • take advantage of opportunities to participate in collaboration and consensus building opportunities

I have not had an opportunity to touch base with Zoe to find out more about the student’s reaction to the comments, but I will have an opportunity to do so within the next few days. I thought this was a great example of a teacher using their PLN group to provide real life context to a classroom situation via social networking tools. Well done!

~ Mark

Social Networks: What’s cooking?

Social media tools are having an impact in many ways in all age groups of society from pre-teens to ‘experienced’: retirees — it could be a lifelong activity, literally!   Let’s take a look at some current information.

KIDS/TEENS

In a recent surveys of teens,  38 percent of respondents ages 12 to 14 said they had an online profile of some sort. Sixty-one percent of those in the study, ages 12 (jumping in earlier than the suggested age requirement) to 17, said they use social-networking sites to send messages to friends, and 42 percent said they do so every day. Although social networking sites have a minimum age requirement of 13, there is no easy way to check or enforce this criteria. It really operates on the honour system.

In my mind, this trend raises some important questions in terms of use from the parent point of view:

  • Are these sites being used in an appropriate manner?
  • Do parents/guardians actively monitor what their children are doing?
  • How are the children learning about safe online practices?
  • Do the children know to protect their personal information?
  • Are there daily time limits placed on usage?

As a parent, what is your level of involvement? See the Social Networks and Kids: How Young is too Young?  article at  CNN.

ADULTS and the WORKPLACE

In October 2009, the USA Today reported that that 54% of companies completely block Facebook, another 35% apply some form of access limits, leaving only 11% that don’t put any limitations on Facebook use in the work force.

Dr. Brent Coker, of the Department of Management and Marketing at The University of Melbourne, reports that  “People who do surf the Internet for fun at work – within a reasonable limit of less than 20% of their total time in the office – are more productive by about 9% than those who don’t.”

Point for consideration: Is surfing the net really any different than daydreaming or chatting at the water cooler? Some employees may benefit from a little surf time. Not everyone has the same needs in terms of being productive – that is for sure. Hmmm, maybe this is true for students in schools too!

View the full ‘Companies Ban Social Media = Bad Idea’ article at Socialnomics.net. Additional information from the  Australian Social Media study can be found at the University of Melbourne website.

What is happening at your organization? Leave a comment or  send a tweet.

SENIORS/Retirees

Facebook statistics show an increasing number of users in the 50+ age group – boomer connecting with high school friends and keeping in touch with their children. There is a major social connection occurring with users in this age group.

Related Reading:

Ivy Bean: Tweeting at the ripe old age of 104

Social Isolation and New Technology

SCHOOLS

Teachers and administrators are learning more about social networking tools – the good and bad. The bad is usually connected to student bullying issues. Staff at Boards of education are thoughtfully working through some of the key issues:

  • safe, ethical and responsible online activities
  • Digital Citizenship and Character Development programs
  • incorporating social media tools into curriculum delivery in meaningful ways
  • thinking about content filtering in an appropriate K-12 context

The agenda is definitely moving ahead – that is a good thing.  Teachers are developing online Personal Learning Networks (PLNs) through social media tools such as Twitter, Ning groups and blog reading/blogging. Many are really engaged in learning something new every day.  Certainly, this is an exciting time to be in education.

It will be interesting to see how this all unfolds. In the meantime, one can keep learning and participating! See you online 🙂

~ Mark

Leadership: Managing Digital Distractions

One of the traits of a good leader is the ability to demonstrate individualized consideration for staff. Individualized consideration references the ability to treat and understand each employee as an individual. Putting this into practical terms, it means knowing employee strengths and weaknesses, how to challenge them on a personal level, and giving your undivided attention when interacting with them.

Now put this idea into your typical day. There will be lots going on — time constraints, multiple meetings scheduled back to back, demands on your time to make decisions etc. – you know the groove. People don’t meet for the sake of meeting (I hope). There must be some task at hand: project planning, issue resolution, budget, staffing etc.. and you are in attendance for a reason.

Reflection: In todays world we have many electronic communication tools that we use to support our work tasks. How do you manage these tools when you are with other staff?

  • Do you have the ability to focus on the task at hand and give your undivided attention to person/people with you?
  • Are you distracted by the devices and messaging tools as your disposal (smartphone/cell phone, landline, pager, computer or voicemail)?
  • If you are distracted, why are you? Do you need to be on ‘red alert’ for every incoming message?
  • Have you considered the message you send to the staff if you consistently put them second to these unpredictable interruptions?
  • Where have you placed them on the ‘importance’ scale?

Ironically, I came across the Hierarchy of Digital Distractions diagram (below) last week on the same day I was involved in a discussion about focusing on employees as individuals at a course. I doubt anyone would argue the convenience and benefits of using these tools in todays busy and complex work environment. And yes, there will be some exceptions when you do need to take a call. Does the incoming text/email/alert/call etc. always have to take priority?

Challenge: Consider the questions outlined above, and reflect upon whether your current practice could use a change.

digital distractions

Click here to view the original full size Hierarchy of Digital Distractions pyramid.

~ Mark

A Victory for Process: Facebook Privacy Policy to Change

My July 18th blog post referenced issues with Facebook not meeting Canadian privacy laws. This week, announcements were made indicating that following the consultation process with the Canadian Privacy Commission, Facebook would indeed make changes to bring their practices in line with Canadian privacy requirements.

During the upcoming months, Facebook will make several changes to its privacy policy. This will include clarifying messages on the site that inform users about their control over their personal information when they join, deactivate or delete an account or sign up to use an application.

Specific changes Facebook will be making:

• Updating the Privacy Policy to better describe a number of practices, including the reasons for the collection of date of birth, account memorialization for deceased users, the distinction between account deactivation and deletion, and how its advertising programs work.

• Encouraging users to review their privacy settings to make sure the defaults and selections reflect the user’s preferences.

• Increasing the understanding and control a user has over the information accessed by third-party applications. Specifically, Facebook will introduce a new permissions model that will require applications to specify the categories of information they wish to access and obtain express consent from the user before any data is shared. In addition, the user will also have to specifically approve any access to their friends’ information, which would still be subject to the friend’s privacy and application settings.

My View:  To me, this represents more than a victory for privacy. It is a vote of confidence that the process works – and it worked through the identification of issues, consultation, collaboration and resolution. This is powerful and more effective than some ugly court case. The efforts of those involved in this entire process will positively impact the current 200 million Facebook users and all future Facebook users. Three cheers for a great process!!!

Related Reading:

Original complaint by the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic

Original Findings and Recommendations

Facebook Press Release

Globe and Mail perspective

New York Times perspective

 

~ Mark

PLN: Harnessing the power of Twitter

Last week, during a break in our meeting schedule, I had a great opportunity to discuss the use of social media in the educational setting with friend, educator and fellow blogger Doug Peterson. On this particular occasion we were discussing our approaches to using Twitter and Facebook to make connections and keep our learning current. Doug captured our discussion eloquently in his recent On Going PD blog post, so I won’t repeat the entire discussion here.

Part of our discussion was centred around capturing and managing the rich source of information, ideas and resources within Twitter. I wanted to pick up on one point as a followup to Doug’s post as I have been using Seemic Desktop extensively over the last couple of weeks since that conversation occurred.

seesmic-logo

Seesmic desktop provides a powerful framework to organize and follow communications. The default setup gives 3 columns showing your main ‘Twitter feed’ – the list of communications from the people you follow along with your posts (like the Twitter ‘home’ screen on Twitter.com, replies, and private 1:1 communications.

With a little experimentation, I was able to streamline and view Twitter information in different ways, focusing on people or concepts.

Lists: People can be viewed as individuals or grouped by lists according to characteristics. For example, if you were following educators, you might have lists for your province or state, country and International etc. Each of these lists can be displayed in their own column within the Seesmic framework.

Concepts: Additional columns can be added to reflect the results of particular searches by filtering against the Twitter public timeline. Searches can be done with key words that you choose, or by the hashtag labels (e.g. #mlearning) which Twitter users include in messages for this tracking purpose. I have been comparing results for similar searches. For example, searches for mobile learning and #mlearning yield different results. It is rather interesting to view these columns side by side.

This approach allows you to become more of a consumer of information. Certainly, there will be ‘noise’ or distractions within the information flow. The Seesmic framework allows me to easily review posts at a glance by person, group or concept and zero in on items that catch my interest for further reading, bookmarking, commenting, responding or resource exploration. 

In my mind, there is no doubt that Twitter is a powerful learning and sharing tool. It is a core component of my daily learning and collaboration. In addition the in information I learn through the people I follow, I use this ‘concept’ approach to augment contacts, knowledge and resources in specific areas such as ipods in the classroom and mobile learning. 

I appreciate all of the Twitter participants who have become part of my PLN. Each day I look forward to the interactions, ongoing learning and collaborating!  See you online!

~ Mark