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So, after spending some time on various education-themed Waves (I had to limit myself because it started becoming a little overwhelming), I haven’t changed my mind drastically regarding the future of Wave. Or have I?
Yes it’s kinda cool.
Yes there’s potential.
Yes I’ve spent more time on Wave than on fb the last few days, believe it!
BUT… it’s still seriously early days. There is excitement, there is buzz – but will it come to anything?
I’m still trying to see it as a serious contender to tools currently being used in support of education and knowledge building. Here are some thoughts…
But first, here is an AWESOME indication of how awesome Wave is!
So far the only strong case that makes sense to me is for collaborative note-taking. I mentioned this in my earlier post, and I still see this as a strong contender. Having a class all take notes in one place and be able to comment/correct/add multimedia in support of content seems like a really really cool idea. At the end, you have this great resource made up of class notes, additional info, commentary, discussion – all in one place. And I think that it being limited by just the class will keep the Wave to a manageable size.
The structure I see working, which is supported by many who are having this conversation in Wave, is this:
- The teacher can set up the wave and invite students to it. The Wave could include the outline for the lesson that day – maybe even the slide headings and such that the teacher plans to cover.
- Provide roles to the students: students can individually or in groups play roles like recording what teacher says (note-taker), spell checking, fact checking, supporting evidence gathering, etc.
- Students and teachers alike can add comments or questions that don’t get addressed as part of the course of the class – maintaining what is also known as a Backchannel.
This would allow for the whole class to have a great reference in terms of notes for when they need to go over notes for an exam or paper or what-have-you. While the most construction would take place during class, this is something that could continue outside of class – but it isn’t imperative that it does.
A problem that some of the Waves foresee and I agree with, is that there will be slackers who benefit from this. But I think that as with all or most 2.0 stuff, there are always slackers or non-contributors who benefit from things (how many of us have actually done anything on Wikipedia?) Also, some educators talked about forcing kids to participate but others were quick to note that kids don’t like being ‘forced’ into anything.
Whatever the drawbacks, I do think that this is a more productive collaboration tool. I had to contribute to a Wiki for a class and it was really really boring. Even contributing to a blog is not as rewarding (no offense to this class) – the only way I feel engaged is if I have an RSS feed or turn on email notifications for comments. In a Wave – you can see people doing things in real time. There is something extremely compelling about that and I would like to think that it adds to a sense of community and could potentially act as a motivating factor in the collaborative note-taking scenario.
(There doesn’t seem to be a way for updates to a Wave to get to me other than just keeping my Wave window open and monitoring it. As a time-effective method this fails. The only way I can think of is similar to getting email updates, but that is the same as a blog. I’m sure something will come up – or we’ll get as addicted to Wave as we are to FB and keep it open all the time!)
I really really want to test this out in a real life situation and plan to test it with 4 of my classmates in another class. The output of that might be too late to report on in terms of this travelogue (some of them just got their accounts), but I will post my findings and feelings if there’s something interesting.
This is a term that is so so so important in education – not always because teachers and educators think it is, but, um, NCLB (and check this and this out too if you’re interested). I won’t say anything more on the subject.
Regardless of the reasons for assessments, they are still a part of our educational reality today. How can Wave support this? I have one word for you: Playback.
Let’s take the collaborative note-taking example. After class, a teacher could playback the Wave to see how students collaborated and which ones did what and how much. A lot of our classes have 10% or 15% of our grade alloted to ‘active class participation’. I still haven’t clearly figured out what that means, but it still seems like a judgement call on the teacher’s (or TA’s) part.
Having said that, the Playback function of a Wave can indicated which students are actively participating in a discussion or as part of the whole Wave. But what about someone who’s role is merely ’spell-checker’ or ‘fact-checker’ you ask? Who said that students had to have the same roles for every class?? Over a period of time, one would be able to see what the dynamics of the whole year or semester look like. I think there is a LOT of potential to this approach.
I have to say that since my last post, my skepticism is decreasing. But it won’t go away entirely until we can see and show how useful a tool Google Wave is. People were talking about how useful this could be for other uses in business – there was a lawyer who commented about how they could use it to collaboratively build a case file and such. I’m also seeing potential as an ethnographic or qualitative research tool. I do believe that there’s something to Google Wave.
Is it a game changer? I don’t know.
Google Docs was a game changer.
Gmail was a game changer.
Wikis were a game changer.
Blogs were a game changer.
All these tools helped us do what we already do… but better. Google Wave definitely has the potential to add to the general educational environment, but how much? There are already so many tools that support learning in similar ways. I think one of the key characteristics of Wave is that it is real time. Whether it is a serious game changer or not is yet to be seen.
Will I continue to use it? Hells yeah. Maybe even more than FB!
(Note: The interview with the educator using Wave was cancelled because he’s at the EDUCAUSE conference in Denver.)
Before I go make my concluding remarks about Foursquare, I want to first mention another development I learned of this week, very relevant to our class (not necessarily brand new, but this was reported on two weeks ago by TechCrunch):
Foursquare is implementing more and more peer-production! Very active Foursquare users can earn the label “Superuser,” made up of three levels – each allowing greater access to participate in the development of certain aspects of the site.
- Level 1: Users are able to edit venues (including names and cross streets), mark places as “closed,” and note duplicates.
- Level 2 (added two weeks ago): Users are able to merge venues themselves when there are duplicates.
- Level 3 (not added yet): Likely to contain elements such as adding badges and policing other users.
According to TechCrunch: “Shortly after the group of users got upgraded to Level 2, founder Crowley noted that ’we had some 2000+ duplicate venues in the system 30 mins ago. We’re [now] down to 400.’ He followed up shortly after that noting, ‘it took less than 2 hours for users to go thru 90% of our merge queue.”
Benkler (and the new media elite) would be proud. This seems like an efficient use of user participation for a start-up with only four employees. With users willing to help edit and produce Foursquare content, Foursquare themselves can focus on bigger issues.
Now some concluding remarks on my adventures with Foursquare:
Interesting conference at The New School:
From their site:
On November 12 through 14, Eugene Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts will host an international conference titled, “The Internet as Playground and Factory,” which will explore the meaning and changing face of labor in the digital era.
The event seeks to advance the conversation about digital media beyond technological advances and commercial applications to touch upon vital issues facing the future of Internet users. For three days, 90 theorists, artists, legal scholars, activists, students, programmers, historians, and social media experts will join to re-evaluate what constitutes unpaid labor, value, leisure, play, fun, and exploitation in an economy that is increasingly driven by the expropriation of all our blogging, data entries in online profiles, and submitted photos and videos. The conference will be comprised of discussions, panels, presentations, a film screening, a playroom, a conference game, and a re-enactment of Facebook by a performance artist.
Location: Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Auditorium, Sheila C. Johnson Design Center, 66 Fifth Avenue
Admission: Register online at http://digitallabor.org/registration/.
Foursquare has been gaining more steam this past week, with articles about the service (or location-based services in general – Brightkite, Google Latitude, Stalqer, Gowalla) in CNN, Huffington Post, Washington Post, and NPR. These services are definitely being hyped as the “next big thing,” especially because of their marketing potential – what I want to focus on in this travelogue.
So far, there are 35 NYC based businesses (mostly bars and restaurants) actively using Foursquare to promote return visits and promotions. Here are a few examples of what they’re doing:
@Angels and Kings: Hey Hey! Every 5th check in on Foursquare get a well drink or beer for free! Show your bartender to redeem!
I wanted to write a quick post about how my first week as a Foursquare user is going. I’ve been curious about it for a while, and this travelogue was a good reason to try it out. As far as new technology goes, I don’t consider myself an early adapter, so I don’t think I would have signed up for Foursquare otherwise right now. I sent out invites to about 7 friends, but only 2 of them signed up. 3 of them ignored the request, and 2 people asked me what it was all about, but when I told them, weren’t really into the idea of telling people where they were (fear of “oversharing”). So, unfortunately, I only have 5 friends on the site right now. So this is where Foursquare is lacking for me.
I think this says a lot about the people I socialize with though – one of my friends on it is a graphic designer, and is really into digital culture – he has 35 friends. Another is a computer programmer/digital artist, and he has 15 friends. They both run in circles of “techy” people (who I’m sure mostly have iPhones), ie, people who are probably more aware of new social media/internet developments than others, and are more enthusiastic to try them out. Apparently Foursquare is also really popular with NYC media professionals, according to this New York Magazine article notably titled, “Times Piece Ignores the Fact That Foursquare Is for Boozehounds.”
So it’s important to note that even though Foursquare may be lacking in users, those that are on it are key influencers (and boozehounds?).
Since his election in 2006, Booker has overseen a 36% drop in crime, doubled the amount invested in public housing development, attracted some 100 million dollars in donations to local charities, and recently turned down an appointment to Obama’s cabinet. After graduating from Yale Law, he lived in a public housing complex in Newark where he organized the residents to fight for better living conditions. Now, as mayor, he lives in a neighborhood traditionally known to be overrun by drugs and gangs.
Mayor Booker is the type of public servant who, despite coming from a wealthy family, being a rhodes scholar, and generally being a member of the professional elite, keeps his feet on the ground and lives with the people he is working for. So how does he use different social networking tools to further his quest to stay as connected as possible?
I’ve been following Foursquare’s developments closely this week, mainly through their very active Twitter feed, and google alerts. Because Foursquare is so new, and is just now starting to pick-up steam, it’s actually been really interesting.
My main question is whether Foursquare is going to have a lasting effect in the Web 2.0 world, or if it’s just another short-lived social media fad…”the next big thing.” I do think the service has a lot of business potential (and with this travelogue, I’m believing that more and more), but I’m not convinced that users will flock to Foursquare, especially not like they did to Facebook or Myspace. And I think that a large user-base is the key to Foursquare’s success. What’s the fun of using a tool that socially connects users in real-time and real life, if there’s no one to connect to? As I mentioned in class, Foursquare can only really attract a very specific audience: people with iPhones or Androids (texting through a regular cellphone is possible, but not as fun/active), who like to socialize, and who want people to know of their whereabouts. For some, Foursquare’s service offers too much information.
However, Foursquare does seem to be growing.
The biggest news this week was the announcement of a partnership between foursquare and BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit), the public train service in San Francisco, to encourage public transit use. BART is the first transit agency to implement Foursquare – it will be offering its own badge to regular riders, and riders can become mayors of all of the train stations. Starting in November (and lasting 3 months), riders who have checked-in from BART stations will randomly be awarded $25 BART vouchers, and in the near future, BART will be coordinating promotions with venue partners through mybart.org. The partnership was announced at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco on Thursday. Dennis Crowley, Foursquare’s co-founder, explained, “We’re excited about the potential for Foursquare to influence people’s actions and decisions beyond things like entertainment, into broader areas, like taking public transit or getting involved in their communities.”
I’ve been curious about foursquare for a while now, and yesterday’s New York Times article (as well as me needing an idea for a travelogue) was the tipping point for making me finally attempt to see what it’s all about.
According to the NY Times article, foursquare is “a fast-growing social networking service…becoming the tool of choice. A combination of friend-finder, city guide and competitive bar game, Foursquare lets users “check in” with a cellphone at a bar, restaurant or art gallery. That alerts their friends to their current location so they can drop by and say hello.”
I wanted to look into why gay men need a segregated social space, but as I continued to wrap my head around this idea I simply kept going in circles even I though I already knew the answer. Sometimes you just don’t want to admit that those truths, that though they aren’t true for everyone, including yourself, you know that it’s the truth for the majority. It’s like those stereotypes that people want to believe don’t exist even though we know that they still happen on a major level. Read More »