Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Evaluating Social Networking Tools for Distance Learning

Good workshop so far. Take away ideas:
* Don't pick tools just because they are cool or the newest trend - what outcomes are you trying to achieve with the use of a tool.
* learning by reading is not very effective - it if were, we would not need schools, just libraries. Adding social networking moves away from pure reading to more interactive classes.
* Remember that all students are not familiar with or comfortable with this technology or they may know it but not how to use it for learning.
* Cons - privacy; who owns the data; permanence; advertising; structure
* how to choose: recommendations from other educators; conferences; test the tool yourself
* VLE Info Kit - way of evaluating Virtual Learning Environments
* If you are not completely comfortable with the technology, you can get a student assistant to help out.
* Jane's top tools for learning (I'm a big fan of this website) - http://www.c4lpt.co.uk/recommended/top100.html
* Be sure to do formal evaluation to see what worked and what didn't work and improve next time.
* presenter successfully used Ning for one of her classes. She commented that it was possible to create a private space that was not open to the world. She also noted that the space was primarily for socialzing as opposed to learning. There were required activities at the beginning of the term (post profile, picture, etc.)But then she left it for the students to use to use or not. She found that it reduced the sense of lonliness that students sometimes had in online classes.


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