Reflection – Social Media and Participatory Learning

am cross-posting this from my ‘note’ from a doc i dropped in fb group:

If one were to do a Google/Bing search, you’ll notice that the most widely cited definition of Social Media is the following:

“a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content.” (Kaplan and Haenlein, 2010)

Personally, I observe that Social Media is but a term that took over the limelight of “Web 2.0”. If we look at the popular social media platforms (facebook, YouTube, twitter, etc.), these platforms spot Web 2.0 technologies in the backend. So what’s Web 2.0?

The term “Web 2.0” is computer science-ish, because “0.9, 1.0, 2.0 …” is used by software developers/companies for software versioning. In other words, Web 2.0 can be understood as ‘newer release’ of Web 1.0 (a term that doesn’t exist before ver. 2 appeared). Web 2.0 is first used and discussed at a conference between O’Reilly and MediaLive International (Tim O’Reilly, 2005[1]). Though it’s in the year 2005, one can already see that the various names that have grown (or waned) over the years (for e.g. Wikipedia, Flickr, Google AdSense). So what are common among these names and social media platforms?

Personally, I think one word captures it all: participation.

Just take a minute or two to think of the information and communication technologies (ICT) that you may have used or come across lately, do these ICT encourage participation in one form or another? Commenting, tagging, (re)tweeting, Liking, sharing, etc. are the actions that are commonly involved, and one form or another, I summarise them as “participation”.

What is the value of Social Media for education? Why use Social Media? I would think the answer can be found if we try to answer, “What is the value of participation?” for education. Back in 2004, some educators (including myself[2]) have begun to explore the use of blogs (then called “weblogs”; aka “edublog”). In the use of blogs, participation comes in two forms: posting and commenting (and commenting on comments).

Posting as the first form of participation, allows a student to practice his/her writings (language teachers would like this), and in formulating the contents, the student can practice his/her thinking skills (all teachers will like this), clarifying his/her own understanding of a topic or some subject matter (all teachers will like this too). “But this isn’t too different if a student does it in an exercise book or a piece of foolscap paper?” Yes, excellent question. The value-addedness of blog (and I’m arguing for other Web 2.0 ICT and Social Media platform) is the writing is now placed in a public space. Not just the teacher, but peers and even anyone on the internet, can now appropriate the contents posted. This calls for the next form of participation.

Commenting is the second form of participation in blog. By commenting on a peer’s blog post, or comment(s) under a post, I begin to bring my view and understanding of the matter to the public domain too. While viewing my friends’ comments, I may begin to clarify my own understanding, and it doesn’t stop here! I could further engage my peers in discussing their views while clarifying my own thoughts. Learning is deepened if this is carried out properly. Teachers, at the start, will need to scaffold the students, or in simpler words, teach students when to ask questions, how to clarify thoughts, how to respect others’ ideas, how to build on others’ ideas, etc.

Using Social Media for learning and teaching is to engage students in a participatory mode of learning. It is grounded in Vygotskian’s theory of social meaning making (Vygotsky, 1978)[3]. Once a teacher integrates Social Media as part of his/her lesson design, s/he embraces the socio-constructivist way of learning. Indeed, to some teachers it may involve a paradigm shift, a shift in his/her epistemological beliefs. Are you ready? (:


[3] Vygotsky, L. (1978). Minds in Society. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

[This reflection was written in the morning of 3 Nov 11 (Thu), the last day of the 3-day TWA Programme @NYP). It’s not meant to be complete in nature, but this serves as some consolidation of the three days’ learning and my past explorations, which can be found in my storeroom http://EduBlog.NET . Thank you dear friends@NYP who have put in a lot of efforts to pull together the programme. It’s meaningful to me personally. “Thank You!” once again (: ]

angry bird and Chinese Language

have been playing angry birds since gotten my droid last oct, and am always impressed by the many physics within. chanced upon this post “Using Angry Birds to teach math, history and science“, and i thought why not let’s have a list for “Using Angry Birds to teach Chinese Language”, and here’s some powder and smoke:

– 学生必须玩过angry birds,否则教师可想方设法让学生在课上,或课后玩过angry birds

听说 Listening-Speaking
– 让学生听不同版本的angry birds 音乐、或音效,然后让他们回忆并复述该音乐、音效属于游戏的哪个部分并象征什么意义 (听、说)
– 让学生假扮销售员,当堂兜售angry birds游戏,说服观众为什么一定要玩angry birds (说)
– 可让其他学生复述上述活动中,同学所说的内容,同时锻炼听和说的能力 (听、说)
– 让学生辩论angry birds及其他受欢迎的游戏,例如Mega jump、Fruit Ninja等。
– 若要配合ICT,上述活动可配合audioblog, podcast, 任何录音平台,甚至是VoiceThread、Glogster等进行

读写 Reading-Writing
– 制定阅读有关angry birds的篇章,并配合阅读微技的训练,设计理解问答
– 让学生上网搜寻有关angry birds的文章,例如游戏指南,玩后感等,然后写一篇综合报告,整理并总结所见到的内容
– 让学生写一封电邮或一篇说明文,介绍angry birds游戏及其玩法,或是闯关秘笈walkthrough
– 让学生写一篇记叙文,述说一次和亲友一起玩angry birds相关的经历
– 让学生假设本校将主办一次玩angry birds游戏的比赛,写邀请函邀请参赛,或给赞助商赞助活动
– 若要配合ICT,上述活动可配合blog, wiki, discussion forum, linoit等进行
– 除了独自进行活动,也可让学生分组进行协作学习collaborative learning (CoL)

感觉好像还可以衍生很多其他的活动,改次再写吧 😛

voicethread, re-reviewing

it’s been EXACTLY 3 years since i last chanced upon voicethread (VT), and now there arises a chance that i can possibly work more closely with the tool and conduct a research around it.

but before proceeding further, it’s important to me to (re)explore VT on it’s features and functionalities so as to inform the guide that we need to provide students, especially the potential pitfalls.

1. unicode / simplified chinese character support
back then, unicode is not supported within the commenting feature. now it’s working, comments can be keyed in in Chinese

2. import doc type
this is an extension of the unicode support problem. in terms of document file types, DOC, DOCX, PDF are ok. but when chinese characters are typed within, the level of compatibility is different. microsoft word doc gives on average 1 MISSING chinese character for every 6 characters; word docX gives on average 1 for every 2. VT is not to be blamed here, it is micro$oft’s propietary doc format specification causing the problem. when PDF import is used, it gives perfect rendition. so now we all know who’s truly supporting a more open standard. my experimentation goes here.

3a. no. of VTs for free accts
in a zero budget project, we’ll be asking students to create their own VT accts. however, each FREE acct can only produce three (3) VTs. this could pose a serious limitation if students are expected to produce numerous assignments over time.

3b. no. of VTs for
if more than 3 VTs’ to be created, the K-12 Class subscription will allow up to 100 students to be enrolled, enabling them to create up to 50 VTs each. the subscription stands at USD60/year.

that’s all for now, will add more discoveries as i go along (: