Twitter tools.

Several people (AJCann was the first) have pointed me to Twitter Friends. I’ve had a look – I rather like the Network tool.

Twitterfriends1.png Twitterfriends2.png
(Clearly Vicki Davies [Coolcat teacher] is a pretty popular tweeter!

From there I discovered how annoying it would be to follow me on Twitter.

Neither, of course, are to be confused with TweetFriends (which still wasn’t able to explain how either Mendeley_com or Debategraph found me.

Shared with Flock – The Social Web Browser


I’ve just had Mendeley_com start to follow me on Twitter. Not quite sure how they found me, but Mendeley itself claims to be social software for managing & storing research papers. In itself, perhaps it’s not that new, there are other academically slanted social bookmarking etc., tools (e.g. Connotea, Scholar [which can be integrated with Blackboard, which may make it less useful for researchers, but potentially more useful for student researchers] or CiteUlike).
The guys (and they do all seem to be guys) who’ve set this up seem to primarily be UK based (so a little interesting to see how few UK researchers have registered so far.) They say that they’re trying to work with some of the founders of Skype & – who clearly were good at getting networks working.
I’ll register.

Twitter – in the Guardian.

I’ve noticed a huge number of articles in the press on Twitter. Was going to post a link to the one I was reading in Tuesday’s G2. However, I had difficulty finding it when searching the Guardian for twitter … 724 mentions of it, of which 25 were this year (so, about 3 a day). In fact, the first 10 items were dated between tuesday & today. Unfortunately, “G2” doesn’t seem to be a field I can search on, so will have to locate it later. (I.e. find the G2 on the living room floor & find select more useful than “Twitter” as a search term!)

Ning: The Marmite of Social Networks.

You love it or loathe it.

I’ve recently read several posts singing the praises of Ning. I’ve had an account on it for quite some time & I’ve yet to learn to love it in the way that some do.

It does have some very good points – quite a lot in fact:

  • It’s very easy to set up.
  • It’s free (or commercial, if you choose) – though those teaching 13-18 year olds can have an ad-free version for free.
  • It’s possible to have a very private network – which can give educators the privacy they need – especially for that 13-18 age group.
  • It can be customisable – so different Nings can look different.
  • Within a Ning, it’s possible to have forums, individual blogs etc.

So, why don’t I like it?

Well, it’s really the fact that it creates separate Nings. So, I can join several Nings, and people in one need never know I’m in another. But, *I* know, and I’d really quite like to have an easy way to see an overview of my life in all my social networks.

From an educational point of view – especially at Higher Education, all too often the structure of both the modularised curriculum, and then the VLE on top of that, encourages siloisation of learning. If we then create a Ning to support each subject – we’ll then have further siloisation of learning.

Other SNSs – such as Facebook & Elgg, make it possible for the user to see their overall activity in all their communities – but to customise (particularly in Elgg) who can see what.

My other bug bear with Ning, is that even with the communities hosted on Ning, I have to login to each one. I can’t login once & see them all. OK, so I have Firefox set to remember passwords, so it’s just a case of clicking, but I still have to do it!

So, I’m afraid that, despite several attempts to get over it & indeed, membership of several Nings (not visited that often) I just can’t see myself ever getting into the Love it camp.

Maybe, were I teaching younger students, then I might see a use; especially at class level (rather than subject level), but for me, and for what I’m teaching, it just doens’t do anything.

Last week, Terry King & I went to the “International Elgg Conference” at Brighton University. Some of you are, no doubt, sick of me “banging on” about Elgg, (I see it’s recently won the InfoWorld “Best Open Source Social Networking” software recently)

Other Universities (e.g. Brighton, Westminster [theirs is closed, so the link is to Slideshare], Graz Technical University, Leeds University and Nottingham [private, so no links]) already have installations of Elgg; and it’s something I’d like to look at here. There are, however, aspects we should consider – we already have blogs for students via UPSU – though they don’t seem that active. However, some recent Ideas… by Shrey would suggest that there are some technical limitations to their current set up.

I can how hear students pointing out that they don’t want the staff to see their comments. Fair enough – though I’ve just found some of their blog postings! However, the feature of Elgg that I feel particularly powerful is the granularity of permissions. If you could be bothered, every single post could have a different set of viewers. So, friends can see one set of posts, lecturers another, other students on the same units a third and so on. (Oh, and to add to Shrey’s Twitter comment – there’s a “Shoutout” plugin that can either bring in your tweets – or if you don’t want a twitter a/c, you can just do it within Elgg – Edusapces have activated it)

One of the main drawbacks that I see at present in the way that the permissions systems work is that it’s not possible (as far as I know – but the newest version of Elgg has a lot more features I’ve yet to experiment with) to have users that merely have “read/comment” rights, but not posting rights. I can see why Universities don’t want to have anyone registering – due to storage issues, however, people might realistically want friends from home – but not the whole world to see certain comments. If, for whatever reason, they don’t want to use Facebook for that, then a “reader” user in Elgg would allow them to be added to a group, but not to have a blog. So, all are happy.

Social Conferencing.

Alt C used Crowdvine to get some social networking going during the conference – it was Ok, though I have seen better Social networks (mind you, I’d far rather Crowdvine than Ning!) I’ve just seen the website for Handheld Learning – which seems to be a very useful site – as it’s got some social tools (fora etc) but also the presentations / photos/ videos all on the same site. Useful info too!

Via Stephen Downes. | Home An attempt to map who’s doing what, where. C’mon Portsmouth, there’s only 7 of us listed, as does Southampton; but Plymouth has 54, and Edinburgh 58!

It’s not the fastest of websites, and adding your interests is a little slow. It’s good, in that there’s a list to choose from – thus reducing the chances of mis-spelling etc., however, not everything is in the list. Bizarrely, given the nature of the website, neither “Social Networking” nor “Web2.0” feature… (Also – “University of Southampton” & “Southampton University” were listed – the latter didn’t have any departments or people. It let me delete it … will I get told off?)

Via: Stephen Downes.