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Feeds in the Educational Context

Vicki Davis speculated here that FriendFeed’s new groups feature meant that you could keep a feed running for your class.  True.  But, why would you want to?  (<- rhetorical)  And, if you’re designing educational technology, why include a feed as a feature?

In that Psychology of Facebook class at Stanford I was taking, we talked a lot about explaining the compelling nature of the Social Web to people that “just don’t get it.”  (Like, your mom or people that only email when their forwarding pictures of LOLcats.)  So, I figured I’d give it a go.

You should develop a CourseFeed because:

1.    Interpersonal attraction amongst students.  “Attraction” here is not sexual, it’s the general gravitational pull of one person upon another, and according to psychology that’s highly correlated to familiarity with a person.  For instance, I’m attracted to Vicki Davis not because I’d like to take her on a date to the Olive Garden, but because she occupies my RSS reader, my Twitter, and my Facebook status updates.  Everywhere I go online, I see her.  If I walked into a digital bar in Second Life, I’d probably go over to her table first and make fun of all the other avatars that I’m not familiar with.  Students spend half a semester just getting comfortable with one another.  This would be greatly accelerated with a CourseFeed.

2.    Aggregating casually shared content, asynchronously.  Schools still haven’t figured this one out – the world has moved from a “synchronous” model where everyone has to be present at the same time, to an “asynchronous” one where I do my bit at my convenience and you do your bit at yours.  As is, if you are going to share something with the class, they all need to be in class.  Absent ones – they won’t know.  Ones that aren’t paying attention, they won’t get it.  I know, I know, they stiffs in the administration pay for some system you don’t use that can handle some asynchronous information distribution. But, students don’t log in so it’s useless.   But they don’t log in because the content there is generally formal and unidirectional (coming from you, cough (boring) cough).  Kids want to share and publish themselves.  They’re doing it everywhere online and guess what, right now you nor your class are included in the fun.

There are my reasons.  Take’em or leave em.  Oh, and follow me on FriendFeed, I’m lonely over there.   Oops, one more thing, join the Classroom 2.0 Room.

2 Responses to “Feeds in the Educational Context”

  1. Jason Wrage June 4, 2008 at 9:15 pm #

    Hi Michael,

    I must admit my newb status: I’ve only recently delved into the social web. However, I do feel that I am starting to “get it.” I can see the power and potential of integrating teaching & learning with the social web. You are ahead of the curve here.

    I found this statement that you made particularly profound:
    “Aggregating casually shared content, asynchronously.”

    Dissecting this a bit…

    Aggregating: centralizing access to diverse and copious data

    Casually shared: producers of content focus on its creation versus its presentation and delivery; consumers assign relevancy

    Asynchronously: key for both human and machine “scalability”

    Your statement will go far in attempting to explain my personal revelations about the social web to others who haven’t yet “got it.” And I hope that it goes even further in motivating the community to look at the social web as a pivotal tool in next generation educational technology.



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