From the Guardian:

Online spaces are blurring, as universities that podcast and text their students have shown. The Jisc project manager, Lawrie Phipps, explains how the battle lines are being drawn: "Students really do want to keep their lives separate. They don't want to be always available to their lecturers or bombarded with academic information." [Students tell universities: Get out of MySpace! | Students | EducationGuardian.co.uk]

We are only beginning to explore the trade-offs between disclosure, either willed or as a result of usage data, and the services that can be built with that data. And we are only beginning to think about how to create social value in our applications. Much of the early work involves 'pushing' existing applications into social networking sites. However, this lacks the social dimension which characterizes the more successful applications there.

I liked Tony Hirst's empasis on 'pull', benefit and incentive, and on value, personal and social, in his post on Facebook apps (which led me to the above article):

The idea was simple - we would provide a tool that would provide students on Facebook with a personal benefit by helping them to enrich their profile with a course profiles badge that listed their OU courses, and then optionally provide them with a social benefit that would allow them to discover each other through that voluntary display of personal information, that is, through a shared declaration of their affiliation with a particular course. [OUseful Info: Helping Students Make More of Facebook Without Stealing Control...]

Via Sarah Horrigan via Tony Hirst.


Comments: 3

Nov 12, 2007
Jerome McDonough

Tony Hirst's approach seems a much better one for trying to sell students on the idea, but I think he's missing half of the point that the article and Sarah are focusing on. His characterization of the benefit of the OU Course Profiles application approach focuses on the fact that it's a "voluntary display of personal information." That's certainly a key issue, but it's not the only one; another major factor is that OU's approach leaves the student in charge of managing the various social spaces they inhabit, which is a slightly different issue than managing the release of personal information, but equally vital to identity management. The students' reaction described in the Guardian article is as much about a negative feeling towards having the walls between different social worlds they inhabit breached as it is about release of information. One of the reasons I love Goffman's The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life is because of the way it details the relationship between self and space and the ways in which we use social spaces to manage our identity. The OU approach not only leaves it up to the student as to what information they'll release, it leaves it up to the student whether they'll breach the wall between their Facebook social world and their University social world.

Nov 12, 2007
Lorcan Dempsey

Jerry - I prob confused things by making the comment about disclosing info - it does not go very well with the rest of the post ;-) It was on my mind because of the general discussion around facebook at the moment.

Dec 02, 2007
Lawrie

Lorcan,
thanks for the quote, later in the article I do point the dichotomy of what students want:
"They appear to want to keep their online persona private but when you ask them whether they'd like instant communication with tutors or feedback on essays (via Skype or Facebook) the answer is always yes."