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H807 – Trying out web services (A15.3)

June 2, 2011

This activity asks us to investigate the following services for sharing, disseminating or commenting on digital links and resources – with a partner or as a group.

Well, running late I will need to finish that task on my own, and it looks like that most of my peers did not work with a partner or as group, except that we discussed within our tutor group our experiences and finding.

 Delicious – storing and sharing favourite urls

  caching or archiving web content – can file urls, categorise them, comment

managing content – can share photos, send to blogs, comment or tag

As you engage with these services, think about:

  • What skills or e-literacies might be required to use these services effectively?
  • To what extent are the services able, or not able, to support and sustain meaningful exchanges or learning conversations?
  • What educational issues are raised by these social tools; e.g. issues of trust, authenticity, self-disclosure or informal learning?

What skills might be required to use these services effectively. I guess a certain degree of technical skills would be from help, although the installation of all services is not really difficult. Although you sometimes have to search around, like I just did, searching for the add-ons of Delicious for Firefox, but Delicious still offer no add-ons for Firexfox 4.0.1. Probably they don’t update because Delicious is sold to YouTube and will close in July. I haven’t made up my mind if I will move with my bookmarks, I am still undecided – probably I should try my luck with Diigo. Next to some technical skills to start an account and download a toolbar or add-ons, is not much required. You save links, you upload pictures, etc. I know it is a little bit more as just saving bookmarks or have a place to store pictures which other can access as well, but the effectiveness arise with the collaboration and sharing. I can search the links from others, which I did a couple of times to find out what they saved to a particular topic and it proved to be quite effective to get to know some other resources that might have helped to finish a TMA. I think you have to think about the purpose you want to use it for the own learning or teaching. Without a certain purpose the best tools/services become relative worthless. Goodyear (2002 in Mayes and de Freitas, 2004) stated:

“Neglect of task design tends to have two consequences – either students flounder around unproductively and unhappily, not knowing what is expected from them, or tutors find themselves spending much more time than they can afford trying to animate online discussions”

I think these service are able to support and sustain exchanges. Insofar they are meaningful depends on the learning design as mentioned above. I am not so convince whether they support learning conversations. As far as I know Delicious there is no option for conversation, or? and I guess there are other tools available to support and sustain learning conversations in a much better way, like e.g. a forum, blog or Skype.

The web services raise a couple of issues. Privacy issues where on the top list of our discussion and with each account we start with our real name we become an even more transparent internet user and with all the recent safety leaks one might become worried to suggest this services to students, especially to under-age students, as in my case which raises ethical issues as mentioned by a peer whether it is ethical to suggest students to sign in with a fake account. I think sharing links, at least educational links, does not really disclose much of my privacy, however uploading  pictures to Flickr, e.g. class pictures, raise again concerns whether they can be found later on all over the web. I think all that  needs careful considerations when designing elearning activities.

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