What I’m doing on the Social Media Classroom project this summer
May 30th, 2008

I’m working concurrently on four related activities as part of my HASTAC/MacArthur Social Media Classroom project:

1. The software development of the Social Media Classroom. Once a week, I Skype with Sam Rose, the Drupal developer I’m paying to develop new modules and configure Drupal/CSS to my spec. We usually have two other people in on the conversation, both volunteers — Brian Christiansen, a user interface specialist, and Max Senges a post-doc at Stanford who specializes in education, technology, knowledge-sharing, and curriculum development. Both Brian and Max contacted me when they heard about the project. So the four of us chat, talk, and screen-share while Sam walks us through the development. It’s definitely complicated fun. Each time we talk, we see more clearly — and we see more to do. We’re finishing the forum first, so we can use it for our development discussion. By the second week of June, Sam plans to have an alpha platform ready — forum, chat, wiki, blog, social bookmarking, microblogging. We’re going to use video, but until we develop an independent video module, users can convert their videos to flash at Youtube or Blip.tv or Vimeo and embed them in the forum, wiki, or blog.

2. Max and I are working on curriculum development. The students in my Spring 08 UC Berkeley course in Virtual Community and Social Media were enthusiastic participants in experiments in classroom and online collaboration, and engaged in ongoing and deep dialogue about how we ought to go about teaching this subject matter with the tools at hand. I’m convinced that for studying the issues that arise around social media, the syllabus and combination of lecture, discussion, and online discourse that I used during the first iteration of this course should morph into collaborative inquiry into attention, identity, community, collective action, social capital, public sphere that are raised by the students’ own social media practices. I’ll get more concrete about what I mean in a future report — a detailed description of how I plan to use the social media classroom to teach Virtual Community/Social Media in 08-09 will be added to the wiki in June-July.

3. I started collecting resources about participatory media and pedagogy a couple years ago — before the DML competition. I need to work with others to reorganize, expand, and install it on the wiki

4. I’m moving up from iMovie to Final Cut Pro and combining live video, voice-over, motion screen captures, animations and info-graphics to detail the why-to and how-to of using the social media classroom to teach theory and practice of social media. You can see some of my early efforts (particularly the “(re)Slice of Life Online,” “Attention 101” and “Attention 102” episodes) on my vlog.

After these four steps are accomplished — I’m aiming for mid-Fall — the next step is to grow a community of practice. If you are interested in participating in online discussions and/or contributing syllabi and/or resources regarding the use of participatory media to teach and learn, email me and I’ll put you on the list for contact when we launch. howard at rheingold dot com

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