Friday, November 4, 2011

Using social media in an undergraduate course

Banner for the unit. Image by Karenkayho on Flickr
Over the past 13 weeks, I've been working with Keith Lyons teaching a unit called Business, Politics and Sport. Our goal was to modify the pre-existing unit outline enough so we could run an open, flexible, invitational learning event, where we could curate a guest lecture series, put everything online (not so much on university systems, but on real-world web sites), to make attendance intrinsically motivated, and to set assignments that were challenging and that make a contribution to wider, open knowledge communities. It worked, and we're getting really good feedback.
  • In the end, we used UC's Moodle in a very basic stripped back form, making it open access, and providing a link out to the unit website, with a forum set up if anyone needed it
  • We set up a unit website on Blogger, which fed through to a Facebook page, and used these to document progress in the unit
  • We used Wikiversity to prepare the unit content, and develop and submit the assignments
  • There were three assignments: an essay on Wikiversity, an online presentation, and an "open book" exam, where open book means the use of personal computers and the internet in the exam.

The exam is next week and everyone seems quite excited by it, partly because no one has sat an open book exam quite like this one. We're encouraging the use of chat and other online communication throughout the exam, and of course we're designing the questions with that capability in mind. Let's just hope the UC power circuits and wireless hold out for it. We have some contingencies in place.

Most of the essays are in, as well as the presentations, and almost all of the 93 participants have really risen to the challenge. We have some fascinating essays and videos published, from pole dancing to rock climbing, all with copyrights (hopefully) cleared, some with open standard format videos embedded, one in Arabic (although he will need an extension due to outside pressures), and many having been peer reviewed by other participants. The full list of works are here on the BPS2011 category on Wikiversity.

We have gained some really nice feedback so far from two of the participants already, and we're hoping for more when the exam and assessment is out of the way. We plan to produce a PediaPress printed book from some of the best essays, in combination with work from Ben Rattray's group working together on Wikibooks, producing a book of factsheets about disease and exercise.

It has been a pleasure to see this model of teaching work so well, and we can only hope to see it scale more with other staff taking up the principles and practices here. We're directing participants to engage in productive, real world knowledge communities, using contemporary information and communications technology, to produce openly accessible information from their work, drawing more on their intrinsic motivation than not, and it seems to have worked well.

When the unit is over, and the mountain of assessment is out of the way, I'll be using BPS2011 as a case study in my PhD. We were given an opportunity to implement some of our ideas on open education and networked learning, and while we couldn't take it all the way - for example, I would have loved to have tried open and rolling enrollments, or done more in terms of coordinating with other similar units or community groups, or mapped several of the learning objectives to vocational competencies where they obviously connect, we did manage to show something of a model worth thinking about. The workload has been well within the recommended limits - although the marking will be hefty, the learning objectives have plenty of evidence of being met, and the student feedback is looking excellent.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

History of Paralympics Australia

HOPAU is the tag word for the project called 'History of the Australian Paralympic Movement'.

Early in 2011, The University of Canberra National Institute of Sport Studies (UCNISS) proposed that we help the Australian Paralympic Committee (APC) write their history, using the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) wikis, namely Wikipedia, Wikimedia Commons and Wikibooks.
Paralympians and volunteers helping to
edit Wikipedia entries
Our objective is to try and build and sustain a volunteer editing community on Wikipedia, and to a smaller extent Wikimedia Commons. We want to work with that community to write a wide range of quality Wikipedia articles, and support that process by releasing and uploading a wide range of Australian Paralympic related media to Wikimedia Commons, such as audio and video content like interviews, productions and raw footage, quality images, and book and poster scans.
This project will be managed and documented openly on Wikiversity, as well as the UCNISS-HOPAU blog, and the task force page on Wikipedia. Communications take place on the HOPAU email list and anywhere the #hopau tag is used.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Social media in sport sponsorship and media

Robin McConnell has asked me to give a talk to his Sport Sponsorship and Media class, on social media. He's offered a list of questions to guide the talk, listed below. Before attempting a response to these, I will see if we can first establish an understanding on what social media is, as I see it that is, socially constructed media. This is different to just platforms that support social networking, which don't necessarily speak to the media side of the equation.

Below are my responses and links to that list of questions from Robin:

How could a sport organisation use social media get their message, brand across more people?
  1. Social media can be an extension to broadcast, but it is not only broadcast
  2. Social media can be used to communicate a message straight to audience without mediation by editors and journalists. Useful for press releases
  3. If done well, social media can be used to build engagement, loyalty and other elements of social capital
What could a sport organisation suggest to a sponsor?
  1. Brand visibility in the traditional form of logos and advertising embedded in the media
  2. Product placement strategies in the broadcast, and in the responses
  3. Direct links to point of sale by way of Amazon, Paypal and other online transaction methods
What sponsors would be interested in a social media?
  1. Providers of social media platforms (Facebook, Youtube, possibly local charters of the Wikimedia Foundation)
  2. Other internet service and mobile Providers 
  3. Startups
How do present sites use sponsors or get used by sponsors?
  1. NRL by Telstra
  2. Facebook and Google adds
What is being done to increase fan allegiance and how could this be used to get sponsor recognition across?

See UCNISS researcher, Laura Hale at where she is researching sport fandom online, developing a range of case studies to test her methods and support her recomendations.

How can a logo be featured in social media communications?
  1. Backdrops, clothing and equipment featured in videos made in house
  2. In campaigns that tap user generated content
Which mode of social media should a sport organisation first consider to get greater sponsor awareness by the public?
  1. First understand where target audiences frequent online, and study the culture and dynamics of those spaces
  2. Find out what skills and levels of participation already exist in the organisation
  3. Develop a strategy that ensures communications is regular, responsive, appreciative and non confrontational, and present.
What are the major social media sites/modes, their primary features/functions and how are they used by sport?
  1. Facebook - Fan pages, club pages, groups, athlete user accounts, campaigns
  2. Youtube - Mostly video broadcast, sometimes two way dialog, playlist creation
  3. Wikipedia - Ensure club, code and athlete pages are accurate, up to date, comprehensive and linked. Do this within Wikipedia policy, and fully disclose interests before making contributions. Don't be defensive.
See also

  1. Social Media In Sports: The Athlete
  2. Fan Engagement: Sports Social Media Done Right
  3. 5 Big Brands That Are Rocking the Social Media Space
  4. Digital Sport Summit | June 2011 | Melbourne, Australia
  5. The Cluetrain Manifesto
  6. These notes in a wiki

Listen, inquire, respond quickly and positively. Social media is not broadcast media, listen to the conversations. Individual publishers have potentially just as much to contribute, probably more, than your club or organisation. Always be present and respond quickly to direct questions or comments. Respond selectively and strategically to wider coverage.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Social media for the health professional - intro to search

More and more I've found myself talking to health professionals and clinics, interested in how they might use social media in their work. I usually advise that they should at least ensure their website it simple and easy to use (address and contact details on every page for example, and to consider using website services like Blogger to create and manage their site - because in my experience, its more reliable and better run than locally produced services). But most importantly, they are on search results. For example, look at this result for Canberra Health.

Notice how in the first result, Google is able to extract key navigation from the site and offer them in the search result, thereby helping people get to the information they need quicker - at least in theory, nothing worse than clicking "contact us" only to be presented with an online form and no address or phone number!

Also notice further down in the search results the image? Its to a news item with a video. Videos, especially if they're on Youtube, are given thumbnail previews in search results, naturally dragging the eye to the result.

Google search results are a snap shot of the web, relating to the search query. Logically then, the more coverage you have across the web, the more of these sorts of results you can generate for your area.

So my advice is to consider using the web in a distributed fashion. This means distributing your media across services, and then regather them into your central site. For example, all websites have images, graphics and photos. Consider first loading these images to a popular image sharing site like Yahoo's Flickr. Once these images are online, they can easily be embedded in your site like they never left. This way, some people browsing Flickr for images on places and events etc, will happen on your photos and see in the description your mention of your site and services. Likewise for video - on Youtube and then displayed on your site, for Calendar of Events, use Google Calendar and embed it on your site. Etc.

This sort of advice has been controversial for many years, with traditional web developers expressing concerns of control and reliability. As time goes on however, their concerns become less realistic, and for those who went first, their search spread and results are going from strength to strength.


For this exercise, put aside the better part of a day (part time), or about 3 hours solid and focused.

  1. Create accounts on Google, Blogger, Youtube, Flickr, Twitter and Facebook.
  2. Set up a website on Blogger.
  3. Create a playlist of the best videos you find on Youtube, and try and work out how to embed that playlist on your website. Hint, Google search is your friend.
  4. Load photos of yourself and your colleagues to Flickr, and embed these photos in the website section that is about you.
  5. Write a tweet announcing your website (and look into how to have new content on your website automatically update your Twitter status.
  6. Create a page on Facebook, and look into how your updates to Twitter, Flickr, Blogger and Youtube can automatically update your Facebook status.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Social media course, June-August, Canberra,

I've been putting some love back into the wiki for the social media course these past few days. Likewise giving this blog a new skin. We're planning to run another free and open social media course here at the University of Canberra, with a view to developing a generic undergrad unit that can be applied in any discipline area.

The structure is based on the traditional university style education, involving lectures and tutorials. 6 lectures are generic looks at social media in society, followed by another 6 applied to a specific area of interest. 

  1. Orientation to this unit
  2. It's the best of times, it's the worst of times - The pros and cons of social media so far
  3. The machine is us/ing us - Privacy, data, economic models and other basis’ for social media services
  4. An anthropological introduction to Youtube - Cultures and trends in large social media networks
  5. Radical transparency - Open source and participatory economics, mashup, sampling and re appropriation culture
  6. The evolution will be socialised - Proposals and activism for alternative social media networks
  7. Guest lecture, panel or interview [your applied interest here]*
  8. Guest lecture, panel or interview [your applied interest here]*
  9. Guest lecture, panel or interview [your applied interest here]*
  10. Guest lecture, panel or interview [your applied interest here]*
  11. Guest lecture, panel or interview [your applied interest here]*
  12. Guest lecture, panel or interview [your applied interest here]*
*Guest lectures, panel discussions, or interviews will be arranged based on the interests of participants in this course, and on topical events occurring during this course. The unit convener will make arrangements for these lectures. If you have suggestions, please contact the unit convener, or discuss it during prior lectures and tutorials.

Then there's the tutorials, with the first 6 focused on skills, and the later 6 on presentations by participants, as well as completing the assignments.
  1. Get ready
  2. Set up a blog
  3. Editing a Mediawiki
  4. Set up an RSS reader
  5. Bookmarking and tagging
  6. Photos and video online
  7. Participant presentations
  8. Participant presentations
  9. Participant presentations
  10. Participant presentations
  11. Participant presentations
  12. Participant presentations

The assignments include:

  1. A tutorial weblog
  2. A presentation
  3. A Wikibook chapter

And so, this should be seen as a generic course (at level 1 or first year) that can be adapted into any specific setting. On the same note, the course should be seen as flexible by potential participants, in that they can bring their own ideas for assignment work, or apply the assignments the way they need to apply them. Likewise with guest lectures. 

I guess this course tries to straddle the institutional education system, and the open interests out there on the street, so to speak. Its a difficult balancing act because participants tend to bring entirely separate expectations, depending where their coming from.

But we're running this course 14 June - 12 August, 2011, at the University of Canberra, contact me if you'd like to be involved, or coordinate your own teaching and learning efforts with this one.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Recent Changes Camp 2011

We hosted a RecentChangesCamp at the University of Canberra these past three days. It was an OpenSpace unconference focused on wikis and online collaborative practices, following the success of the RCC2010 event, and RecentChangesCamps held in other parts of the world. The main characteristics of the event were that it was free to attend, open to anyone, with a program determined on the day by the participants. The aim of the event was to draw together people interested in Worldwide Iterative Knowledge Involvement or wikis (we made that acronym up btw), to discuss and share knowledge, and eat and socialise in a friendly face to face setting.


  1. Laura Hale - University of Canberra
  2. Leigh Blackall - University of Canberra
  3. Jutta von Dincklage - Cancer Council Australia
  4. Rob Fitzgerald - University of Canberra
  5. John Vandenberg - Wikimedia Australia, University of New England
  6. Jani Patokallio - Lonely Planet
  7. Rose Grozdanic - Australian Flexible Learning Framework
  8. Michael Coghlan - TAFESA, NewLearning
  9. Kirsty Sharp - Tasmanian Polytechnic
  10. Tom Worthington - Australian National University
  11. Diane Phillips - University of Canberra
  12. MarkDilley - AboutUs
  13. SatuSuro - Wikipedia editor - Western Australia
  14. Chriswaterguy - Wikipedian & co-founder ofAppropedia
  15. Adam Jenkins - University of South Australia
  16. Billinghurst - no organisation - Fri - Sat for parts of days, ?Sun.
  17. Marghanita da Cruz - Ramin Communications - definitely attending all day Friday
  18. Stephan Ridgway - Sydney - Travelling down Friday, definitely attending Sat. and Sun Morning
  19. Robyn Jay - Free
  20. James Neill - University of Canberra - attending all day Friday
  21. Ken - Lonely Planet
  22. Mark Spain