Archive for the ‘socialmedia’ Category

Trust and Recommender Systems

April 25th, 2018 by Graham Attwell

One of my favourite social network applications (if it can be called that) is Paper.li. Paper.li is not really a social network but an aggregater,  running across your twitter contacts and serving up a daily newspaper type summary. How the algorithm works is not transparent. But given I have no time to read every Tweet I receive it fulfils a purpose – at least for me.

Two stories in my feed –  rather feebly entitled the Graham Attwell Daily – struck my attention today. One is a link to a longish report by the Pew Internet Center on ‘The Fate of Online Trust in the Next Decade‘. I am saving that one to read and comment on tomorrow.

The second was a link to an article on Search Engine Land about a report yesterday in The Washington Post that “found that the buying of fake reviews by merchants hoping to boost sales of their products is a widespread problem on Amazon. According to the report:

[F]or some popular product categories, such as Bluetooth headphones and speakers, the vast majority of reviews appear to violate Amazon’s prohibition on paid reviews . . .

Many of these fraudulent reviews originate on Facebook, where sellers seek shoppers on dozens of networks, including Amazon Review Club and Amazon Reviewers Group, to give glowing feedback in exchange for money or other compensation. The practice artificially inflates the ranking of thousands of products, experts say, misleading consumers.

The Post says “many of these fraudulent reviews originate on Facebook.” Accordingly, fake review solicitation becomes another variation on the “fake news” problem for the company.”

I use reviews a lot for booking hotels and finding restaurants. And I find my trust in these reviews is sinking fast. I am not sure how much it is due to people deliberately gaming the system. I think a lot of it may be due to the very different desires and perceptions of people when they go out for a meal. Different people look fro different things from a meal out, like different food and different environments. My very unscientific research shows quite pronounced differences in restaurant reviews on Trip  Adviser between people from different countries, and from tourists and local residents. I have resorted to the old way of finding somewhere to eat – to walk around, to look in the window and look in the window. And I am much more likely to trust recommendations from friends than from Trip Adviser, Yelp, Google or teh like.

I am  not sure what if any implications for the Fate of Online Trust in the next decade. But it probably means something.

Are we lost in online space?

February 14th, 2018 by Graham Attwell

Last November I was invited to give a presentation at a conference “Are we lost in online space?” organised by in Belgrade.

As the report on the conference web site says, the conference brought together 48 participants, most from east Europe, and 6 experts in the field of online learning. Participants had the opportunity to learn, experience and discuss about digital pedagogy, personal learning environment, online counseling for youth at risk, the possibility to educate youth workers in the online context, the ability of young people to use online tools when they are used for educational purposes, using games with young people, the potentials of using the virtual reality packages in youth work.

The web site also has video of all the presentations. I particularly liked the presentation on How to approach young people at risk to use the opportunities of online counseling by Anni Marquard, from the Centre for Digital Youth Care, Denmark and on Using games & gaming culture for educational purposes by Uroš Antić from Serbia)

It was a lively conference with a wide range of different experiences and views and some great participatory workshops and activities. It was apparent that at least from the countries represented in the conference, technology is a relatively new field in youth work, but also that many youth workers are ready to engage with young people through technology. However, tools and platforms such as Moodle seemed really not to support the pedagogy of youth work, nor to engage with young people. Youth work is more about informal learning – and ed-tech has tended to focus on formal learning.

There was a quick straw poll at the end of the conference on whether or not we were (still’ lost in online space. Participants were divided – some lost, some not and some not sure!

First cycle of Multimedia Training in Theme Rooms – Part 2: Working with Social Media

December 5th, 2015 by Pekka Kamarainen

With my previous post on the EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project I started a series of reports on the Multimedia Training of our application partner Bau-ABC with the concept “Theme Rooms”. This concept had been initiated by the training staff of Bau-ABC and in my first blog I reported, how we (the LL teams of Bau-ABC, ITB and Pontydysgu) adjusted the concept for the training activities to be implemented in November 2015. This post focuses on the work with the theme ‘Social media’. (Obviously I have more insights into the group in which I was engaged as a co-tutor with a Bau-ABC trainer. Yet, I try to give a comprehensive picture on the work in parallel groups.)

The uses of Facebook – and the importance of getting hands on Facebook

A major topic for all groups working with the theme “Social Media” was the relevance of Facebook and the challenge to get everyone working with Facebook. In most groups the tutors from Bau-ABC were hosting facebook-groups for their trade and the apprentices were actively involved as contributors and readers. However, the groups served more as means for image-creation, enhancing the occupational/ professional  identity of apprentices and demonstrating their learning achievements. Indeed, some of the groups were using a lot of photos and videos, but these were not primarily used to support learning. Yet, altogether, these groups played a role in the occupational/professional socialisation of apprentices and in enhancing their occupational/ professional identity. From this perspective Bau-ABC promoted the use of Facebook via its own Facebook site and via these trade-specific Bau-ABC Facebook groups.

Having said that, it is worthwhile to note that not all training staff was in favour of using Facebook in such a way or getting Facebook accounts for themselves.  Here, we can see several reasons that are linked to data privacy, data management and commercial use of data submitted by individual users. However, it was acknowledged by the participants that the exisiting Facebook groups of Bau-ABC have played a positive role. Moreover, it was recognised that Facebook is the most popular social network used by apprentices and young people in general. Therefore, it makes sense to get familiarised with social media by working with Facebook. Most of the participants had their own (private) accounts or were owners of the FB-group accounts. For those who didn’t have accounts we had a group account for learning purposes. Thus, they could also participate in hands-on exercises.

These exercises were slightly different in the five groups. Yet, they served the purpose to get all participants use a Facebook-account to post, comment and communicate and to share information on events of interest. Some groups put more attention on settings and privacy issues, some more on sharing between individual users and groups. Altogether, these exercised helped to overcome the gap between users and non-users. Some of the hitherto non-users became active users due to positive learning experience in the workshop session.

Getting a broader overview of social media, platforms and networks

However, the aim of the training was not to give all attention to Facebook but to get an insight into a wider range of social media and their potential uses in the context of apprentice training. For this purpose the workshops gave a quite some time for brainstorming and mapping trainers’ experiences on different media. Accordingly, we had some demonstrations on the use of Twitter (less used by trainers and apprentices) and on the use of hashtags (#) to mark search categories and tags. In a similar way we explored YouTube channels and use of YouTube videos in training and in multimedia training.

Finally, after exploring different social media, the participants were invited to fill a table in which they indicated their priorities among social media and for what purposes and for with which target groups they use these. In this way the participants were working towards their personal ‘portfolios’ of social media.

I think this is enough of this theme, for which we dedicated two workshop sessions. Two other workshop sessions focused on the theme ‘Preparing Digital Learning Materials’.

More blogs to come …

The problem with free social software

May 7th, 2014 by Graham Attwell

Over the last few years, we have been doing some great things with free social software. All too often teachers and trainers do not have a budget for buying software or online services. Secondly, free social software allows users to experiment with different applications without having to commit limited funds.

Bur there is no such thing as a free lunch. And that is becoming ever more problematic. Firstly many services are maintained through advertising revenue. These adverts are not necessarily appropriate in an educational setting! Of course ad blockers will deal with many of those (but not all – for instance where the advert is superimposed on a video clip). And companies like Facebook and Google provide free services and applications because they want our data.Ignoring ethical consideration around data mining and the use of our data, there is a further problem with free social software.

If enterprises decide services are not generating enough income, or if business models change, software providers can just close services down. And they do often. In the last year three applications that we have used frequently in Pontydysgu have disappeared. the first, which most people will know about, was Google Reader. At least because of all the fuss, we were alerted to its coming demise and able to download our feeds. The second which caused us serious grief was Blip TV which we had been using at one time for hosting videos. At the time YouTube quality was poor and Vimeo was yet to be launched. Therefore when we produced a number of commissioned videos for the European Conference for Educational Research we put them up on Blip, using embed codes to play them in the ECER web site. A month ago we had an emeail from ECER saying the videos had disappeared. We went to Blip and sure enough there was a notice saying they had changed policy (and I guess business model) and were no longer hosting videos. They had sent me an email going me notice but this was lost in the deluge of emails from social software providers. Fortunetely we had kept copies of the videos and were able to restore the embeds, this time using Youtube.

The latest service to disappear is Slidecasts. Slidecasts were built on top of Slideshare, using a night online tool to sync audio to slides.We spent quite a lot of time making a series of slide casts. OK Slideshare gave us notice and allowed us to download the audio and slide files. But now of course they will have to be synced agin using I guess something like iMovie.

I am getting to the point of not trusting anything to free social software services. Or certainly nothing which I do no0t have a local backup for. But this leaves a big gap in creative tools and services for education.

REFLECT: Community-Driven Scaffolding for Voice-enabled Reflection on the Go

August 16th, 2013 by Graham Attwell

Together with my colleagues, Christine Kunzmann, Andreas P. Schmidt, Graham Attwell1, Elizabeth Chan2, Marius Heinemann-Grüder, Jenny Hughes, Wenlin Lan2, Andreas Vratny and Andreas Heberle, we have produced a short paper for the forthcoming ARTEL workshop on Awareness and Reflection in Technology-Enhanced Learning at the ECTEL conference.

The paper explains the thinking behind the Reflect App which we hope to launch as a Beta next week.

Abstract

REFLECT is a mobile app that promotes a regular reflective routine. It is voice-based so that it can be used, e.g., while driving a car or in similar situations. The reflection session is scaffolded through decks of questions that can be configured by the other and shared with others, who in turn can reuse the questions.

Introduction

Reflective learning is seen as one of the key activity for workplace learning that is most neglected because of time pressure in everyday business. This particularly ap- plies to General Practitioners (GPs) who are on a tight schedule between slots for consultation and home visits. From the need to make learning activities traceable for re-certification, there is, however, an interest from doctors to reflect on learning experiences and to follow-up on learning opportunities arising from everyday practice. Key approach is to create reflection opportunities by utilizing time slots like when driving in the car from/to a home visit, or commuting.

Concept

The key idea behind REFLECT is that reflection support is based on voice interactions, which allows for hands-free operation. Users can record their reflection sessions, and the system transcribes it and sends it to them via e-mail for further processing, e.g., for including in a personal note-taking or task management tool, or a personal portfolio for future reference.

But reflection also needs scaffolding, particularly if it is supposed to take place embedded into working processes like in between home visits. This is achieved through recording the reflection session in the form of a structured interview along a deck of questions. The app reads the question (via text-to- speech) and then records the user’s responses. Via special voice commands (e.g., “next question”), the user can skip questions.

Useful questions for reflection cannot be pre- defined by the app designer, as they are situation- dependent (reflecting on the day/last patient, reflection on a longer period of time, reflecting after a training session) and there is no general knowledge about (i) which situations are relevant, and (ii) which questions are useful for which type of user. Therefore the app is complemented by a web-based interface that allows for choosing decks of questions that have been shared by others, for rating their usefulness, and – as soon as the learning becomes more confident and experienced in reflective practice to define own new questions and to share them with others.

This results in a lightweight and community-driven approach to scaffolding reflection, which also provides the opportunity for maturing the collective knowledge how to best structure such reflection sessions.

System

The system consists of an app to be installed on a smartphone or tablet (the current version requires Android 4.1 or higher – other systems are planned), and a web-based backend. The app allows for choosing a deck of questions, reads the questions to the user and transcribes the responses of the user and reacts voice commands. Towards that end, the Google Text-to-Speech and Speech-to-Text APIs are used. While this voice recognition does not deliver 100% accuracy, first tests have shown that under realistic conditions (e.g., in a car) the system produces a sufficient of quality of the resulting transcript to be useful for the user.

The backend is based on PHP, and users the Bootstrap framework. It gives the user the possibility to configure decks of questions, share them with others, use shared questions from others and rate them.

The app will be available from the Google Play Store and from the Pontydysgu website.

Outlook

As part of the Learning Layers project, this app is planned to be evaluated with a larger number of users as part of General Practitioners’ everyday work practice. Further- more, it is planned to complement the Android app with an iOS solution to cover the different types of smartphones used by the target group.

Acknowledgements. This work is supported by the European Commission under the FP7 project LAYERS (no. 318209), http://www.learning-layers.eu.

August 14th, 2013 by Graham Attwell

The ever resourceful Leon Cynch has announced that L4LTV will be  launching at end of Sept 2013. he says it will be an online niche TV Channel broadcasting fortnightly for six months in the first instance. There are plans to fund the channel through KickStarter campaign coming soon!

Linkedin Endorsements

October 15th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

There have been many discussions in the educational technology community about recommender systems. And there have been a number of projects attempting to develop systems to allow people to recommend or verify the skills and competences of other people.

Now Linkedin has jumped big time into this area. In fact Linkedin has long had a system for allowing people to provide a reference or recommendation for others. I wrote a recommendation for Josie Fraser for her work for Jisc as a ‘community architect’. But whilst some people – like Josie – have been fairly diligent in seeking recommendations, I suspect most people have never bothered. And the old recommendation system required some effort on the part of the person writing the reference. Writing more than 148 characters has long gone out of fashion in the days of Twitter and the Facebook like button.

So Linkedin have launched a new system to allow you to ‘endorse’ people. As far as I know, they have not published how it works. But it seems to be based on matching your self claimed skills and competences to others in your network and then asking them to endorse you.

It is an interesting development but I have serious doubts about its credibility. Will employers take such a one click system seriously, especially given that there is no requirement for you to actually know the prso0n you are endorsi9ng or to have any real expertise for whatever you are endorsing them? Or will we all end up trying to game the system to make our endorsements look more impressive?

Some years ago, the UK government decided that one way to increase peoples’ employability was to send unemployed people on a CV writing course and to help them produce a professional looking CV. The result of course was CV inflation with everyone havi8ng a great CV regardless of their real abilities to do a job. And I suspect that is what will happen with Linkedin endorsements. We will all end up endorsing each other and end up where we started.

Anyway I’m off now to endorse some of my friends.

The great music license mess is stifling creativity

August 1st, 2012 by Graham Attwell

RadioActive Europe project which will work with different groups of young people and adults to develop internet radio and set up a European Internet Radio hub kicks off in November. But we are already working on a RadioActive project in London, funded by the Nominet Trust and I am in contact with a number of projects and initiatives around Europe using using radio and video channels with young people and adults.

One of the biggest problems for these project is music. Well it isn’t music as such that is the problem. Access to music has never been easier. I am nostalgic  for those long hours I spent browsing in record shops, and taking hard choices as to which album to spend my hard earned pennies on. Now my phone has more music than was ever contained in my much loved collection of LPs.

The problem is the licensing of commercial music for streaming over the radio or for use in downloads of radio programmes. And of course many young people want to play their favourite music. It is a form of curation and self expression. From talking to many musicians, they too want their music to be played on internet radio. It is a way of reaching new audiences who might buy their music.

But the licensing, controlled essentially by the music industry (and certainly not the musicians) is a total mess. I ploughed through the UK licensing documents last week to try to make some sense out of what we can and can’t do through RadioActive. And this is what I came up with.

“1. For broadcasts that include non Creative Commons licensed material

a) requires a sign off by whoever owns the music – e.g. a friends band

OR

b) A PRS For Music licence and a PPL licence.

In the case of (b)

1. We cannot offer the download of programmes or files containing any part of any Sound Recordings. This includes Podcasting.

2. We cannot loop the (streamed) replay within a 3 hour time period.

3. No more than

– 3 Sound Recordings from a particular album

–  2 Sound Recordings from a particular album

– 4 Sound Recordings by one particular artist

– 3 Sound Recordings by one particular artist consecutively

Assuming – reasonably I think – that we do not go over 270000 performances per year the 2012 licence fee for PPL’s Small Webcaster Licence is £189.41 (plus VAT).

If we played say 8 recordings per hour this would provide us with 649 listener hours per week.

We would have to provide quarterly a Webcasting Report detailing the total number of Listener Hours (i.e. the aggregate duration that all users have streamed the service), and the average number of Sound Recordings played per hour for the quarter and (if they ask for it) –  a Programme Report detailing all of the Sound Recordings used during a given day’s programming.
We also need to know which countries listeners come  from (via web analytics).

The PRS license is far less restrictive costing £118  for 118000 streams. it also allows downloading.

How could that work? For instance cover versions of copyrighted music can be downloaded but commercial recordings cannot.

So in summary (assuming we purchase both licenses) broadcasters have three options

a) To play friends original music with permissions (obtained on paper or by electronic media)

b) To play cover versions of versions by friends with permission

c) To play music covered by a creative commons license

In these three cases we can offer unlimited streaming and downloads

2. To include commercial music in which case we cannot offer for download but can offer on looped streaming subject to conditions detailed above

I think we should purchase the licenses and then explain conditions to broadcasters to make their decision.”

It is all a bit of a nightmare. Jamendo.com is an increasingly rich source of Creative Commons licensed music (although I am told even this is contested in Portugal). And I hope through the RadioActive projects that we can start recording original music. But themess of licensing is stigling creativity and preventing many musicians from getting their music held. All this in the name of an industry which has spectacularly failed to keep pace with changing technologies and changes in the social ways in which we listen to and share music.

Innovation not adverts

May 16th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

A geeky article in GeekWire notes that Facebook has downplayed the possibilities of future income from their mobile app. the reason being suggested in that users don’t like mobile apps. I think they are right. I have installed several apps because of the advertising.

And although I have pop ups blocked, I use search engines everyday on my desktop computer which provide advertising. The truth is I never see it. But on a mobile it is pretty hard to avoid. This has some pretty big implications, considering that the whole Web 2 and social software thing has been largely been financed by advertising.

A move back to paid for software and services could be a good thing. It is near to impossible for start up companies or small enterprises with a smart idea to develop a business plan. Indeed, most developers I have talked to just hope that their idea will catch on and one of the big companions will buy them. This doesn’t do much for innovation. Indeed big companies have a generally poor record when it comes to taking over innovatory start ups. Yahoo have managed somehow to run Flickr, perhaps the first really social application, into the ground. Google ended up closing down microblogging service Jaiku and I don’t hold any great hopes for the future of Posterous under Google stewardship.

Not only would a return to paid for applications and services allow a better chance for innovative start-ups to compete and to develop business models which allowed them to remain independent but it could allow the development of better privacy controls and quality. The argument that because a service if free, users have no rights is insidious, but without proper regulation is hard to counter.

And finally, it might get rid of all the advertising spam which pollutes the web.

Learning not brands

December 13th, 2011 by Graham Attwell

Amy Gahran has written an interesting article on the slow take off of QR codes. She quotes research by Archrival, a research group that focuses on youth marketing, which surveyed 500 students at 24 colleges and universities across the United States who “found that although about 80% of students owned a smartphone and had previously seen a QR code, only about 20% were able to successfully scan the example QR code they were shown.

Furthermore, about 75% said they were unlikely to scan a QR code in the future.”

One of the reasons advanced for the findings was that the process of accessing QR codes is too clunky and time consuming. So far I agree. Firing up the app and getting it to scan can be a pain.

But I would disagree with another of their conclusions. Archival suggest that QR codes need to provide “content that engenders a more meaningful connection to the brand or product.”

On the contrary I suspect it is just because QR codes are becoming associated with brands and products that we are reluctant to use them. In this respect context is critical. I will not use a QR code just to access some random brand or product web site. On the other hand if the code does something useful (and I know it is going to do something useful) like tell me the time of the next rain or bus or allow me to check in for my flight then I will and do use QR codes. And even if QR codes are thought to be an interim technology towards augmented reality and near field communication the same issues arise.

These findings reflect a growing tension between the development of social networks and services designed for us (the 99 per cent) and those for the one per cent or less of companies wanting to use social networks and advanced technologies for selling brands and products. The problem is that social network and service providers are more concerned with the one per cent than the 99. This has led to Facebook’s constant attempts to erode privacy in order to provide more data for advertisers. Even Twitter, which has perhaps been the most brand free of the networks has launched a re-design which seems primarily intended to facilitate brand advertising.

Such tensions will not go away. Web 2.0 was launched on the back of free service paid for by real (or hoped for) advertising revenue. Yet such revenues are finite. Ultimately we need to develop new and more robust business models which better reflect the nature and purpose of the services provided.

This does not mean there is no future for QR codes and other augmented mobile applications. There are a number of very convincing experiments of their use in education. But where they do work, in a social sense, the context and purpose is clear. And that is for learning, for interaction for creativity, not for pushing brands and products we do not want.

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    Teenagers online in the USA

    According to Pew Internet 95% of teenagers in the USA now report they have a smartphone or access to one. These mobile connections are in turn fueling more-persistent online activities: 45% of teens now say they are online on a near-constant basis.

    Roughly half (51%) of 13 to 17 year olds say they use Facebook, notably lower than the shares who use YouTube, Instagram or Snapchat.

    The survey also finds there is no clear consensus among teens about the effect that social media has on the lives of young people today. Minorities of teens describe that effect as mostly positive (31%) or mostly negative (24%), but the largest share (45%) says that effect has been neither positive nor negative.


    Robots to help learning

    The TES reports on a project that uses robots to help children in hospital take part in lessons and return to school has received funding from the UK Department for Education.

    TES says “The robot-based project will be led by medical AP provider Hospital and Outreach Education, backed by £544,143 of government money.

    Under the scheme, 90 “tele-visual” robots will be placed in schools and AP providers around the country to allow virtual lessons.

    The robot, called AV1, acts as an avatar for children with long-term illnesses so they can take part in class and communicate with friends.

    Controlling the robot remotely via an iPad, the child can see and hear their teacher and classmates, rotating the robot’s head to get a 360-degree view of the class.

    It is hoped the scheme will help children in hospital to feel less isolated and return to school more smoothly.”


    Gutenburg

    According to developer Gary Pendergast, WordPress 5, Gutenberg, is nearing release.

    Pendergast says: “As the WordPress community, we have an extraordinary opportunity to shape the future of web development. By drawing on the past experiences of WordPress, the boundless variety and creativity found in the WordPress ecosystem, and modern practices that we can adopt from many different places in the wider software world, we can create a future defined by its simplicity, its user friendliness, and its diversity.”


    Adult Education in Wales

    Learning and Work Institute is organising this year’s adult learning conference in partnership with the Adult Learning Partnership Wales. It will take place on Wednesday, 16 May 2018 at the Cardiff City Stadium.

    They say “Changing demographics and a changing economy requires us to re-think our approach to the delivery of learning and skills for adults. What works and what needs to change in terms of policy and practice?

    The conference will seek to debate how can we respond to need, grow participation, improve and measure outcomes for citizens, and revitalise community education.”


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