Thursday, November 19, 2009

I'm reviving this blog after a 3 year hiatus

Revisiting the issue of social software

Monday, December 19, 2005

Issue Entrepreneurship … Still Going …

For my Issue Entrepreneurship Project, I had this huge ambition of single-handedly creating an online community that will bring science teachers and other educators together to share ideas. My rationale for this was that most science educators in the developing world do not have access to the most relevant and up-to-date information especially pertaining to scientific facts, principles and discoveries. This forum was therefore to serve as a one stop shop for educators who are both seeking knowledge and also willing to share their knowledge, ideas and expertise.

So I started my ambitious (albeit empty) Science Demystified Wiki and sent out e-mail notices to persons I felt will be willing join the forum. I was however was quickly humbled after receiving a few responses, most of which were surprisingly discouraging. However, after reading some literature - especially Barabasi's book: Linked - and being enlightened on how sustainable networks are created and maintained, I realized why creating such a forum from scratch was going to be virtually an impossible task. The best option for me then was to join an already established network, participate actively and meaningfully so as to gain credibility, and possibly move towards carving a niche out of that network which will then ultimately grow to become a formidable resource as earlier envisaged.

So I joined MERLOT (Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching), and have been reviewing some articles submitted by other members, even though I am yet to submit one myself! In the meantime, I will be focusing more attention on my wiki (which is woefully incomplete) and hope that my interaction with other members of MERLOT will at some point make them feel that a visit to my forum will be worthwhile.

Lessons Learned

1. Creating an online community involves much more than simply having access to connectivity and social software. The issue to be addressed need not be only unique, it should also resonate with the potential participants' thinking and aspirations.

2. Communities formed by "bottom-up" processes - where individuals spontaneously congregate (in cyberspace) and prescribe lines of action - are more likely to be vibrant and sustainable than those formed by "top-down" approaches in which users' roles and activities are determined by an external person and rigidly conceived software mechanisms.

3. The affordances of social software - one-to-one communication (e.g., email and instant messaging), one-to-many communication (Web pages and blogs), and many-to-many communication (wikis) - ought to be used in combination if one hopes to build a community in cyberspace.

4. Still Learning...

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Reflections on Social Software - Q&A

1.  What is 'social' about social software?
The affordances of the software can be harnessed to create communities of social interaction.

2.  How is the notion of community being redefined by social software?
The traditional notion of communities being permanent (and oftentimes, closed) entities no longer hold as communities get created as and when the need arises - thanks to social software

3.  What aspects of our humanity stand to gain or suffer as a result of our use of and reliance on social software?
Sharing of knowledge and ideas has become more feasible, but this is to the detriment of the over 3 billion people on this earth who have no access to computing resources.

4.  How is social agency shared between humans and (computer) code in social software?
Humans use the affordances of social software to enhance their social activities, whilst computer code serves to minimize the constraints of social software to human interactivity.

5.  What are the social repercussions of unequal access to social software?
With a social divide being created where only people who have access to social software will be responsible for decisions and actions that affect the larger society, people who feel left out of this social/technological movement are bound to react, probably in unpleasant ways, to ensure that their voices are also heard

6.  What are the pedagogical implications of social software for education?
The Anytime, Anywhere learning afforded by the internet and World-Wide-Web is redefining pedagogy as teaching and learning activities are being migrated from traditional face-to-face settings to learner-centered online settings.

7.  Can social software be an effective tool for individual and social change?
Certainly. Apart from broadening individual perspectives and as such leading to attitudinal and behavioral change, social software is also being extensively used to organize pressure groups whose collective voice often result in societal change.