Tag Archive for social media

Say That to My Face?


(img: forum.xda-developers.com)

A common concern of Digital Citizenship and online bullying is that many people view the “culture of the Internet” as one riddled with negativity and behavior that’s anti-social (if not outright sociopathic). The trolls and “lowest-common-denominator” debates that run below your favorite news site or online magazine scare away many teachers from using online publishing, forums or discussion boards in class. Why is it that behavior norms are so different online? An interesting structure came through this morning from 99U: “Born Hatin': Why Some People Dislike Everything.”

Psychologist John Suler proposed what is perhaps the best known analysis of the phenomenon in the Online Disinhibition Effect. It lists six primary factors as to why we may treat others differently online than we do in person:

  1. You don’t know me. Anonymity protects the critics “real life” reputation and shields them from retaliation and owning their actions.
  2. You can’t see me. Face-to-face interactions tend to have more empathy because we can see the person we are engaging with. It’s hard to feel ashamed when you don’t even know who’s affected. You’re just a screen to me, not a person.
  3. See you later. I don’t have to deal with your instant response, or even wait for it! I can dump my thoughts on you and never return.
  4. It’s all in my head. Suler argues that online interactions can distort reality. I can make up whatever attributes about you that I want, justifying my actions.
  5. It’s just a game. The overused response of critics who do sometimes get called out: “It’s just the Internet, man!”
  6. Your rules don’t apply here. This is the internet, where closing out a live chat isn’t rude, despite the fact that leaving in the middle of a conversation would be rude in real life.

Being able to lay these out for students could open up lots of interesting ways to engage with the norms of digital culture– role-playing, for example, or acting out example comment threads could be a great way to confront the gap between online speaker and listener (albeit a bit dangerous– manage this activity carefully). Using imagery or posters to create responses or counter-arguments to these points could form the basis of a school digital citizenship campaign.

These rules aren’t just about being online, though– I see some of these in play on a regular basis in the interactions between bike commuters/cyclists and drivers, for example (which got a great treatment in this Norwegian public safety video). Furthermore, the article presents this theory in context of a larger finding: some people are inherently “likers,” who are more inclined to respond positively to new ideas, while some are inherently “haters” who will find a reason to rate things negatively. “It paints a very clear picture: no matter what you create, a small group of people will hate it, often without reason.” This is another, equally important lesson at the root of all culture and society, digital or face-to-face: You manage your own behavior, and accept that you can’t be responsible for how some people act. The balance is to accept meaningful, productive or informed critique while recognizing and discarding the trolls and haters.

Do Suler’s six factors translate to your observations or experience with online publishing and discussion? Can you see a way in which you might want to use these as a coaching tool with your students? How do you coach giving and receiving online feedback? Join in the comments below!

The Boss, 57 Channels, Sushi, and Personal Knowledge Management


I remember a conversation my parents had when I was a teenager about the television. I don’t remember the setup, but I do remember my mother bemoaning the fact that, in essence, “There was fifty-seven channels and nothin’ on.” Because the TV served so much garbage, she believed, the TV itself was garbage (I’m oversimplifying, but I don’t think mis-characterizing). My father’s indignant response: “We have the History Channel now! Discovery!” In essence, he focused on the needles of specialized, targeted content amongst the haystack of generalized, least-common-denominator entertainment.

I relive that conversation nearly every day in the context of the Internet’s role in schools and classes, and I believe it’s one of the most important critical understandings of learning in the Internet era. When teachers disregard the Internet as a source of learning, or only allow certain “pre-approved” sources of content, the reasoning almost always comes down to either fear of or experience with students:

  • Using weak sources
  • Wasting too much time trying to find good sources
  • Getting off-topic

I think the underlying assumption is that the Internet is a faster, bigger, louder and more obnoxious version of Bruce’s TV: “A message came back from the great beyond: there’s fifty-seven channels and nothing on.” If we follow this belief to the extreme, we get policy decisions which reflect a view of the Internet as 99% “low-grade” rather than 1% “high-grade” learning potential. Blocking YouTube, social media and limiting the ability for students to email outside of their school/district are prime examples. YouthBeat conducted a survey of their readers and revealed (unsurprisingly) a wide range of opinions about the usefulness of the Internet, but the part most interesting to me was how hard it was for parents to come to terms with the blessing and curse of student access:

With the exception of a few, most parents temper their critiques of the Internet with an acknowledgement of all the ways that the Internet has served their children well– helping them explore their passions, efficiently and effectively complete homework, play stimulating and challenging games, and more. And for many, it’s not a matter of being ‘good’ or ‘bad,’ but how they can make the most of it for their children…

–Youthbeat.com, “Changing the Conversation about Internet Safety

You know why the Boss couldn’t find anything on his 57 channels? He was flipping channels “round and round till half-past dawn.” Even the History Channel has gone weird in the middle of the night. Skills, context and guidelines matter for successful information management. Thankfully, they’re a whole lot easier with social web tools. Would Bruce have taken the .44 to his TV if he had On Demand and streaming video?

I’ve written before about a couple of the different models of Personal Knowledge Management that are floating around the education world. I believe that while they all phrase things slightly differently, looking at models of networked learning have three common threads:

  1. Input. An active gathering and filtering of information or expertise from diverse sources.
  2. Processing. Creating a personal knowledge construct based on those unique inputs, as processed by the individual learner.
  3. Output. Demonstrating the knowledge construct in order to a) prove understanding, mastery or skills, b) contribute to the further advancement and communal knowledge base, and c) subject ideas to the rigor of communal discourse and public review and ensure that they hold up (or continue to evolve them based on new input)

The metaphor often used to describe Information Management with online networked learning is “drinking from the fire hose”– the idea that there’s a deluge of information and you’re trying to capture some of it while not getting blasted down the street. I’ve started playing with a new metaphor:

Conveyor Belt Sushi (wikimedia.org)

At a Conveyor Belt Sushi restaurant, there is a constant stream of food moving past you. You observe what is being offered, make some intentional choices about what you want to eat (which sometimes involves trying something new which looks interesting) and build your menu around your preferences as well as the offerings available. Sometimes you can make a special request if you want something that isn’t coming around. All of this is happening within many different contexts: families having evenings out, dates, business travelers networking, and more.

The first time you go to a Conveyor Belt Sushi restaurant, it’s a little odd. It takes a little orientation to figure out how to do it. Sometimes, you eat too much, or you get frustrated waiting for something particular to come along. Sometimes you don’t know how/where a restaurant serves beverages since they aren’t coming on the belt. Eventually, though, you figure out the context of this different method of serving. Like I said– the metaphor is still under construction. The key message, though, is that if you walked in, sat down and grabbed the first three things that came down the line, you’d get a mixed-bag. You might not enjoy your experience very much. You might decide that these restaurants were a horrible way to eat. You might go hungry because you wouldn’t want to grab the next dish blindly, but you wouldn’t know where to go next.

You need Conveyor Belt Sushi Management Skills–the guidelines which help you operate successfully in that context.

Recently, Harold Jarche put out a challenge to show your PKM workflows. In the next few days, I’ll show my workflows and the tools that I use, but also discuss these three key stages (input, processing, output) and how to apply them to classroom settings. I hope to do so in ways that can be introduced to existing classroom structures without requiring radical curriculum/classroom redesign (although there are certain underlying assumptions about many classroom structures which PKM directly challenges. Some conflict here is unavoidable). Along each stage, I look forward to hearing the tools, processes or resources which are helpful to you in the same vein!


ChoralTech: Advertising Concerts, Social Media and Streamlining


(fredcavazza.net via Flickr)

Cross-posted 1/24 at ChoralNet

Do you use social media outlets to advertise your events? It’s a simple goal to advertise our concerts and fundraisers using social media, but unpacking all of the terms, strategies, services and options available can become a full-time job, and one that seems very far removed from the rehearsing which we’d prefer to be doing. Nevertheless, either we, or someone else in our organization, should be able to use some basic services to help spread the word about our upcoming events.

The Basics

At the least, every organization should (in my humble opinion) use Facebook and Twitter to distribute concert information. There are myriad examples of how organizations do this, but I suggest a quick look at San Francisco Girls Chorus and Choral Arts as examples of organizations sharing information via Twitter, and The Choir of St John’s College (Cambridge) and The Bach Choir for examples of Facebook Pages. These are far and away the two services which have the most reach and through which you can have the highest percentage of your audience “passively” subscribe to you. There are others as well which you may use personally or have heard of: Google+, YouTube, Instagram, or LinkedIn among others. I’d suggest, though, that each social network attracts a different speciality or subset of the population, and we may use these personally to share information with friends or to subscribe to people in whom we have an interest. When publicizing our groups, on the other hand, we want maximum reach for minimum effort, which is why I’d suggest Twitter and Facebook as your mass communication media.

I’m Only Going to Say This Once!

Even with just having two accounts, though, repeating efforts is miserable. Nobody likes repeating themselves, and broadcasting the same announcement twice (once on Twitter and once on Facebook) isn’t a good use of time. If you use more than one social account, find ways to link them together. You can, for example, link your Facebook and Twitter accounts to that your tweets automatically appear on your Facebook page as well. Also, if you make use of many accounts (for example, your own Twitter account as well as your choir’s), you may want to sign up for a service such as HootSuite. HootSuite lets you subscribe to many different social media accounts, read them all from one place, and post to multiple places simultaneously. Think of it as the social media equivalent of being able to access all of your email accounts in the same mail program.

It’s Called A Conversation

One of the most crucial mistakes that people new to social media make is thinking about it like an email newsletter: you send information out, audience reads it. Remember that the whole point of social media is that it’s easy for people to speak back to you– don’t forget to check your account every once in a while! If someone replied to an announcement you made, you should reply back to them. After all, it’s only polite to respond when someone wants to talk about your group! Even better, if you are setting up a group account that will have little to no activity outside of announcing concerts throughout the year, make sure that you turn on email notifications in your account settings so that you will receive an email when anything happens with your account. That way, you won’t have to check the accounts manually, but rather you’ll get an email when anyone is talking about your events or posts.

What to Share?

Both Facebook and Twitter make it easy to share video and pictures with your postings. If you’re announcing a concert, throw a picture of the poster up with the post for a catching visual. If the poster isn’t done yet, have a choir member (or dropping-off spouse or parent) take a quick picture of the group warming up. Of course, the true gold would be to have a 30-second video clip of one of your pieces as a “teaser,” but that’s a tiny bit more time-consuming. If all you have is text, share the text, but it’s pretty easy to find some type of picture or multimedia to include with your posts.

Your Musicians are your First “Followers”

Once you have an account, you need to let people know about it! Posting a link on your blog or webpage is obvious, as is making sure that your Twitter and Facebook accounts are listed in the program. The reason that social media can be helpful to your advertising is that it is so easily shared, so to get those crucial first few followers, turn to your musicians. After all, they have a vested interest in packing the house too! Ask your musicians to follow the organization’s accounts, and tell them when concert announcements are going out in case they miss them. That way, they can share your announcements with all of their friends and family with one click. Obviously, those of us working in school settings need to check with our administrations regarding policies about communicating with students via social media, but make sure to clarify that you are a) using an organization account, not your own, and b) strictly disseminating information regarding the choir ensemble.

Beyond the Basics?

How do you use social media tools to advertise your concerts or events? To do use anything besides Facebook and Twitter? Have you noticed a difference in attendance/tickets since using social media? Anything to share below?