Social Software, Folksonomy and more

Joseph Ugoretz writes an extensive essay on the brief history of social software, and how the new environments and tools can be used in the college context to benefit teaching and learning. He describes the new social software tools very well, and makes the interesting point that its not all so new. The google ranking algorithm (invented 1997) was one of the first tools that exploited the communitarian knowledge of the larger social body of internet writers and designers.

It may seem that this kind of (google) ranking will inevitably lead to a kind of tyranny of the popular, where sites that are most important, or most reliable, are displaced by sites which provide a kind of lowest denominator of common knowledge. And that does sometimes happen. But almost mysteriously, an opposite result is far more common. The site which is most appropriate, and most valuable, frequently turns up near the top of the list of the results, so that even a worried father, with the tiny screen of a cell phone and dying battery, can find, in a matter of minutes, the exact medical journal article which the emergency room doctors have not even seen.

Now we have,,, amazon user reviews,,, and who knows whats next?

The essay concludes with good recommendations for applying these tools for teaching and learning.

I’m currently investigating a grant to develop student instruction and orientation to social software as a part of UCF’s Information Fluency initiative.

*The essay is published over on the Academic Commons, an online journal oriented towards technology and liberal arts education.

Steve Sorg retires

My boss of the last 7 years is retiring and moving to montana at the end of the month. Thursday we had the official University retirement reception for him where everyone comes by, has a soft drink and wishes him well. I brought in two of my Makeshift guys, and we sang a couple of corny songs with custom lyrics. It went over great — our entertainment was so highly unusual for this type of event, word has been spreading to those at UCF who were NOT in attendance. Click on the comments to see my custom lyrics.

Using blogs for content management

I’ve deployed blogging technology for a variety of web content management tasks. Blogging is really just a somewhat limited Content Management System (CMS). The major difference is that blogging only allows you to organize content in a linear chronological manner, while a full-fledged CMS is set up for elaborate hiearchical organization and navigation structures. Nevertheless, I’ve adapted blogs in some highly productive ways. For example:

gamalI set up this blog for a colleague on my PTA executive board. He is in the habit of forwarding on relevant items via email, and he was fairly regular at it. I set it up so that he could just email his news items to a special address, and they’d show up as posts. He asked about editing, so I gave him access and he took to it quite easily. He continues to maintain it. This is on blogspot and reflects fairly standard blogging.



occptaThe front page of the OCCPTA website is actually a blogspot blog. In the template, I stripped out most of the navigation and organizing elements, and set it to only display two news items at a time. It makes it very easy to rotate news items on the front page and keep it fresh. Old news items can be found in the archive links at the bottom.



trusteeI embedded a blogspot blog in the website of the Florida Unitarian District to manage the publishing and archival navigation to the trustee reports. It seems to be working fine.



marcusThen there’s the blog I set up for my father’s discussion group for residents and ex-pats of his hometown of Marcus Iowa. The emphasis here is on the reader comments, organized into monthly threads.



afgI first used a WordPress blog for publishing, organizing and archiving the proceedings of UCF’s Academic Focus Group, which responsibilities I took on last summer. Comments are NOT enabled; I don’t need to provide a forum for this contentious group.



efacultyWe’ve just begun using a modified WordPress theme to manage web publication of our eFaculty Newsletter, a virtual newsletter we started last year, and are reviving this summer. Again, comments are not planned to be enabled.



mollynewI’ve been helping our church’s youth choir director in posting rehearsal sound files on her website. Just recently I extracted the content from her wizard-built primitive site, reloaded the content into a blog, and replaced her site with this spiffy look. She loves it, and its easy for users to find things.

Venn Diagram

click for larger versionDo you remember Venn diagrams? Seems they were always covered in the first chapter of my math and geometry textbooks in discussion of set theory. They are also used in language arts to illustrate overlapping concepts or relationships.

I had built this statistical one for work last week (click on graphic for larger version); it illustrates the distribution of student enrollments during one term here at UCF. The circles represent the areas of class types — Orlando campus, regional campus, or web-based classes. The size of the circles are exactly proportional to the data. The overlap areas are a little off by necessity. I drew this graphic in Photoshop. As an information geek, I think its really cool. This will be used to assist higher ups with some funding and growth planning issues.


Katrina Assistance

I had a request to assist an emergency UCF meeting this morning seeking ways to help displaced students. I ran some quick analyses of our available class seats. The state wants us to cut red tape (which I think we must purchase by the cable spool), and we will probably waive non-resident fees.

I also heard last night that Rollins College (of Winter Park) extended invitations to 30 Tulane Univ. students to attend Rollins for the fall term tuition free.

And we thought we had it bad last summer with our inconveniences.

UPDATE: UCF released this announcement thursday afternoon regarding enrollment opportunities for displaced gulf coast students.