KSC Instructional Technology


Social Computing: February 9 Brown Bag discussion

There is a long held stereotype of the computer geek (and I say that with pride) who lives in a dark hovel, shades drawn, with only the blue glow of the screen as illumination. The description hints at someone who is a loner, someone who doesn’t desire the contact of other humans.
Enter the concept of social software and social computing. The average computer user has much more than e-mail at his or her disposal when it comes to communication options. There are news groups, list-servs, instant message programs, Web logging (blogging) communities, podcasts and online gaming to fill the need for interaction. And the vast array of other people using these social software options makes it quite simple to find someone who shares similar interests.

The availability of social software doesn’t guarantee productive or enlightening interactions. Someone who reads this entry on the KSC Instructional Technology forum and decides to leave a comment, whether relevant or irrelevant, is engaging in social computing. Social software, however, does provide a medium where someone can create a productive environment that is accessible to a larger group of people. Social software and social computing is one of the reasons some colleges and universities are offering courses online. It is also the reason why professors at many college and universities are looking to the option as a new way to engage students outside of the required classroom time.

On Thursday, February 9, Psychology Professor Larry Welkowitz will discuss his experiences with social computing and how the available software can be incorporated in an educational setting. This “brown bag” discussion will be held in Rhodes Hall, room S 257 from 12:30 to 1:30.
Professor Welkowitz was one of five faculty awarded a technology grant in 2005 from the IT Group and the Academic Affairs division. He used his grant to enhance his ability to “podcast”, create online audio programs that are easy to download to MP3 players, about his research into Asperger’s Syndrome and autism. Students are required to listen to these podcasts as part of their course work, and the grant helped to supply the equipment necessary so students can create their own podcasts.

Grants were awarded to support faculty efforts in the use of technology in an educational setting. All of the 2005 award recipients will have an opportunity to share their success with the rest of the campus at the Academics in Technology fair scheduled for April. The time and location of the fair will be announced at the end of February.

A brown bag discussion is also planned with Assistant Professor of Education Yi Gong in March.
So bring your lunch and your curiosity to Welkowitz brown bag discussion on social computing in an educational setting on Thursday, February 9 in Rhodes Hall, room S 257 from 12:30 to 1:30.

Find out more about social software and social computing:

New Learning Technologies and Emergent Practices: A power point presentation and Web seminar given by Professor Cyprien Lomas for Educause www.educause.edu/LibraryDetailPage/666?ID=ELIWEB052

Wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_software


  • I'm sorry that I'll have to miss this lunch as I'll be out of town visiting a friend I met through social computing. ;-)

    Yesterday's Sentinel had a frontpage article about iPods & the social isolation some educators fear they cause. Some school officials fear that instead of interacting with peers, young folks are perpetually "plugged into" their own individualized soundtracks.

    It's interesting to juxtapose what Larry Welkowitz is doing with podcasting with the fear these educators have about the technology. I doubt that students are going to give up their iPods any time soon. (I'm certainly not giving up mine!) So then the question becomes whether & how to use the technology rather than trying to hope it goes away.

    By Blogger Lorianne, at 3:39 PM  

  • Lorianne:
    Thanks for your reinforcing comments. Rather than fear the downsides of blogging and using MP3 players in school settings, we (educators) should teach students how to do this productively. You are right that IPODs are not going to go away...so let's use them to our advantage!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:40 PM  

  • Interesting comment Lorianne. I think that some of the criticisms about blogs or podcasts are generated by misinformation. Do a Google search on “blog definition” - notice that they often refer to personal journals or diaries. No wonder educators are turned off! But look at how blogs are used now: student reflections, political commentary, .com businesses are even using them for marketing purposes! As Larry said in his brown bag lecture, blogs and podcasts are blurring the way we get information.

    Here’s an interesting article that touches on the evolution of blogs.
    Educational Blogging by Stephen Downes:

    By Anonymous Jenny, at 8:44 AM  

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