2. Create a Twitteraccount and tweet for a week (Optional activity)
Twitter is a social networking site (that is also referred to as a microblogging service) that enables you to update your contacts on what you are doing at any moment in time. It works in a very similar way to your status update in Facebook.
In this activity you are asked to post updates for a week and find some people to follow. Try different ways of using Twitter – from your personalised homepage (e.g. Netvibes), from your phone, from your desktop or from a Twitter client.
Well we have made it to Week 8 of the programme – this week we will be learning about and trying out social networking sites.
What is a social networking site?
Social networking as a broad term can refer to the entire ‘Web 2.0’ phenomenon, but what we will be focussing on this week are usually referred to as social networking sites.
Many of you will already using sites such as Facebook on a regular basis. Basically, they involve you setting up an online account, and then building a profile to reflect your interests. You then add friends or contacts who can see your profile and interests and vice versa. The next step is to add various applications and join various groups if you are interested in doing so.
Check out this Commoncraft video for a quick overview of social networking sites.
Features of social networks
1. Choose your social networking site
This often comes down to what your friends and/or colleagues are using. However each does have different features/strengths, for example if you are really into music then Myspace is more relevant. Facebook has a more generic appearance, where as Myspace enables you to customise your pages.
2. Sign up for an account, build your own profile, personalise your pages (depends on the service as to how much control you have over this)
As with most of these tools/services – you go to the web page of the service you want to use and sign up for an account (another password to add to your learning 2.0 collection).
3. Add friends/contacts, join a group and add any applications you like.
Some people like adding applications, join every group they can possibly find and send lots of invitations to you. Others just have their basic profile and don’t do much more with their account. It is completely up to you.
Each site has their advantages and disadvantages – if you are not using any of them at the moment, it’s worth taking a look at a couple to see what you think.
How libraries/universities are using social networking sites
There are loads of examples of libraries and higher education institutions using social networking sites in various ways. This could be to set up an institutional network, such as the University of Wales at Newport who have a Ning site up and running as do the University of Bradford, or creating a library catalogue search option, such as the World Cat search for their facebook application.
As the weeks go on we are discovering how many of the technologies featured in the programme can be integrated and enhanced by being used together. So in this activity you’ll be having a go at utilising the technologies from previous weeks (blogs, wikis and RSS) with podcasts and online video.
Activity #1 – Pick your podcatcher and subscribe to some podcasts
In Week 3 you will have created an account with Bloglines or Google Reader and both of these readers can be used to subscribe to podcasts using RSS.
Or try something new and download iTunes and use that as your podcatcher.
There are podcasts on just about every subject under the sun so try and find ones which are of personal or professional interest to you – that way you’ll enjoy listening to them!
When you’ve found your podcast you need to subscribe to it. Look for the familiar orange RSS logo, or you may even see a handy button saying ‘Subscribe using iTunes, GoogleReader, Bloglines etc. Alternatively look for the RSS feed URL and copy and paste that into your chosen podcatcher.
If you need a refresher on RSS then head back to the Week 3 post and activities on RSS, or contact the Learning 2.0 team.
Subscribe to at least 3 podcasts and then get your headphones on and have a listen to a couple.
This week we’ll be looking at podcasts and online video.
What is a podcast?
The exact origins of the term podcast are shrouded in mystery, although podcasting started to catch on around the same time as the iPod so there may be a connection!
A podcast is an audio file (usually MP3) which is distributed over the web. A podcast may contain music, or not. It may be just a few minutes long, or last hours. It may feature one person, a conversation or a panel discussion. It may be recorded ‘live’ or carefully scripted and edited. It may be professionally produced or made by you and me on our PC (or Mac).
The term podcast is now often also used to describe an online video or ‘vodcast’. So you may find yourself watching a podcast, as well as listening to it. In this post we’ll stick to a podcast being audio only to avoid confusion.
How do I listen to podcasts?
The variety of ways you can listen to podcasts is one of the reasons why this technology has become so popular. You can listen to a podcast on your PC, or download it to an MP3 player/iPod and listen on the move.
How do I find podcasts?
Like blogs and RSS feeds, podcasts have their own search engines so you can easily find the podcasts you want. iTunes, Podcastalley, Podcastdirectory, Everyzing and Podomatic among others all offer the facility to search for podcasts, and may also host them as well. But you can just as easily use Google or Yahoo; just add ‘podcast’ as a keyword in your search.
One key feature of podcasts is the ability to subscribe to a series. You can download an aggregator, or podcatcher like iTunes or Juice. Alternatively, because serial podcasts have RSS feeds, you can utilise an RSS reader like Bloglines or Google Reader to subscribe to podcasts.
Can I podcast?
Yes you can! Podcasting, like blogging, is open to everyone as the equipment required is minimal. Got a PC? Got a microphone? Got something to say? Then you can be a podcaster. If you want to know more, check out the activities for this week.
Enough with the audio – what about online video?
The availability of faster and better internet connections, low cost online storage, cheap digital camcorders and home editing software has resulted in an explosion of video online. Content may be professionally produced, like the programmes you can watch or download from BBC iPlayer. But all it takes is a quick glance at video hosting sites like YouTube and Google Video to see that we’re all getting in the act. In fact YouTube’s slogan is ‘Broadcast yourself’ and we do, in our millions.
How do I find online video?
We’ve already mentioned YouTube and Google Video, but other search engines like Blinkx, Exalead and Yahoo offer video searching options. Or you can just add ‘video’ as a keyword in your search on most engines to get results.
Can I YouTube?
You can create accounts with YouTube and Google Video (in fact, if you set up an account with Google Reader in Week 3: RSS, you can use the same username and password to access Google Video.)
An account allows you to upload your own videos to these services, as well as create favourite lists, set up RSS feeds etc.
If you’ve bought a PC or a Mac recently you’ll probably find digital video editing software like iMovie and Windows Movie Maker pre-loaded; ready and waiting for you to create your masterpiece.
The L20 team has a YouTube account and we’ve loaded the short video tutorial we made on setting up your blog.
As you can see the quality isn’t great as the tutorial wasn’t created for YouTube – but it demonstrates how easy it is to join the online video club.
What’s in it for libraries?
Podcasts and online video provide a new medium for libraries in teaching, learning and marketing services to students and staff. Libraries are increasingly using these technologies to complement and supplement printed guides or face to face contact.
Take a look at the Imperial College online lecture page. By using podcasts and video the College is opening up these lectures to everyone – not just the people sitting in the lecture theatre. Many departments are now recording lectures and making them available as podcasts.
The library dipped its toe into the podcast waters last summer and created an audio library induction.
Click play to listen.
More podcasts are planned for the new academic year; there are more details about this on the intranet.
To see how other libraries are using podcasting visit the Library Success Wiki which has a long (mostly US based) list of library podcasts.
Over this side of the pond Cardiff University Information Services worked with the student radio station to produce a six part series on essay writing.
Librarians are also using online video, mainly in the form of screencasts which capture the activity on your PC monitor. Screencasts are particularly useful for demonstrating online resources such as databases. The L20 video mentioned above is an example of screencasting.
As there’s such a variety of options this week – we haven’t always given you more than one activity in each section, as there will be enough there to keep you going and hope that this may give you time to explore some other areas too.
Set up your own personalised homepage in iGoogle, MyYahoo, Netvibes or Pageflakes. Add some (gadgets, widgets, flakes, modules) including (if possible) one of the tools you have discovered so far in the Learning 2.0 programme (such as an RSS feed, your email account, your del.icio.us bookmarks, your Flickr photos).
If you want some extra guidance on setting up your homepage check out these videos:
1. Blog about what you think the potential is for providing services via mobile phones to library users in the next couple of years. Next, find out about how one of the technologies you have learned about so far in the Learning 2.0 programme is being provided via mobile phone.
2. Take a photo with your mobile phone and upload it to your blog. As an optional extra try looking at a website via your mobile phone and blog about the experience (and it’s success or failure).
1. Go to Google docs and sign in with your Google account details (if you haven’t already got a Google account, you will need to create one).
2. Create a new document or upload an existing document.
3. Share this document with others – ask them to make changes to the document.