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BGI Using the Social Web for Social Change Post Mortem

The semester is over and we’ve been asked to reflect on what elements of the course worked and what could use a different approach. Here is my download:

Reading

Whoa! Quite the fire hose but generally very interesting. It was helpful to have the reading organized into pre-Elluminate, required and recommended. I think it would be good to give future classes a heads up at the beginning of the semester that the bulk of the reading is pre-loaded to give people the knowledge to create effective social change projects.

Videos

I love learning with on-demand video. I generally get more out of it than when I have to read something. Plus I can put on a talk and wash the dishes or just sit back and relax and give my eyes a rest.

Activities

I loved the hands-on nature of the course. Even with my 12 years mucking about building web sites and an intimate knowledge of ecommerce and blogging with WordPress, I learned a ton. I’d become somewhat complacent and reluctant to get with the times. Getting a bit of an ass kicking was part of my motivation for taking the course and it delivered. I’m now tweeting, tagging, using delicious and am comfortable making and editing videos. My blogging has evolved and I’m connected with a whole bunch of other bright folks who are similarly motivated to use the web for good.

I think the required learning journal posts were particularly helpful and I hope that other courses will make this a required part of the in-class learning. I learn so much more when I have to read, reflect on, and write about what I am learning in class vs. read and forget.

Guest Speakers

Spocko’s Brain was outstanding. I was very encouraged to learn about how effective he has been in making life difficult for media channels that air offensive and bigoted hosts while keeping his profile anonymous. Frank Lopez’s mashups at submedia.tv encouraged me to get a video camera and start shooting.

Projects

Publishing my first video was a blast. This was a great process and as it pushed all of us into new territory that most of us thoroughly enjoyed upon arrival.

For the social change project I chose to build yesand.tv with Julie Mihalisin. I have mixed feelings about my decision. I learned a bundle about the YouTube API which was great and Julie and I produced something in a very short period of time that could add value by spreading good vibes around the planet. Also great. But In retrospect, the project team was too small. The team needed someone with web design skills who could polish the aesthetics, look and feel and usability. To really fly, the site also needed/needs the attention from someone who can think about how to market it and monetize it. I could have done the later part but not at the same time as I was coding it. LESSON: If I set out on another project like this again I need to make sure that the people on the bus have the technical skills to hit the ground running. If not, consider a different project that fits the skill set of the people on the team.

Conclusion

For version one of a new course, ChristopherA hit a home run. This was one of the most empowering and useful courses I have taken in an academic setting. He is the only teacher I have ever seen who sat in on other classes so he could figure out how to integrate course work. This is something that teachers are evaluated on and he is the only one to have made an attempt to actually do so. Much appreciated. It was great to feel my efforts getting amplified by synergistically weaving material together across multiple courses.

My sincere gratitude to all those who gave so much to this course.

be well
Justin

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