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Using microblogging in education. Case Study: Cirip.ro

Using microblogging in education. Case Study: Cirip.ro



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Published by Carmen Holotescu
Article about using the microblogging platform Cirip.ro - http://www.cirip.ro/?lg=en ( http://tinyurl.com/browsingCirip ) - to run online courses and to enhance traditional courses.
Submitted to the 6th Conference on e-Learning Applications, Cairo, Jan 2009
See also http://www.scribd.com/doc/2286799/Can-we-use-Twitter-for-educational-activities
Article about using the microblogging platform Cirip.ro - http://www.cirip.ro/?lg=en ( http://tinyurl.com/browsingCirip ) - to run online courses and to enhance traditional courses.
Submitted to the 6th Conference on e-Learning Applications, Cairo, Jan 2009
See also http://www.scribd.com/doc/2286799/Can-we-use-Twitter-for-educational-activities

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Categories:Types, School Work
Published by: Carmen Holotescu on Dec 01, 2008
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Using microblogging in education.Case Study: Cirip.ro
, GabrielaGrosseck 
Technical University, Department of Computer Science, Timisoara, Romania
University of the West Timisoara, Department of Social Informatics, Romania
 —Microblogging is the Web2.0 technology with themost important impact in 2008, with applications in manydomains, includingeducation. On a microblogging platform,the users can send and receive messages via the web, SMS,instant messaging clients, and by third party applications;the most known platform isTwitter. With a solid experiencein using Web2.0 technologies in education, the authors aretrying to provide arguments for using microbloggingplatforms in education, underlining the advantages, but alsopossible bad points. The article presents a microbloggingplatform specially designed for education, called Cirip.ro,which offers facilities such as live video / audio messages,multimedia objects embedding, private and public groups,feeds monitoring. Some concrete examples are presented, inwhich the platform is used for courses enhancement, forcommunities of practice, but also for delivering entire onlinecourses. How to facilitate such projects, how to integrateother Web2.0 technologies, how to evaluate studentsportfolios and participation are underlined too.
 Index Terms
 —Web2.0, collaborative technologies,microblogging, education, social learning
Microblogging is a Web2.0 technology anda new formof blogging, that let the users publish online brief textupdates, usually less then 140-200 characters, sometimesimages too. The posts can be edited and accessed online,or sent as SMS, e-mail or via instant messaging clients.Usually the microblogsauthors embed theirposts as awidget on blogs or sites.Microblogging enables a real-time interaction betweenusers, using different devices, technologies andapplications [1]. The best known microblogging servicesare Twitter, Tumblr, Pownce, and Jaiku [2]and, recentlyEdmodo. There are also local microblogging systems,very appreciated among Romanian Internet users, likeCirip.ro, Zazazoo.ro and Logoree.ro.EventhoughTwitter seems to be the most populamicroblogging system, recently teachers and students tendto use a special platform designedfor education calledEdmodo.com to send “notes, links, files, alerts,assignments, and events to each other”. Other educationaluses of microblogging can be found in Ref [3] and [8].The paper will describe the facilities of themicroblogging platform Cirip.ro, and how it can be usedin education.II.M
Cirip.ro is a microblogging platform specially designedfor education and business, launched this year in March,implemented by Timsoft, a company specialized ine-learning and mobile applications, under the first author'scoordination. The platform has many educational uses, for information and knowledge management, for coursesenhancement, for delivering entire online courses, for collaborative projects in universities, for communities of  practice, or foreportfolios.Besides the facilities that Twitter offers, Cirip.rocomeswith the following:
Users have the possibility to specify the domainaboutwhichthey will write the notes; this makesfinding microblogs from a specific domain easier, particularly the educational ones;
Creating user groups; pupils, students, teachers cancreate public or private groups(in the private onesthe notes are visible only for members);
The possibility to embed images, audio and (live)video files, presentations, documentsin notes;
The possibility to subscribe to search feeds or tofeeds offered by sites / blogs / social networks – the same as users and groups, the feeds can bemonitored, online, by IM, or by SMS.The interface is in Romanian and in English, facilitatingan international collaboration.Many statistics and visual representations offered by platform are useful for quantitative and qualitativeevaluation.The platform has a few thousands users, an important percentage being pupils, students and teachers.DuringJune 4-18, 2008, the authors developed andmoderated an online course, in a private group. It is aworld premiere, the first online course developed and runentirely on a microblogging platform.In the next paragraphswe will present the first entireonline course run on Cirip.ro, which gave us theopportunity to gain valuable experience and to reachuseful conclusions for the current courses run for differentuniversities or for continuos education.The aim of this course was to find out if microbloggingcan be integratedin the lifelong learning / teaching /collaboration / business / blogging. The topics addressedwere: microblogging platforms, Twitter facilities, Cirip.rofacilities, uses in education, uses in business, uses in blogs promotion etc.
We wanted to investigate:
how to integrate microblogging with other Web2.0technologies;
if a microblogging platform, in particular Cirip.ro,can be used as a Learning Management System(LMS), and if it has the needed facilities to run anonline course;
what are the differences between facilitating anonline course on such a platform and one in aclassic LMS.III.GROUPFACILITIESThe course was hosted and run in the private group
of the microbloggingplatform Cirip.ro.A group has a special section for announcements(
Group News
) -another original element of the platform,where the moderators canpost notes and useful materialsfor the group activities (figure 1).The authors havepublished in the announcements bothnotes on the proposed activities and course resources(mainly tutorials on course topics, with a variety of multimedia elements).The discussions onthe proposed themes were realizedthrough messages sent by the participants in the groupspace. Messages can be sent / monitored online (web siteor CiripFox –a Firefox extension) or as: SMS ( it’s simpleto trackthe group messages via mobile phone); instantmessages; e-mail (daily notices with followed messages,answers, new followers or news are received by those whoactivate this option); it is also possible to send e-mailmessages on Cirip.ro, including in groups.Other valuable options are the facilities to send livevideo / audio messages and to integrate multimediaobjects in the notes, all of thembecoming part of theinformation / communication flow(eg. audio clips savedon a server or vocaroo, audio clips from e-ok.ro, triluliluor deezer; flickr or tinypic images, youTube, seismic,vimeo, veevoor dotsub videos; slideshare, voicethread or flowgram presentations; pdf, docs or spreadsheet filesetc.).
Figure 1. Group news,
Besides discussions and debates conducted by the widerange of messages we carried out a series of collaborativeexercises, which will be presented in the next section.IV.P
Although initially 50 people have registered, 40 of themhave actively participated. The participants were mainlyeducational actors (students, teachers, developers,librarians etc.). They appear in the members section of thegroup(figure2). For each member, the total number of contributions in the group is listed. The
optionshows a graphical representation for the group.
Figure 2. Group Members section(42 members)
There were almost 1100 messages written in the group,approximately 100 after the end of the course. On average,each memberwrote25 messages, which demonstrates aninterested participation, and involvement.The
groupsection (present for any microblogtoo) allows interesting observations regarding the termsthat appear most often in messages, the most active users,resources specified most frequently in messages.In figure 3 one can see the 50 words that have appearedmost often in the last 500 messages.Topics
are interesting featuresof the groups created on the Cirip.roplatform, useful inanalysing the interactions in learning or practicecommunities.To evaluate the participants wehave considered:-number and quality of messages sent in coursegroup-the eportfolio which consists ofpublic and private messages-numberof followers/followings/groups/feeds-number of messages sent to other participants,reactions to messages-direct communication with other participants andother users of the platform.The timeline, network, tagcloud sections of microblogs and groups offeruseful data for evaluation.
ROFigure 3.Group Tagcloud
In this section we offer an overview of the collaborativeactivities carried out during the course, which involved theuse of other Web2.0 technologies. For most of the participants this was the first contact with them, so inadvance helpful information wasoffered:1.
 Puzzle images-
we proposed a combinationword -picture (Creative Commonsfrom flickr)to be associated with microblogs and / or microblogging. Towards the end of the coursethis exercise was redone, to see if the opinionabout microblogging was changed during thecourse.2.
 Acollaborative collection on del.icio.us
createdduring the course, which was enlarged and usedafter the course end.3.
Translationof “Twitter in Plain English” video
,which is part of the
Common Craft Show
collection. Video is posted on dotsub.com,where the transcript was translated throughcollaborative editing a document onwriteboard.com.4.
 Avoicethread object 
with text and audiocomments submitted by members.5.
 Notes on a Flickr image
. Starting fromwordle.net, a resource suggested by a participant-TBD, a tagcloud (fig. 4) with the words thatappeared most frequently in the aprox. first 600messages of the course was generated.
Figure 4. Tagcloud made with Wordle,
 A code of good practice on microblogs
withitems written by the participants using thecollaborative platform writeboard.com.One can observe:the most active members, nouns,verbs, and notions that appeared most often in discussions, participation and also a warm and open atmosphere between participants.VI.
The course promoted values and attitudes among participants as followed in the lines bellow. Above all,through the course we promoted an ambient awareness for „communication, connections, and immediacy in140Characters at a time” [5], seldom seen in other on-linelearning situations:
interestin life-long learning; motivations andflexibility in developing their own educational andvocational route
respect and confidence in themselvesand others
facilitate mutual awareness; responsivenessto theemotions of others
valuing interpersonal relations -to learnhow totake turns in speaking
the course turned into an interfaceto ownexperiences -developing the skills to meet thedemands of social life in general
analysis of real needs and problems(examples:How do I ...? Does anyone know if ..? etc.) and building polls (which are Ciriposphere verbs -themetaphors of microblogging).During the course the participants developed the public part of their microblogs: writing public messages,following and discussing with other users, validating thetopics of the course, monitoring feeds, andbeing part inother groups. After the course ended, they continue toactivate on the platform, communicating and collaboratingwith facilitators and other participants. This is animportant advantage of this platform, the learningcommunity continuing to be active after the course ended.The course has also allowed:
a wide variety of expression forms (voice, video,images etc.) using mashup tools already tested ineducation, for communicating personal anddidactical experience
the applicationof effective and flexible techniquesin usingmicroblogging in education
reversibilityof messages
to builda set of best practices
 promotingpersonal blogs
export microblogsnotes on the blogs
"ambassadors" of ideas / concepts/ events
humor, good mood.There were also:
momentsof inertia (see group timeline for messages distribution in time)
certain technical constraints (do not forget that it isaplatform in continuous development andimprovement), messages without dissipation

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