Analyzing TakingItGlobal (TIG

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Elysia Wells, Savannah College of Art and Design, elysiacw@gmail.com Martin Schneider, University of Cologne, schneider_@gmx.de Benjamin Sturm, University of Cologne, sturmb@smail.uni-koeln.de Sven Wittin, University of Cologne, wittigs@smail.uni-koeln.de

ABSTRACT: In this paper TakingItGlobal (TIG), an educational and social networking site, was analyzed in order to discover trends and develop recommendations for the social networking community at large. The project began with a follow-up of a previous team’s research then expanded on the work previously done. This team, COINS 2010-2011, made the discovery that TIG did in fact work effectively to enhance students’ academic experience. The prior team concentrated on analyzing content available from outside the organization, while the 2010-2011 team also included analysis based on internal data. COINS 2010-2011 analyzed information from TIG and joined the web site. This allowed the team to frame research-based observations and incorporate qualitative data into the project. TIG’s stated goal for this project was to use condor as well as coolfarming techniques to identify the latest educational trends in different regions of the world, thus furthering the exploration of connections within the online community. TakingItGlobal.org is a Canadian-based non-profit organization that focuses on promoting awareness of issues and acting as engaging outlets for people between the ages of thirteen and thirty. This international nonprofit was founded in 1999 and is considered a social network. It had 340,000 registered members as of February 2011, and has been growing by approximately 25% each year. The site provides an opportunity to engage in various activities that ultimately drive TIG’s mission. The research was based on three questions: (1) The identification of the swarm and its memes (2) Pattern identification in relation to 2009 vs. 2010 trends (3) The identification of cultural variances throughout TIG’s international network. The majority of the data was collected internally through our access to surveys, user profiles, and communication threads. In particular, our team made use of condor software. By joining TIG’s network each member of the team was able to get acquainted with the organization itself which allowed the researchers to better understand the context of the study. In essence, the team immersed themselves into the community. The 2010-2011 team was able to identify three relevant boards for our educational trend research (EducationBoard, Technology-Board, and TIGed) as well as twelve additional boards related to the entirety of the network (i.e. Environment-Board, Health-Board, etc.). They were all in English, which is a precondition for Condor, our main analysis tool. By doing this common themes were identified in phrases, terminology and language usage. The team divided TIG into world regions based on predefined TIG regions, cultural similarities between geographic areas, and active user networks. It was determined that some regions had much stronger interconnections then the network as a whole and some regions had very weak inter-connectivity. The users of the different networks talked about very different things though all had some focus on education. The team determined that different strategies for communication should be used with different swarms based on their region. 1

COINS 2009-2010, had analyzed the TIG web site in a paper entitled “Identifying and Analyzing Educational Innovation Through Semantic SNA.” by Melina Becker, Gloria Busche, and Dustin Larimer, focusing on students and teachers. The largest difference between the two teams was the time constraints in relation to data collection. COINS 2009-2010 used all of the data between 2001 and 2009 and our team, COINS 2010-2011, analyzed only the data from 2010. This allowed us to compare the results of each team’s project in order to identify global movements as well as cultural shifts in educational innovation. COINS 2010-2011 discovered that the TIG network is in flux. It found that most users were active in limited threads. It was also found that the most active, central users on the network had a much higher awareness of both local and global issues when compared to that of the average user. In agreement with COINS 2009-2010, COINS 2010-2011 concluded that TIGs community is a well functioning network. This means that it has both loose collaborative pockets as well as well-defined COINS. A major problem is that there is a lack of incentive for users to remain active, resulting in the loss of valuable human capital. To solve this COINS 2010-2011 proposes that TIG expand outside of their direct network, reaching out to other social networking sites to engage their users at every possible point. In addition an attempt to retain its early adopters the site should create a reward system for members to encourage them that stay with the site.

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