I presented our work using iPod touches and microblogging to ALT-C 2009 on 9 September 2009. This work was funded by JISC TechDis who provided the iPod Touches through the HEAT3 scheme. The presentation went well (apart from some freaky slide changes brought on by my forgetting to turn off my rehersal timings!). I would guess that we had over 80 people there, which was really pleasing as we were scheduled against plenty of other good stuff. There were some great questions from the audience.
Thanks to Jane Challinor (@virtualleader what a star!) the whole thing was recorded and is available on youtube. I’ve restated the questions below, and provided some short answers to save you watching the video!
The ALTC2009 hashtag has been extensively spammed, was this a problem with the student hashtags?
No. We didn’t have any spamming issues. The students were new to twitter, none of them had accounts before starting the project, twitter is now quite a different place but still wouldn’t be an issue. ALTC2009 was a trending hastag, the student network didn’t trend, so didn’t attract attention and even now wouldn’t be spammed.
What is an iPod Touch?
An Itouch is essentially an apple iPod with wifi capability, prices start at £149, no data contract involved.
In the network diagrams you appeared to have social connectors in both networks were these acilitators of collboration?
Agree that there were social connectors in each network. Friendly tone, social connection was important to them helping the network emerge.
Is there an optimum network size for this sort of work?
Difficult to say, the students that were involved volunteered and were incentivised with the potential of keeping one of the iTouches. Dunbar number is 150, optimum number of people that you can know well. We agreed that there was no minimum size for this sort of network.
The undergraduates seemed to have a level of peer support which was different from the postgraduates. Why?
The two groups of students very different – first years in throws of transition, a lot of social grooming went on with this group online. The postgraduates did have some extended peer support – they were more professional, trading links and resources to support studies. These students were perhaps more aware of public nature.
Was the 140 character limit a problem?
No, students took to it very naturally. Around 50% undergrads still twittering.
Did you ask students to limit their private communications on twitter?
No, we didn’t ask them. We have no way of knowing if they made private communications with each other and we didn’t ask them about this at any point.