Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Wednesday - Brainstorming an Educational Profile Service

I'm part of a working group led by Karen Cator, Director of the Office of Educational Technology at the U.S. Department of Education. The group is focused on online communities of practice (many of which are social networks like Classroom 2.0), the work being documented and extended at the Connected Educators site.

Karen has regularly raised an idea that I find very compelling as well: the creation of a unifying educational profile site that would allow educators and learners to build a profile page indicating their professional and educational interests (work or school affiliation, grade levels, subjects, etc.), allow the building of a set of links to individual information and activity on the Web, and maybe even to "surface" or showcase RSS or content/conversation feeds.

Let's call it ConnectEDU.me. My page would be http://www.connectedu.me/stevehargadon (this is known as a "vanity URL").  ConnectEDU.me might be compared to LinkedIn or About.me, but with a feature set build around education. If there were tags I could use to identify my interest areas, I could use those tags to find other educators or learners interested in the same things or from the same area, as well as finding out where they are participating in engaged conversations. Maybe the site would recommend to me others with similar interests. I could put in my preferred contact and geographical information. I would like to link to my blog, to my Twitter account, to my profile pages at the several Ning networks I'm a part of, to websites or wikis I've created or participate in cultivating, to my YouTube channel, to online or eportfolio pages, to publications, and to anything else that would reflect my work and interests and help me to make connections with others.


Date: Wednesday, June 20th, 2012
Time: 3pm Pacific / 6pm Eastern (international times here)
Duration: 1 hour
Location: In Blackboard Collaborate (formerly Elluminate). Log in at http://futureofed.info. The Blackboard Collaborate room will be open up to 30 minutes before the event if you want to come in early. To make sure that your computer is configured for Blackboard Collaborate, please visit the support and configuration page.
Recordings: The full Blackboard Collaborate recording is at https://sas.elluminate.com/p.jnlp?psid=2012-06-20.1523.M.9E9FE58134BE68C3B413F24B3586CF.vcr&sid=2008350
Resources: The Google Doc for brainstorming is HERE. The MightyBell resource and conversation space is HERE.

I'd love some help in exploring the pros and cons of this idea, and of what it would take to make it a reality (should people feel this would be valuable).  If you're available for a live brainstorm session, the link and more information are just above.  If you're not available, feel free to post a comment or email me directly (steve@hargadon.com). I'm particularly interested in the following (and any other feedback you'd like to give!):
  1. Does it make sense to have a separate site/service just for education? Would this be done just as well at LinkedIn, About.me, Facebook, or somewhere else?
  2. If you already have a personal web presence that serves this function, would this augment or detract from that? For example, my blog already serves in many ways as my "profile site." However, it does occur to me that I don't have links to my profile pages in other networks on my blog, nor do I have RSS feeds from my contributions at those sites--which probably makes some sense to do! If you have a personal web presence already, would you also want a profile page? If you don't have a unifying profile page anywhere, do you like the idea of being able to easily set one up?
  3. This kind of an educator profile page has been done before. In Australia, it was at me.edu.au but is no longer in service. LearnCentral, the network I worked on for Elluminate, also arguably had this kind of functionality at its core--but it, too, no longer exists. Do you know of others? Of those that went out of service, have you got ideas as to why they didn't last? Is this just an idea that looks better in concept than in reality? 
  4. I've mentioned the features of identifying interest areas, of linking to other sites, and of bringing in feeds from those sites to have them visible on the profile page. What else would you want to be able to do or show? LearnCentral also had forum discussions, a content repository and sharing system, individual calendars, groups, and more. It was intended to be a one-stop shop for all educators and students. How important would it be for such a site have all these features, or should it instead be very simple?
  5. Lesson- and resource-sharing sites are being built by many groups right now. How would you rank the importance of content sharing service to a unifying profile site? In other words, is finding and connecting to other people more or less important than finding lesson plans or content?
  6. How valuable would/could this be for students? If students could use the site, would the feature set be different?