BarCamp Vienna 08 – Impressions after 1 1/2 days

Yesterday, the BarCamp Vienna 2008 started. It is the first BarCamp I am attending and after one and a half day I’m trying to put the experience (which was much greater than I expected) in words.
As there is not much time (lunch will be ready soon) just some short impressions/thoughts:

1) Twitter is really a useful tool for such Conferences. Everyone is tagging their Tweets with the Tag #bcv08. You can find all Tweets with that Tag on Twitter Search. Even if you are there and see what’s going on, it’s great to see what’s happening in other sessions or read other peoples thoughts about the session you are attending.

2) The Sessions are not everything. As every event, BarCamp is also a social Event and so there is much “networking” going on. But “networking” in a good & nice way. Soo many different people (Students, Founders of StartUps, People working in the IT Sector, Marketing People, Politicians,…) in one place makes the BarCamp such a great experience.

3) It’s interesting to get to know People you know by their blogs (or even people you “know” already since years through Online Communities) in person. As with many events organized by Online Communites which I attended, you feel like you already know the people you meet in person because of their “online presence”.

4) Somehow (probably because there are so many Bloggers here), by attending this BarCamp you find motivation to blog, you find out how useful Twitter can be and how to really use it. I twittered more in the last 1 1/2 days than in the 24 days before. The motivation to blog partly comes also from the fact that by Twittering for example about the BarCamp you have more attention from persons who before didn’t know your Blog and this way more people look at your blog or mention it in their blog. And due to the fact that I see that people are reading and at least partly interested in this blog, I’m more motivated to write Posts.

5) By attending such a “Conference” with your Laptop, you also change your style of Internet Usage. You no longer just browse randomly from website to website, you “report” about the conference via Twitter, IRC or Blog; watch the Twitter Search for the #bcv08 Tag, reply to people and twitter short thoughts about the Sessions or something else. In between you think what you will talk about in your Session and prepare a Presentation for it in the Evening. I think from now on I will more often take my laptop with me when I’m not at home and try to work with it on interesting things (read blogs/articles,write on twitter or on the blog,do university related stuff,…) and not just stupidly browse around. (There is a Word … wilfing or so for it … don’t have time to find it out now)

So these were my first experiences/impressions, Lunch is ready. Also another experience now after writing this Blog entry in a little bit of a “hurry” you find out that Blog Posts can be written fast. They don’t have to be perfect, better a not perfect Post than no Post.
My Session is at 2 pm in the yellow room, I’m looking forward to it šŸ™‚

Barcamp Vienna 08

This weekend (4th and 5th of October) I’m attending the BarCamp Vienna. It’s my first BarCamp and I’m curious how it will be.
What is a BarCamp: Wikipedia Article BarCamp
More Informations about BarCamps in Austria: barcamp.at

I will try to twitter some of my Impressions of the BarCamp directly from there.

One of the rules of a BarCamp is: “If this is your first time at BarCamp, you HAVE to present.”
I’m not really reluctant to present, but I’m not sure if I know any interesting topic for this BarCamp. The only thing I could present about would be Couchsurfing, we will see, maybe I could present it as an successful example of a Virtual Community, more talking about the Couchsurfing Community and what we are doing and what we could do, instead of presenting what Couchsurfing is about (I think that’s not soo hard to find out anymore šŸ™‚ ).

Maybe someone wants to join forces with me and present something together? Maybe someone wants to give some input?

Let’s see how the BarCamp is on Saturday, I will do the “extension” of the “presenting” rule (“Ok, you donā€™t really HAVE to, but try to find someone to present with, or at least ask questions and be an interactive participant.”) on Saturday, let my first day at an BarCamp “sink in” and then think about presenting again Saturday evening.

Blogging,Twittering and Studying

Blogging is something I feel I should do more often. In the last months I started reading more and more really good blogs and somehow I think I would like to share thoughts/ideas via this blog (or on my new Twitter Feed), but I’m to lazy for it.
Maybe this is also because English is not my mother tongue and it would maybe be easier to write in German. Don’t really know, will try to find out. For the moment I will blog in English.

Some words about Twitter (that I could not fit into Messages with a maximum lenght of 140 Characters šŸ˜‰ ):
Some weeks ago I started reading more and more on Twitter and found it very interesting. I especially like the replies to other Tweets, because you find other interesting Twitter Users and the whole thing becomes more dynamic, more like if people would talk to each other in person.
Then I created my own account,and now I’m not sure about how to use it. Maybe I want to do it more often or not. From time to time doesn’t really make sense.

Studying is something that will also use up some time in the next months, because tomorrow the winter term starts at University, so I will be there more often again šŸ™‚
Tomorrow I’ll attend the Beginners Day for Computer Science Students. Not really because I’m a real Beginner (already had 2 semesters to find out how some things work at the University) but more for the social component. Maybe I’m gonna meet someone I know, maybe some new interesting people, let’s see šŸ™‚

Ohh and I changed this blog back to the standard theme because I just realized that the Fast Lane theme hides all the links … stupid theme, even though it looked so nice.

Update

I wrote some while ago Updates about the progress of my “StudienberechtigungsprĆ¼fung”. So here is another one for everyone interested: It’s finished, since last Tuesday I’m officially studying “Software & Information Engineering”.
After my last math exam around end of June, the last exam missing was the Essay about a general Topic, which I had on the 8th of July.

I needed a little bit over one year for it. And it was a fascinating year. The idea to study, even though I already had the thought to one day do it already a long time, came up as such a small idea and all the exams (also some university exams for the first & second semester) went on so smoothly … I’m really surprised about … about the way all this worked out, about myself, …

So in October I’m starting my first semester as an official Student … till then I have holidays (at least from learning … I’m at the moment working around 70 hours per Week in Prater, which is really funny because you work outside and work with people and even though you don’t earn much per hour have a great time there and see “new working worlds”).

Conclusions

So this is the last entry in the projectlog for my Seminary “Grundlagen Methodischen Arbeitens”.
I will try to wrap it up with some conclusions about the topic of E-Learning & Virtual Communities, partly related to the Seminary, partly non-related stuff that was coming into my head while thinking about these topics.

Seminary related Wrap-Up:

I never thought before that so many people were researching the topic of the combination of “E-Learning & Web 2.0” or “modern E-Learning”.
Slidecasting is one of many projects in this area and I think that with more functions it will be more motivating and of better use for the Students.
But it could also be that the whole motivation by features/rating/membership-levels thinking is idealistic and that the only way to motivate Students is by giving them something back that can affect their grades (e.g. points).
And maybe another point is that some Students can never be motivated to take part in anything that isn’t necessary to receive a positive grade.

Personal Wrap-Up:

Especially the topic of Virtual Communties is a really big topic, which got me interested (maybe because I’m taking part/took part in many Virtual Communites šŸ˜‰ ). There is then also the fact that some Virtual Communites also change to also be Real Life Communities. Even that alone (questions like “how to sucessfully motivate users to also join Real Life Meetings”,”why are some communties so sucessfull in motivating their users to also join meetings in Real Life”,…) brings up many questions which probably were already researched by many people.
Also I found out that Virtual Communties are nearly a 1:1 reproduction of the Real-Life. Including people who work a huge amount of time for the communites, but also the possibillity of a sort of “burn out” syndrom. People are still doing their voluntary work for a Community but did too much, so that they no longer really appreciate to do it.

Invent a Feature for Slidecasting

The last task of the Seminary was to read the Paper about Slidecasting (Exploring the ā€œMassive Multiplayer E-Learningā€ Concept) and then invent and present a new Feature for Slidecasting.

Our Idea was a Feature where you could send comments for Slidecasting via SMS.
The slides of our presentation can be found here.

Why send comments via SMS? Well, 99 % of the Students have their mobile phone in the Lecture, but only around 16 % have their Notebook in the Lecture.
So this could be a possibillity for more Students to make comments during the Lecture.

Disadvantages of this Feature would be that a SMS needs longer (even though not much longer, due to Students often writing SMS). Also even though many Students have a high number of free SMS per month or only pay 1 Cent per SMS, some pay around 20 Cent which is even though it’s not much, more than what you pay if you are using a Laptop and WLAN to make comments.

Advantages of this Feature would be a higher Quantity of Comments, because nearly every Student could make a comment and that the Students don’t have to take their Notebook to the Lecture.
Also we found out in the Seminary, that there could be the possibillity for Students to send in a Slidecasting Comment via SMS or MMS while they are on their way.

Invent a Motivation Strategy for an E-Learning System

The next task was to think about all the Motivation Strategies presented in the Seminary and invent an implementation of one of these or a new Motivation Strategy for use in an E-Learning System, that motivates the Students and think about if it is “fake resistant”, and post it as a comment on the Blog of the Seminary.
My idea (english translation of my comment on the Blog):

ESPECIALLY FAKE RESISTANT, BUT ALSO MOTIVATING
GSI (the Course in which Slidecasting 2.0 is used) is a Course which is about diverse latest topics. Textcomments are interesting, but more interesting would be URLs with further Content to this topics (URLs are especially convinient because they can link to all sorts of Content [e.g. Pictures, Videos, Text …]).
My idea relates mostly to the use of URLs as Content.
Due to the fact, that, while the Lecture, you don’t see what other people posted, it could be a sort of Qualitycriteria how often a Link was posted. Links which were posted by 5 People are most probably more interesting and relate more to the Topic, than links posted by only 1 person.
Eventually it would also be possible to don’t publish the comments in the Slidecasting System for a few days after the Lecture, so that also people without a Notebook have the possibility to post interesting Links without knowing if someone else found the Link before them.

In General I think an important factor for Motivation in E-Learning Systems for Courses like GSI could be, that there must be the possibility to create a comment out of Multimedia Content.

Motivation Strategies in Virtual Communities

Task Number 4 was to read an assigned paper and introduce the main concepts of this paper to the rest of the Seminary.
We had to read the Paper User Motivation in Peer-to-peer Systems.

It is about Comtella, a P2P System for the exchange of resources, e.g. Papers, used at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada.
The problem with the system was that it’s technical functionallity was good, but there were not many Users online and due to this fact not many Resources were found.

The Team of Comtella looked for a Solution to this problem and tried to solve it by implementing a hierachical membership model, where Users get a higher Level when they do more for the Community (e.g. share Resources, stay online, …) and get better Functions with each level.

They implemented this motivation model into Comtella in a testphase for one course. The results of this testphase were that more users used Comtella more often and the Quanity of the avaiable resources increased, but also that the overall Quality of the resources decreased.

Why do people participate in Web 2.0/Virtual Communities?

The third task (even though it’s already a while ago, but I have to finish this projectlog soon) was to find out why people do participate in Web 2.0 and Virtual Communities. To find answers to this questions, we did some literature research in the Internet and bookmarked the pages with interesting answers on diigo.com

So I found the following pages:
1.) Criteria for using Web 2.0
2.) Virtual Communites: What and why?
3.) Motivating Users – Peekaboom and the ESP Game
4.) The Art of creating a Community

The first website lists some Criteria when it can be usefull to “add” Web 2.0 Elements to a Website. Mostly related to business websites, they also list user motivation as a main Criteria, for example by letting the users generate or share content and then do something with all the shared or generated content.
Website number two explains shortly what Virtual Communites are and lists some examples of Virtual Communities. Also it gives examples of what people do in Virtual Communites: Socialize, Work together or have conversations about diverse topics.
The site “Motivating Users – Peekaboom and the ESP Game” is about 2 Web 2.0 Websites, that try to motivate their users to tag pictures/parts of pictures by creating a game around the process of tagging.
The last website describes how to create a sucessfull Virtual Community.

So there are many answers about why people participate in Virtual Communties, some where described above and I think one of the biggest one is clearly motivation. If there is no motivation (in what ever form the creators of a Virtual Community choose), nobody will take part in the Community. While reflecting about this subject and wondering why some people invest as much (monetary) unpaid time as you would work in a part-time job, I found out that Virtual Communities are much older then Web 2.0 is and that people were already active in diverse Virtual Communites (Mailbox Systems, Online Games, Chatrooms, …) before the Web 2.0 “hype”. Now with “Web 2.0 Virtual Communites”Ā  just much more people take part in them. And investing much unpaid time into a Community also already existed before Web 2.0, even before the Internet. Before the Internet (and also nowadays) some people invested their spare time into clubs/associations (in german called Verein). But nowdays with the Internet and newer Technologies like Web 2.0 more people can connect much easier and find people who are interested in the same topics as they are.

About Web 2.0 there is a very interesting video, made by the same guy as ā€œA Vision of Students todayā€ which I posted earlier in this blog:

What could Students do with their Laptops while Lectures?

The second task was to find out what Students could do with Laptops in their Lectures? To find answers to this question, we used methods from the IDEO Method Cards.

The method I used for this task was “Predict Next Years Headlines”. So I asked some students and myself the question: “Try to think 1 year in the future. How could (in the future) Laptops be used usefully while Lectures?”

The results can be categorized into 3 different groups: technical infrastructure at the University, teachers and students.

Technical Infrastructure:

-) Electronic Whiteboards (where you can print out/save the information on it) instead of blackboards
-) Better Networkinfrastructure, more Poweroutlets

Teachers:

-) Create “Hypertext-Slides” (so that Students who look at the slides on their laptop can get more information by clicking on links)
-) Possibility for changing the presentation “on the fly” (e.g.: make additions to the slides in the lecture, make annotations directly on the slides, …)
-) Create Audio- & Videorecordings of the lecture (so that Students don’t have to record it and could catch up on a lecture they missed)
-) Create the posibility of direct electronic communication with teachers/assistants (e.g.: via messenger, irc, mail, …) in the lecture for questions (makes it easier than asking them alound when sitting in the last rows of big rooms). Answers to this questions should be made public because they are probably interesting for more than one student

Students:

-) Use a better software to take notes while in the lecture (e.g.: a software with that you can directly take notes on PDF files)
-) Use IRC chatrooms (e.g.: one for each room or one for each lecture) for communication with other students

These and other results brought up some interesting questions: If there is the possibility for class related stuff you can do with your laptop, how can the teacher still grab and hold the attention of the students? What are the reasons for students to visit lectures?

Interesting questions, maybe we will find some answers to them.

One of the answers to “What are the reasons for students to visit lectures?” was “So that they don’t miss something”. Miss what? Maybe something like this:

Hopefully not only because of such things šŸ™‚

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