Friday, 18 January 2008


Hands-up who's bored of hearing about Facebook?

Well, another day another Facebook dollar. I arrive into work, make myself a cup of tea, chew the fat with Gervase about whether Walsall's game at Bristol Rovers will be on tomorrow, logon and I find a message from Coursefeed about Facebook/Blackboard mash-up. [ Well, okay, it is a Blackboard plug-in, but it's effectively mash-up.]

Before we get to the message, I would just like to reiterate that the privacy concerns raised on this blog in October and November 2007, have not gone away, despite the fact that we are looking at a wider rollout now.

My e-mail told me:

"ClassTop, Inc. announces a free social learning application called CourseFeed. CourseFeed is a Facebook® application that shows students what's new in Blackboard®* (like a news feed) while providing a place for class comments and note sharing.

"Social learning is the next major phase of e-learning and CourseFeed is the first social learning application that enhances the learning experience for students. At schools where CourseFeed is available close to 20% of students start using the application within 2 weeks.

"We're excited about social learning and look forward to working together to enrich the student experience."

So I guess I have got a couple of issues.

1. There are big claims being made about social learning. The next phase, apparently!? "CourseFeed is the first social learning application that enhances the learning experience to students", apparently?! This statement was made despite all the work done on communities of enquiry, and group work, using mash-ups of face-to-face and/or e-Learning tools, which have been going on for decades.

2. Privacy, privacy, privacy, privacy, privacy, oh and data. Read their privacy statement at:

Those issues that we raised last year, have not gone away.

3. Do students/staff actually want this? We discussed this with some students, who were concerned about that there was now, increasingly, no separation between their academic and social lives. They are using social networking for sure, and are using it for informal learning, but they are also concerned about being monitored.

4. There are institutional issues here. For instance, if Coursefeed is acting as a Blackboard RSS feed, what are the network issues?

Man alive, I sound negative. But you've got to ask the questions...

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