Posts Tagged ‘TECH621’

I’m really excited to teach the graduate social media research seminar again this Fall – TECH 637: Research Focus: The Social Internet.

In Fall 2013, the course will be offered Monday evening from 6-8:50 pm.

Each week, we read and discuss research about core social media topics such as: Internet culture (lolcats!), online communities, crowd sourcing, online identity, attention and distraction, etc. Students’ grades are based on social media immersion (tweeting, blogging, experimenting and reviewing services), article analyses, and an original research paper on a topic of their choice. Last year’s syllabus is embedded at the bottom of this post.

The course is open to all students at Purdue and usually enrolls an interesting and diverse group of people. No technical expertise required.

This is what students who took this course in the past had to say about it (taken from anonymous course evaluations):

The informal operation of the class helps to support an environment of participation and collaboration. I felt like classmates were really my teammates in the learning process.

Prior to enrolling in TECH 621, The Social Internet, I had not received formal education on how to effectively design and carry out a research project at the graduate level. Dr. Vorvoreanu’s course structure not only introduced me to these important aspects of graduate education, but also enabled me to develop my first-ever research paper on society’s use of emerging, Web-based communication technologies. I now look forward to submitting my paper to an upcoming high-tech conference.


Because of this course, I feel ready to undertake new research endeavors in both my academic and professional career. It is my hope that Dr. Vorvoreanu continues to offer her students practical, hands-on research experience.

I really do like the implementation of Twitter into classroom assignments and learning. It was not only epicly awesome, but social media as a whole is something that is going to play a big part in the future of companies development. Though me, as well as other classmates, were not a fan of Twitter to begin with, Dr. V’s assertion of using the media outlet lets one respect how powerful, and helpful it is for not only classroom purposes, but business potential as well.

Finally, I enjoyed how this technology class can be adapted to fit the needs of any student from any department on campus! I hope that you continue to allow the final project and class presentation topics to be selected by the students.

She talks about a fountain of learning and encourages open discussion. I feel like I learn a lot more out of it when the thoughts of myself and others are free flowing. Her readings she assigns are also current to the medium we are studying, nothing it outdated.

Dr. V is a wonderful instructor and always willing to help students in any way possible. She was able to find a good balance of knowledge about social media that wasn’t too challenging for the beginner students, yet introduced new topics to students with quite a bit of experience in social media.
Also, I really liked the lessons about how to effectively read a journal article in a short amount of time. This is something I haven’t been taught in my previous two years of grad school.

If you took this course and would like to comment below, please help others decide whether this course is for them. You can do so by sharing your opinion of the course and/or answering questions such as:

  • what kinds of students should take this course? what majors?
  • looking back, do you think this course helped you? why? why not? how so?
  • what advice do you have for students who want to succeed in this course?

If you are a graduate student interested in this course and have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Looking forward to seeing you in class,

Dr. V

Hey, Facebook: Relax

Posted: September 19, 2011 in Food for thought
Tags: , , ,

[cross-posted from PR Connections]

Facebook has a pattern of innovation by (knee-jerk) reaction. The newest Facebook feature? The Subscribe option.

Here is why it sucks, and here is why innovation by knee-jerking is a bad idea, and unnecessary, especially for Facebook.

Facebook is, by far, the SNS market leader.

SNS adoption

As market leader, it is unnecessary to freak out and patch-up your product with random features, in an effort to compete with Google+, Twitter, Foursquare, Instagram, etc. You’re in no danger. You can afford to think and be strategic about what features you add. You’re not going to lose market share to Google+ overnight. SNS migration is slow, and for so many people, FB is mainstream, it’s become a habit. Early adopters may migrate, but the majority will stay put.

Speaking of the majority: All these new features confuse them. They don’t know what Google+ is. They have heard of Twitter, but it is more foreign to them than Romania. They know exactly what they use Facebook for, and they are happy seeing what the crazy cousin is up to, and sharing photos of the baby with extended family. I bet you the majority, which form Facebook’s biggest market and ARE its strategic advantage, can’t keep track with all these innovations and don’t even understand them. So, by adding new, confusing, features, you’re confusing your main market. Bad idea. I do informal research whenever I present to student groups. I ask them if they’re aware of and use certain (new) Facebook features. They’re not. And these are your Digital Natives. If they can’t keep up, how about auntie Mae?!

As MacManus points out, Facebook started off as a private social network. This IS was Facebook’s strategic advantage. As Facebook adds Google+ and Twitter-like features, it loses its strategic advantage and its definition. What is Facebook these days, exactly? What does it want to be – besides “the biggest, most popular SNS in the Western hemisphere”? A product without a unique proposition is diluted, confusing. Rather than trying to be everything to everybody, I think Facebook should step back to search and find its soul (too late for that) defining, unique proposition. The danger of knee-jerk responsive innovation is that you dilute a product and forget its strategic advantage and position in the marketplace. Rather then be Google+ AND Twitter AND Foursquare AND Instagram, Facebook should figure out what it is and what it is not – and how it is different from all of the above. From the market leader position, it can afford to relax and think strategically.

* Image captured from a slideshare presentation about social media adoption and uses around the world:

Coordinate and prepare presentations about social media adoption and uses.

Students or student teams will create & deliver the presentations. You need to make sure all the following topics are covered:

  • Social media adoption
    • in the U.S.
    • internationally
    • at the individual level
    • at the organizational level (Enterprise 2.0)
  • Social media uses
    • in the U.S.
    • internationally
    • at the individual level
    • at the organizational level (Enterprise 2.0)

This does not necessarily mean you will do 8 presentations. You can combine and organize topics as you wish. You also need to determine the order in which you present, so that class flows logically.

Some resources for this presentation are available on Blackboard. Other resources are available on delicious. As you find reports and statistics, please bookmark them on delicious and tag them with the following two tags: “TECH621” and “report” – in addition to whatever other tags you wish to use.

Please find and bookmark 1-2 useful reports as soon as possible.

To coordinate and organize the presentations, you will use Twitter. Please check often and respond/participate. You cannot use email or phone to organize this class. You may meet or use whatever communication means you wish to prepare the presentation itself.

The presentation will be graded out of 3 points. All team members will get the same number of points, unless you notify me of any issues. As I evaluate your presentation, I will look for the following:

  1. Content is informative and interesting.
  2. The source and methods (including sample) are explained. Statistics without information about the samples they come from are meaningless.
  3. Presentation is clearly organized.
  4. All content on slides is clearly visible (one topic per slide; limit the amount of text)
  5. Sources are cited as information from them is used.
  6. Presentation style is coherent, well organized, loud enough, and professional.

Questions about this assignment? Please ask in the comments below.

Whether you realized it or not, we learned a lot during the first week of class.

If you need some help or reminders with:

  • using Google Reader
  • understanding blog terms (post, page, permalink, and more: comment, trackback)
  • an overview of the WordPress dashboard as it looked like some time back, and/or
  • help creating a new blog post in WordPress

Please see these tutorials I created for students just like you. Of course, you can also learn how to get started directly from WordPress – and here is a good Twitter guide book from Mashable (a social media blog you should be following).

If you need help with Twitter, please see these posts I wrote for students just like you 🙂 You can browse the posts tagged “Twitter” by clicking the word “twitter” in the cloud tag on the left side bar.

We ended class with a to do list for you. I am sure you have everything in your notes, but just in case, here it is again:

  1. Set up your blog. You can use your real name or a pseudonym. Post your blog’s URL in a comment on this first post about class.
  2. Set up your Twitter account. Write your bio, customize your picture (avatar). Say hi to me on Twitter by sending a tweet that begins with @mihaela_v. Include the characters #TECH621 in your tweet. So, you can type a tweet such as: “@mihaela_v Hi, I’m on Twitter now. #TECH621”
  3. Do the readings and assignment for next week. See the syllabus. Readings are on Blackboard. You can collect the 20 social media sites on your blog. Just have them available in class. Print the list out or bring your computer. Each item on the list should include a brief description of the site. For example: Reddit.com – social news; Spotify.com – music listening/sharing.
  4. Subscribe to this blog. You can start by email, but I recommend you figure out Google Reader. Also, you may look into making iGoogle your home page. Here is what mine looks like, after I customized it with the widgets I need most:

iGoogle screen shotQuestions? Please let me know in the comments below.

Please see below information about your final project. Upload on Bb.

Ask questions in the comments below.

ATTENTION: the final project is graded out of 12, not 10, points.

Below are the slides my students used in their brief presentations of their final projects. They can give you some idea of what topics and questions they researched using Radian 6.

Your Methods section should describe the specific procedures you used to:

  1. collect the data
  2. analyze the data

This blog post provides details about these two sub-sections that I expect to see in TECH 621 final papers. The details are specific to the research tool you used, in this case, Radian 6:

Data Collection
  1. State that data was collected using online monitoring service Radian 6. Provide a brief description of Radian 6 as well as all the widgets that you use. Don’t assume readers know them. Write the paper as if it were a conference or journal publication (some of them will be) – write so an audience who is not familiar with R6 understands exactly what you did.
  2. Describe all the procedures you used to identify and collect your data. How did you select your final data set? Specify: A) search terms; B) date range; C) language; D) region.
  3. Explain what you did to ensure that irrelevant data is filtered out of your data set. How did you filter out spam? How did you filter out posts that included the key words, but were not relevant to your topic?
  4. If you narrowed down your data set, explain every single decision you made. For example, after seeing the topic trend for a month, you see that there was more conversation during a particular week. Then you decide to focus only on that particular week. Within that particular week, you see that most of the chatter was on Twitter. Then, you can decide to focus only on Twitter for that particular week. It is fine and desirable to narrow down your scope this way – but you have to have good reasons behind every single decision.
  5. Once again, make sure you explain what the individual widgets do – and even what a widget is. Do not assume readers are familiar with them!
  6. For some students, even the final, narrowed down data set is too large to work with. In this case, if you want to perform manual content analysis, you need to draw a probability sample of items and only analyze those. I recommend stratified random sampling.Make sure you use a randomizer engine or random number generator (available at random.org) to draw a probability sample from each one of your groups/strata – in your case, days.
  7. Finally, describe your final data set. How many messages, from what media types, across what period, language, and region. We need to know, in exact detail, what was the data set that you performed your analyses on.
Data Analysis
  1. Explain, step by step, what you did to the data in order to derived meaning from it. Provide our reasons for every single decision.
  2. Avoid saying “I analyzed the data.” – what kind of analysis did you perform? Name it, cite it. If content analysis, then briefly explain your procedure and cite a source. One substitute or, preferably, addition to content analysis that I found is to pull up day-by-day or even hour-by-hour conversation clouds. The change in words provides a story about how the conversation topics changed.
  3. I understand that it may make sense to include some of this information with the results, in the Results section. That is fine. In this case, provide a general overview of data analysis methods in the Methods section, and provide details for each analysis along with the results of that analysis.

So far, all the draft I have seen need to follow this advice. Please do, and let me know if you have any questions. Also, I’d appreciate seeing feedback that you read this post. Please comment, like it, or assign a star rating below.

Dr. V