Saturday, September 03, 2005

Radio, Radio: Social networking Tools

RCA Future
RCA Future,
originally uploaded by Victory of the People.
So you had better do as you are told
You better listen to the radio

Radio Radio: Elvis Costello

I was talking to a group of teachers on Tuesday about eLearning. This is a topic I have been leading session on for some time now and over the months I've adapted and developed what I talk about. Recently I've been talking more and more about tools such as wikis and podcasts and blogs (oh my!). {As an aside, what is the collective noun for these things? My guess in the title of this blog entry is "social networking tools", but that doesn't feel quite right.}

Anyway, for once, I got the timing better than usual and had some time to do more than just say, "Get a blog!" and gave people a quick look at some wikis and podcasts and blogs (Oh, my!). {Sorry, I know that wasn't funny the first time, but I couldn't resist doing it again.} I finished by showing them Last.fm. Now I admit that this doesn't have an obvious educational application, and that since it is still in beta it is a bit flaky, but I really like the idea behind the way it works. Essentially what you do is you tell Last.fm what bands you like and it starts playing you music. You can say whether or not you like what it is playing and it will further refine the music it plays based on your choices and what music people who like the same as you like. It doesn't take long for it to create for you a personalised radio station... and a network of people who share similar music tastes. Brilliant! The only downside is that since the most recent redesign, I can no longer access it from behind the firewall at work. Scunner!

Inevitably, given that this was the example that was supposed to be a bit of a light-hearted throw-away at the end, this was the tool that seemed to provoke the most interest. I showed them my personal Last.fm page which not surprisingly revealed how much I listen to Rush. Out of a group of 12 or so teachers, one was from Toronto (the band's home city) and grudgingly admitted to liking Tom Sawyer, one teacher said she saw them years ago at the Glasgow Apollo (I was almost certainly there too) and another had been at the recent concert at the SECC in Glasgow (and her husband got a t-shirt from Geddy's tumble dryer - I think I hate him! I was miles from the stage and could barely see Geddy and so had no hope of getting a t-shirt). What are the chances of that? A quarter of the people in the room being Rush fans when I suspect most people have never even heard of them. Weird!

So, can anyone come up with an educationally sound use of Last.fm that I could use to justify showing it to teachers in the future? I'd like to see if that was a one off fluke or if the world is full of closet Rush fans.

On a vaguely related note, Daughter Number 2, via her Chemistry teacher, came up with a music link that could be of use in the classroom. I'm not sure about the copyright implications (although I suspect it's suspect) but it is well worth checking out Mike's animation of Tom Lehrer's The Elements song. Enjoy!

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2 comments:

BFU Rector said...

here is a shot.

Last FM is part of the leading edge of the transition from the industrial age to the the network society.

Those that prosper in the network society will not be the vanishing middle class, but the new “Network Class.”

The key to the future is: smaller is better. The old large, vertical bureaucracies are deflating as economies of scale reverse.

Last FM represents the future; individualized and customer centric rather than mass production with centralized design.

Or something like that.

Best,

Allan

David said...

Thank you... I think. I certainly agree with the "Or something like that" bit.

The customisation bit of Last.fm is the thing that makes it interesting. Other sites, like My Yahoo, are trying to do it but I like the natural way you do it in Last.fm. Just click a button to say when you love or hate the music and it adapts to your tastes. Easy!

Throw into the mix tags, neighbours, journals, discussion groups... I really like it. For me, it works better than Launch... and there are no adverts. :-)