Personal Engagement with Repositories through Social Networking Applications

Technology and learning day

Posted by Nick on June 11, 2008

The PERSoNA section of the TEL Day questionnaire was brief indeed which reflects my grappling with the best way to engage with people on their use (or otherwise) of SNAs.

John Gray at a recent Streamline project meeting emphasised that, in his view, we should be starting by considering peoples’ actual, real requirements before getting bogged down in the myriad of potential technologies and, in a round about way, I think this is pretty much what I was getting at in my last post.

At this stage, however, we chose to present a list – long but by no means exhaustive – of proprietary applications and ask respondents to indicate their level of familiarity (heard of, browse only [no account], browse only [with an account], make comments only [with an account], contribute content [with an account]). My goal was to gain a very preliminary sense of user engagement with some of these technologies in other environments.

I’m not certain how useful this section of the questionnaire was and it needs some careful thought how best to go forward – my initial sense is that once we have a repository and established some prototype workflows we should follow John’s advice and carefully assess what people really need to facilitate their engagement with the repository before identifying SNAs that will provide focussed solutions to those needs. It is very important that whatever technologies we adopt for PERSoNA are tightly focussed in this way and that they simplify and do not complicate the workflow; at the Streamline project meeting the observation was made that wholesale adoption of every available technology offers few benefits and is, rather, potentially destructive to the individual’s workflow.

One observation from the questionnaire that perhaps does merit comment (full results spreadsheet available here.) is that individuals who have higher levels of engagement tend to be familiar with and use a wider range of applications and at a higher level; such a correlation might well be expected but it does suggest, perhaps, that people either use Web 2.0 or they don’t rather then they use a particular tool because it solves a particular problem for them.

Instructive also were some of the comments elicited when people were asked why they did not, in fact, use SNAs:

“Haven’t found one useful enough to me.”

“Time, habit, inclination”

“Lack of knowledge”

“Can’t be bothered”

This last blunt response should, I think, be taken seriously and not dismissed as merely reflecting apathy – is this respondent, perhaps, simply asking “What is the point of these things? What do I gain from using them?” These, after all, are amongst the questions PERSoNA needs to answer.


2 Responses to “Technology and learning day”

  1. […] a summary of the PERSoNA section of the questionnaire see PERSoNA NEWS Possibly related posts: (automatically generated), step by stepVAW and […]

  2. […] statistics gleaned from them. Nicks findings are available here on the projects respective blogs: PERSoNA and […]

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