Friday, February 20, 2009

Prototyping with Facebook Connect

Teachers and administrators have been discussing ways to build on the experience of our Digital Native

Facebook Connect LocalImage by SCSpaeth aka k6 via Flickr

students and help them understand issues of digital citizenship. As a district, we have committed ourselves to expanding our use of Web 2.0 tools to support learning and collaboration of students, teachers and administrators. iTeams are prototyping new uses. For example, we have been using a web-based form to collect Activity Logs for iTeams. Middle school iTeam members are using it in some exciting ways: I learned of a spontaneous student-initiated iTeam meeting because they reported it using the Activity Log. So, the process shows great promise but to date, they only use it intermittently. Members also check email at relatively low frequency. But I discovered recently that some students respond to Facebook messages much more reliably than email. I wondered whether we might tap into their engagement with Facebook.

Facebook supports integration of their tools into App providers' sites. Facebook developers have developed a demo application that illustrates some of the potential of this approach. Their app collects running log entries of app users. The Run Around demo also contains several of the elements that Sally and I have discussed. I wondered whether we could prototype the app we have discussed but I know that such development can be time-consuming. I encouraged a group of Stanford students to take an interest in the idea as a project for an e-Challenge project, a social business-plan competition. But they have not responded to my queries. So, what can we do to explore this approach? In the long-run, I hope that iTeam members will be able to take on such a project but we need more time and capacity development.

Since a Facebook development team has developed and tested this app, the learning curve for cloning their app is less demanding than creating an app from scratch. This approach is similar to the process that led to the rapid growth of the Internet in the 90's: copy an html page and revise it to meet your need. Since the approach worked for me during that period, I decided to commit a few hours to trying again with this new capacity.

The screenshot at the top of this entry shows FB tools running on a local host server. While it will require more effort to refine, I got it working with a relatively modest effort on my part. I hope the prototype will help us explain the ideas to colleagues who are less familiar with the abstract ideas and learn better from concrete examples. When we get additional supporters, we can put together the team required to go beyond a simple prototype.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

No comments: