Tag Archives: social networking

What’s in a name? Let’s Huddle!

It’s more than just a social gathering


On my travels through the blogesphere (looking for something else as it happens), I came across Huddle. Now the name intrigued me because of what it brought to mind.

One definition for huddle is “to gather together privately to talk about or plan something”. I often use it when facilitating in a classroom asking the group to ‘huddle’ around the flip chart to discuss a topic.

The people at Huddle describes it as follows: “With Huddle, you can manage projects, share files and collaborate with people inside and outside of your company, securely. It’s available online, on mobile devices, on the desktop, via Microsoft Office applications, major business social networks and in multiple languages. Simply: if SharePoint was built today, the would have built Huddle.”

Taking a further look around the website, it seems it has a lot going for it to encourage people to work together and learn together more easily and, they stress, securely. I haven’t taken a really close look or opted for the free trial but here’s a low-down on what Huddle offers:

    File sharing and management
    Collaboration
    Real-time collaboration with web conferencing and phone conferencing
    Project management features that sound similar to Outlook
    Security features which allow you restrict or open up elements
    Customisable for a corporate look and feel
    Tracking activity of members and assign individual priviledges and permissions
    Individuals have their own profile area
    Mobile connectivity across various smart-phones with the ability to access Huddle via other social networks such as LinkedIn
    Huddle is cloud-based which means less strain on internal IT infrastructure

With the increase in emphasis on working and learning smarter by enabling channels for collaboration, sharing ideas and best practice, experiential and on-demand learning for improved performance from a bottom-up approach, Huddle may be one solution for organisations out there who see the need for such working and learning practises but are sceptical about using the open social tools.

I’m not so sure they’d be convinced by the name of the product alone. It does seem some social tools out there have been given some strange nom-de-plumes that do little to help sell their benefits to the more serious minded potential user. But that’s a whole different story. If we want to get past the quirky handle, we’re going to have to sell the benefits ourselves.

Huddle, themselves, have given us a good head start.

I was impressed by the list of testimonials and case studies on their site which include organisations who, from my own experience, are very strict about accessibility and security. I’ve taken the list from Huddle’s testimonial page.

    Kia Motors
    Akqa
    NHS East of England
    Dept for Business Innovation& Skills
    Kerry
    Liberal Democrats
    Belgian FPS Social Security
    Aggie-Lance
    Berkshire Community Foundation
    Boots
    Rufus Leonard
    Bright One
    Care for the Family
    British Institute for Facilities Management
    Cheltenham Brough Council
    East of England IDB Ltd
    Distinct
    Fulham Football Club Foundation
    Inform
    Government Skills
    Plymouth Mind
    Post Office
    Traffic Management Solutions
    University of London Computer Centre

So if you want to get past the sales pitch, how about checking out some of the case studies or even contacting their customers and find out what it’s done for them.

I’ll be very interested in hearing from anyone out there who has implemented Huddle, either tried it out on the free trial or is already up and running with it. How have you found it useful and any tips you might have to help others who are thinking of using this or any similar application.

After I’ve taken a look at the free trial, I’ll share more thoughts here.

Opening up the walled garden

If you have a little over 1hour and 17 minutes to spare, here is a very interesting debate from late 2009 (but still topical nonetheless) on the whether the VLE (virtual learning environment) is dead and that the PLE (personal learning environment) is the way to go for learning.

Image for YouTube Video The VLE is Dead

Click the link to view: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6KnJPeAWog

I’m going to sit firmly on the fence here. It might get a little uncomfortable at times and I can waver a little but for me certain things come to mind before we force a decision.  Perhaps we’ll be throwing the proverbial baby out with the bathwater.

Do we really know what our VLE can do?
Have we taken enough time to investigate the functionality?
Have we exercised enough creativity in what we could do with it and in it?
Did we forget to ‘be there’ providing that human touch or have we just left our students to their own devices with merely a map to guide them through the maze of content.
Are we going to going to remain within our secret walled garden of the VLE or could we, as Dicken and Mary did in the novel ‘The Secret Garden’, unlock the door enjoy the best of both worlds?

Remember that we can easily create doorways out into the social world and PLEs with the use of links. For instance, one activity within the VLE could be to take a conversation beyond the walled garden and out into a social network where students could share resources more easily, upload photos and videos for comment and discussion and return to the VLE to post a conclusion or analysis of their ‘field trip’. Maybe you’d create a Facebook account for the course or a Twitter account using hashtags for grouping the assignment conversations (after establishing whether your audience can access these of course), the limitations are really only your imagination.

Maybe we need to invest a little more time into these creative ideas and encourage the meeting of these worlds rather than an exclusion of one or the other. It’s not always necessary to make a decision between one or another.

Another case for blending methinks.

Twitter-lingo

Did you know…

There have been 659,042 Tweets in the Haitian Creole language of  Kreyol Ayisyen within a user group of 7,468 and Cymraeg (Welsh) is the third most popular language Tweeted with 261,083 Tweets altogether between 2,729.

These statistics have been gathered by Indigenous Tweets as reported by the BBC last week.  According to the article, Indegenous Tweets is “about encouraging minority language speakers to discover each other online”.

This got me thinking about how Twitter can be used to help people learn a language.  I’ve always been told that the only real way to learn how to speak a new language is to use it – regularly.  However, speaking a new language may not necessarily help you get to grips with writing it.

What’s a better place to interact with others in a particular language to try out your skill and improve them.

Here are some ideas I’ve had:

  • Set a ‘conversation’ activity in class to practise written language skills
  • Set an icebreaker task before the course asking students to research how to say “Hello, my name is, what’s your name?”
  • As the skills increase hold regular live Tweet meets where the tutor and group will only converse in that language.
  • Encourage students to join a wider community where they hold conversations with others
  • Create a blog to post regular conversation topics giving details of the time and duration of Tweet-meets
  • Upload a copy of each conversation to the blog to discuss further

Because Twitter is just another tool by which we can hold conversations, it’s important we think beyond the prejudice and barriers and start thinking creatively on how we can harness it for learning.  Of course, we don’t want to use these tools ‘just because’ but perhaps we need to start thinking more about ‘what can be’.

Classroom trainers have been very creative in the past about how to include different tools and activities to aid the learning process.  Just think about how we introduced video and DVDs to the classroom course.  The set up little group to collaborate using flip-charts, then PowerPoint.  We’ve introduced games and adapted them to encourage problem solving. The only difference now is we no longer have to be bound by walls and have a much richer collection of tools.