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Week 8 Blog Reflection

What are your design principles for designing and fostering online communities or networks based on your experience in this course and your project? Please describe them and a little bit about how you have developed them.

If I had been asked this question when starting the course, I would not have had any sort of ideas about design principles  in terms of designing and fostering online communities or networks. Now after taking this class, I can definitely see  how my design principles have developed.

Simple user interface:

I think after doing a lot of research into our online community of Indiegogo, I can definitely see that a simple user interface can be extremely effective for communities such as Indiegogo that reach out to a wide variety of different users. It is not safe to assume that all users will be able to use complicated interfaces, and by keeping it simple, many more people can join this online community. When you go to the website’s homepage you have 3 options: Browse campaigns, learn how it works, start a campaign. Next to this are the featured campaigns, and below you can see other featured campaigns. Not only does this make it easy for one to start a campaign quickly and easily, this also allows users to be able to easily donate. The best of both worlds. This is why if I were to start a community, the more simplistic the design, the better.

Social media links:

I think a huge part of online communities and networks is the social media that is linked to them. Social media is a great way to get word out about the online community, so that more members can join. This is how online communities such as facebook and myspace have been formed among the youth (and well now, even adults). Online communities and networks are all about connecting people. By linking social media to the online community from the start, the users will come on their own, and spread word about things going on within that specific online community. Indiegogo uses a unique algorithm known as the gogofactor, and by using social media and getting likes for your campaign on indiegogo, it is possible to boost this gogofactor and get your campaign featured. Therefore I have first hand witnessed the power of social media, and how it is an important part of online communities today.

Mobile Interface:

What I have noticed in the past 2 years, is that everyone is beginning to have smartphones. Of course there are laggers, but I would say a large portion of the people I am in contact with have an iphone, a blackberry, a Samsung galaxy, or any other smart phone brand out there. This is why I think online communities should ALWAYS have a mobile interface! As technology is moving forward mobility is becoming easier and easier, and we seem to always be on the go. With the convenience of the smart phone, everything can now be done without having a computer, and by having a mobile interface, more users can be connected around the world, any time, any place.

Sorry for the late post! With projects due, the blog post almost slipped my mind. But here it is :) 

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Posted in All Students, Group 2, Support Raising
This was originally published at Sylv!e C.

Week 7 Blog Reflection

I think that if I had a design challenge that I would definitely join and participate in one of the types of online communities we have been researching. I don’t know very much about the online communities the other groups have been researching, but I would certainly use the online community my group has been researching, which is about support raising.

Before taking this class, I actually knew hardly anything about online communities and platforms. Especially ones for support raising. I didn’t know that things like kickstarter, indiegogo, or kiva even existed. When I first began researching kickstarter and indiegogo, I really liked these websites, mainly because of how helpful they are to their users. Previously when thinking about making a product or a campaign, or anything for that matter, I had never really thought deeply about the logistics of how to get your ideas or products out to the public, get them known, and raise support for them. Now after researching online communities related to support raising, I have figured this out. When first researching the sites, I simply scrolled through all the campaigns, and read up on a few, and  I really thought it was amazing how much money was actually raised, simply by placing a nice description and a picture or a video of what the person or people were doing. I guess it was pretty inspiring to me, and also very nice to see what other people were doing, and what I could also do. It got me thinking about when I first create something and need to raise money, that one of the first things I will do is go to one of these websites and create my own page to raise money. So in a nutshell, yes I would use one of the types of online communities we have been researching, and I would do this because I have seen that the support raising communities are really useful and effective in raising funds and gaining support. 

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Posted in All Students, Group 2, Support Raising
This was originally published at Sylv!e C.

Blog Reflection: Week 6

I think so far I have contributed a solid amount to my team’s project. I have attended every class so far, and I feel like in every class our group gets a lot done. I think I make contributions in class time by actively participating in our discussions, giving feedback and opinions, and working together with the group on what needs to be done for our project. Outside of the class time I contribute to my team by commenting on their blog posts every week to give feedback, and by also doing my assigned work. This was actually difficult at first without having a clear end goal, but as the end goal has gotten more clear I have found it easier to contribute more to the project outside of class time. A few weeks ago I was in charge of researching the website Kiva.org, and I made a word document containing a summary of what the website is about, and how it works. This is probably my most tangible contribution up until this point. In the coming weeks one of my tasks is to help summarize our theory of change for our NGO, this will be my next tangible contribution. As far as intangible contributions, I will brain storm how our team can create/share our final product in 8 minutes or less, and what tools we can use to do this. 

I think the best way to evaluate my learnings so far is my application of them in the group work. Everything I have learned in the lectures I have been able to apply in the group, especially in terms of the online networking and platforms, and online facilitation. Our group has done a large portion of our work on the online platforms, and we have learned a lot about how to use these in the lecture. I think this is also a good way to evaluate the group’s learnings as a whole. Our learning is pretty clear to see as a group, because every week we have a clearer picture of what we need to do, and our work output increasing week by week has demonstrated our learning every week. As far as the class’s learning I think it is actually quite difficult to assess, but in my opinion it is easiest to assess the learning in the class’s use of the online platforms. In a previous class each group did some presentations on what they had been doing, and I thought this was a nice overview of the class’s learnings. As well as this, the spider diagrams which were drawn on the whiteboard in the classroom were also a good evaluation of what the class has learned so far and how they are applying it. 


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Posted in All Students, Group 2, Support Raising
This was originally published at Sylv!e C.

Personal Blog Reflection: Week 5

I believe both my instructors and my peers play a huge role in facilitating my learning at the university. I have actually been amazed in the ways the instructors have created learning opportunities within the project communities class. Learning in this class has been facilitated through organization of online interactions consisting of google hangouts, skype, and facebook, and by using these tools in action learning experiments. I think the important thing the instructors are doing here, is allowing us as students to have the freedom to explore and discover the web on our own terms, within our groups. Because we can do this in groups during class time, it has facilitated learning to work in teams, and how teams can work independently towards a goal. This has definitely opened my eyes in the ways that different platforms can be used as well. One of the things I find very awesome, is that one of our instructors is living in the United States! Yet she facilitates our learning by logging onto skype every week and talking with us, as well as communicating with us in various other ways. This can be by posting in the facebook group, or sending us links, or any other method of online communication! Through doing this, we have access to an individual who can share a huge amount of her knowledge with us, and we do not even have to be in the same country! That is true facilitation of learning. 

As far as learning from my peers, they can be just as useful in facilitation of learning. I find this to be especially true via the facebook group. A lot of students tend to post interesting links and share their findings from the web on the facebook group, and this allows our entire class to have access to new knowledge and information. Furthermore, I know all my peers have different online preferences and knowledge about online tools/communities, and this has also been very useful. I am learning to use new tools that I have never used before from my peers, which I probably would never have used if they had not shown me how that tool works. 

It is hard to actually name some things that I would like to see and experience in the facilitation of this course, simply because I think the facilitation has been so fantastic so far. If I were to say anything, it would maybe be to have more facilitation that isn’t so self directed. When I say this I mean that a lot of the facilitation from instructors simply allows us to personally discover and learn, and although useful at times, it can also lead to a lot of confusion about the task at hand. So in this sense, I think that students may also benefit from more one on one facilitation from instructors, opposed to facilitation within the group. For example the other day our group had a google hangout session with Nancy, she did a great job at facilitating our learning by giving us clear instructions and feedback, and it didn’t hurt to get a more personal connection with her either :-) So I think some more of that would be GREAT! As for my peers, I would just say better communication at times between groups, and between group members, though Facebook is a useful tool at times, it can also be distracting and unclear, and sometimes not everyone is sure of what they need to do! 

What I can contribute as a peer facilitator in my opinion, is making sure to always ask questions, be involved, post frequently, and help spread any knowledge I have that is useful to other people in the course.


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Posted in All Students, Group 2, Support Raising
This was originally published at Sylv!e C.

Week 4 Blog Reflection

“How much does your personal preference drive your tool choices? What if everyone else in your group had different preferences? How would you proceed as you steward the technology? Does looking at others’ preferences and perspectives change your view as a tech steward? Challenge you?”

I think that personal preference plays quite a big role in my tool choices. All of us have a personal preference to what we like to use. It might be because of the tool’s speed, layout, usability, or many other things. One example for me is the use of the search engine Google. I prefer to use Google as a search engine over, say, Yahoo, or Bing. Although Yahoo and Bing may produce the same information as Google does, Google’s simple layout design and easy use makes it preferable to me. On Yahoo’s homepage below the search bar you see lots of text and news. On Google’s homepage all you have is the search bar, and Google’s logo, with some other various options. It is quick, easy, and I can say that I use google almost every single day. The same thing goes for networking platforms as well. While one user may like Facebook, another may prefer to use Myspace. One user may prefer to blog on tumblr, or another may like the freedom of posting on a less restricted blogging site. This all comes down to user preference. I would say my personal preference drives my tool choices to a large extent, as I like using tools that are user friendly, quick, and have a nice layout. 

I think if everyone in my group had a different personal preference to the tools they use then it would definitely make group work a bit more difficult. There would be two main problems, the problem of which platform to use for networking with one another. And then the problem of choosing which tool we wanted to investigate further for our research into support raising. I think the way to proceed in this type of scenario would be to do an evaluation each tool in it’s ease of usability, and what functions each can provide for our specific task. By doing this I think as a group we would be able to choose the “best” tool, despite our personal preferences. Although I do have my own preferences, looking at other’s perspectives and preferences can definitely change my view as a tech steward. For example I may discover a new tool I have never used or heard of before, that is of great use to me, and this may even become a new preference to me. However, if one person is very set on using a tool that I do not like, then this can be a challenge either in terms of changing their mind, or in terms of trying to use a tool that I do not prefer. 

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Posted in All Students, Group 2, Support Raising
This was originally published at Sylv!e C.

Week 3 Blog Reflection

 What is working well for you in your group? What is challenging you? What is one thing you might do differently in the coming weeks to improve your experience and the group’s work? 

Working in groups has its ups and downs, and sometimes it can be challenging, and at other times very helpful. This is common in any group work, and the key is finding ways to work with one another in an effective manner, and identifying what is going well in the group, and what is not going so well. I personally think team evaluations can be an important part of achieving a successful outcome. For example, every week the group can get together and discuss how they are feeling, what work they have done, and if they have anything of importance to discuss with the group. For example one thing that might be discussed is one team member’s behavior in a certain situation, or maybe that someone is falling behind on their tasks. Other things that could be discussed could be things that are going very well, such as the groups ability to communicate. Identifying both positive and negative points in group work can be hugely helpful to making sure group members work well with one another. 

In our group I can identify several things that work well: for the most part everyone keeps up to date with their personal tasks within the group and gets everything done on time, there is good communication between group members on what needs to be done, and everyone tries to contributes a portion of their time, even if they are busy, to come to most group meetings. I find that our online work as a group that is “individual” is what is most efficient in our group. The problem is that when we come together some members may be less active in conversation, and don’t seem to be contributing as much to discussion and insights as others. As well as this, I think some members need to work on their ability to communicate their criticism or ideas in a more positive way. For example when you don’t like someones idea, it is easy to say “that sucks, I don’t want to do that” or simply saying “No”. But something more constructive might be “Well I am not too sure on that idea because __________, what if we changed it to do it in this way instead?”. In this way you can give someone constructive criticism on how to improve their idea or help work with it. I think something our group could do weekly is discuss each individual’s performance and give one another feedback on how they are working in the group. If everything is going well we could even meet just to give one another compliments on their hard work, because that always feels good and is positive reinforcement too!

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Posted in All Students, Group 2, Support Raising
This was originally published at Sylv!e C.

A Personal Research Experiment

When I think about my own networks, I find that I use online spaces more as an individual opposed to using it in a group. I, like most other young people, am a member of facebook, twitter, and tumblr. On these types of online networks, I am an individual who can find and harvest information, as well as interact with other users online if I wish to. I use facebook most frequently to communicate with friends and family around the world, while tumblr is a space where I can share my creative ideas, and finally twitter is an easy way to get short impersonal updates and ideas from the users I follow. I find facebook to be a great way to share information, as documents, photos, videos, and simply ideas can be shared very easily. With the ease of also being able to form “groups” on facebook, it can be a great platform to communicate with team members on a project, or members of any sort of “group” one may be involved in…Outside of what we like to call “social networking”, I suppose I am not very active in online networks.Thus I would definitely say I am a member of defined or bounded groups, as I do not spread into wider networks of people where I can intersect with them. My online network consists of only friends and family, and I do not have contact with a wider variety of people. In a sense, I would say this is because it is the most comfortable. However, when it comes down to valuable information I believe by putting yourself out there on a wider network, you will be able to obtain broader perspectives and more information than by letting yourself stay within a bounded network. However, I think with the ease and accessibility of the internet, many of us may be scared to allow ourselves to be reached by such a broad online community of individuals, but we also underestimate the value of this being accessible to us. I think in order to step outside of my “boundries”, I need to find new ways of accessing useful information in online communities outside of my social networks which I am comfortable in. I think one simple way I can start on my own is by investigating interesting creative projects on websites such as kickstarter.com to get insight into different ideas and projects, and maybe how I can use the website on my own some day.  Another way I could get more integrated could be to help raise funds for projects in third world countries on websites such as kiva.com. Through doing this I will already broaden my horizons and perspectives on my group’s topic which is “support raising”, and once I learn more about how to use online networks such as these and how they work, I will be able to expand to different online networks in this realm and realize their potential for myself as a designer. 

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Posted in All Students, Group 2, Support Raising
This was originally published at Sylv!e C.

What do you/we need and want to learn as you/we explore the application of online communities and networks to open innovation design?

Well, as of now I know week one to be “What if? Scratching the itch”. Although I am still not completely clear on what this all means, I have found this state of confusion I am in (as well as quite a few others I’m sure), to be the purpose. And how have I been able to reach a deeper level of understanding about what I am doing? Through my online networks. Yes, it’s all starting to make sense. As designers we have a large database of information all around us- through our peers, our lecturers, and of course, our online networks. I have found that the first thing I do when I want to “scratch the itch”, is go online. Confusion makes us curious to find answers to our questions, and one of the simplest ways to gain new knowledge is to open our laptops and go online. Online communities and networks allow us to gain new perspectives, connect with other designers, market and test our ideas, and much much more. There are many things I personally would like to learn as we explore the application of online communities and networks in industrial design engineering, and I came up with a few learning questions of my own…

- How can the use of online communities promote diversity of ideas, as opposed to the use of only offline communities?

- How can online networks connect designers to the resources they need to market, fund, and get support for their ideas?

- How can we as designers learn together from using online communities and networks?

Through the platform of Facebook, I was able to gain some perspective on my questions from other students. But one thing I realized through doing this is that as we explore more about online networks, I would like to learn more how to best use online networks and platforms in a way that is useful as a designer, opposed to simply chatting through “social networking” on things such as facebook and twitter. As for responses from others to my questions, they were all quite similar, and positive. Most students agreed on the fact that online networks are a great way to gain new information and resources. Through online communities one individual may be connected with many more people than through offline communities, and thus you can learn new things that you may have never thought of. Furthermore it is easier to contact people who think differently than you, and is therefore an effective tool students can use to learn “together”, because online networks allow each of us to be a database of information that reaches much farther than simply a textbook or information from our peers.   Access  to a variety of different platforms enables designers to get new perspectives, and these perspectives are essential to the development of unique and interesting ideas that will make an impact. It is clear that online networking is a critical part of open innovation design, and students also agreed it is essential for marketing, funding, and support. Basically, if there is a platform where a designer can present valuable ideas in an effective way, then there will be somebody ready to fund and support them. Some common sites that came up in order to raise support were “kickstarter.com” and “angel.co”, and these allow designers to find support, funding and marketing. Finally, through social media designers can get in touch with social and proffesional networks of investors/ engineers and so on.  

So to sum it all up,  by getting a better idea of how we as designers can utilize online networks most effectively, we can further understand how we can learn “together” outside the classroom,  how to “brand” ourselves on online networks, and how to gain support and funding for our ideas. 

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Posted in All Students, Group 2, Support Raising
This was originally published at Sylv!e C.