Books,  Dad,  e-learning,  shiny,  Social Objects,  Web/Tech

Shiny show 2

Following on from the hugely irrelevant Shiny Show 1, I bring the next instalment, where I look at any new technologies that have crossed my path and evaluate them from an educational perspective. The usual proviso that some of these may not be that new, it's just when I get to them.

Odadeo – a social network site for dads. It is built around the concept of 'pledges', eg 'I pledge to be more patient', or 'I pledge to take my daughter to see High School bloody Musical 3'. You can then 'pip' your pledges when you do something towards them. You can share pledges and there is a 'Dadsdaq' which shows your progress. I like the way it gets you to define yourself according to various labels (you can invent your own tags), and then find others in those groupings. My concern was that it would be populated by either a) angry Fathers for Justice types or b) American dads who kept crying every ten minutes and hugging each other. But it's not, and is quite a fun place. If you're a dad, check it out.
What's more interesting for me though is if you replaced pledge with 'learning pledge' you've suddenly got the makings of a good learning social network site.
Shiny score – 4/5 Educational score – 2/5

PostRank – I covered this in detail in my previous post, but want to include it for a shiny award too. They get a shiny for their widget alone, see the left hand column on my blog. I think this way of measuring engagement with content is something we need to explore as educators (to help students) and under the digital scholarship banner, as a means of demonstrating the type of response and value there is to your online output.
Shiny score – 3/5 Educational score – 4/5

Shelfari – a social network for book readers. It takes the bookshelf idea from Facebook a little further, so you add books from an extensive database to your 'bookshelf' (I've added a couple to mine as illustration). This can be shared with others, and you can join groups, meet authors, etc. It's well done, and books are a subject people are passionate enough about to make a network viable. Books are sufficiently rich social objects to foster community.
From an educational perspective, like with Odadeo, you could see this being adapted to work around subject areas, or rather the user's bookshelf being imported into a learning environment so that they can join groups around other text books. Because you can tag books, it also adds to resource discovery for learners.
Shiny score – 4/5 Educational score – 4/5

Debategraph – takes the concept mapping idea and wikifies it. It looks nice, and being able to share maps and argument structures clearly has educational potential, but I found it difficult to use. Like a lot of concept mapping tools, it has a range of terminology (for example all the different nodes and types of links), that produce a high threshold to entry. They need to simplify I think, at least on the first play, so you can quickly bash together a mind map, without needing to take a course in mind map theory first. This is in competition rather with the Open University's own Cohere. There is definitely something in this shared maps for education, you can imagine them being legitimate forms of output, or group process, but the software isn't quite there yet.
Shiny score – 3/5 Educational score – 4/5

That's it for now folks, and remember – keep it shiny.


  • Martin Weller

    Thats a good question Anne. From the shiny perspective I’d like the tagging to be more powerful, for it to make recommendations, and to maybe take me further. This last one relates to education too – I’d want it to help me learn about the book. For a 5 it needs to have a direct educational focus.
    What do you think of shelfari?

  • Scott Leslie

    Martin, debategraph was new to me – great find! Though I agree with the comments about the ‘high threshold to entry.’ I also appreciated that this got me to go back and look at cohere again and realize that, while it takes a different approach, you could do similar things with it, not in this ‘argument’ model so much ,but by different people connecting their ‘ideas’ into a more collaborative whole. (Did you review Cohere for the Shinies? I’d warrant it actually had a higher shiny factor than debategraph)

  • Melanie Baker

    Ooh, a shiny award! 🙂
    There’s always room for improvement in our shiny-ness and other values, so feel free to give me a holler with input any time.
    How we can make ourselves useful in the education space is one area that’s a fairly blank slate for us still.

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