Monday, 9 July 2007

Facebook as a research tool

That was a surprise.

I'm in the closing stages of a small piece of work for the Eduserv Foundation, looking at Second Life developments in UK Higher Education. Up until yesterday dinnertime, I'd come to the conclusion that, apart from a handful of universities, there wasn't really anything going on. Searching in SL, in the wider literature body, blogosphere, and posting on mailing lists hadn't brought in much to go on.

As an afterthought, I spent some time yesterday evening going through my Facebook contacts who are in UK Higher Education, and Facebook-mailed some of them individually, asking if they knew of of any SL developments in their host institution.


Very unexpectedly, I've just checked the somewhat busy Facebook inbox (14 new emails overnight) to find a rather large clutch of examples in replies. One Scottish university has three different departments doing things in SL. Ah. Good. Why Facebook emails turned up this clutch, and other media have failed to do so, is something to chew on another time.

Only downside is that I've got just a week left to dig out some more details from this new batch of examples. And finish off the other bits of the report, pack, get my hair cut (hippy) and knock up three presentations for my US trip. Urg. So, no more blogging for a while.


  1. From my own experience of user surveys, you get a *far* greater response rate by contacting people individually. Don't you reply to all your personal emails, and try to be helpful where colleagues are concerned? Compare this to receiving a similar request through a mailing list: a)you might not even read the message, b)you probably filter your mailing list emails to the same account or folder, so it's easy for messages to get buried and forgotten, c)the sender doesn't necessarily know you're a recipient, so you can easily forget or choose not to respond without causing offence, d)you can tell yourself that the sender will get plenty of responses from other people.It's just human nature.

  2. Had a tiny peek at SL but not enough hours in the day to explore it seriously, hence software now uninstalled.I'm quite intrigued by this education angle though having returned to Uni recently, albeit distance learning. What's it all about? How does it work? Who gets involved? etc, etc...I'll look forward to your safe return and hopefully a posting on the topic.

  3. I don't do Facebook but belatedly saw your post on the SLED list. I'm doing some development off my own bat on Second Nature, mainly science visualization tools at the moment. Hoping to use them next September. Email me if you want a chat.