Designed for learning

learning – teaching – research – design – technology

This is a Man’s world

BBC gloats over a new Harvard twitter study. See – its not so social, is it? You’re just another broadcast medium. Ha. We know broadcast.

Yeah, well, its called the power law of participation, dude. So far all the BBC has proven is that Twitter is a social networking site. Broadcast medium? Let’s talk when the BBC hits the 10:90 producer:consumer ratio. The Harvard statistics included the majority of people who just registered for a glimpse of what the noise is all about but never came back. Again, typical of social nets. All that reflects is the fact that such sites are valuated (as in money) by the number of subscriptions.

What the BBC missed, however, is the huge gender gap:

Of our sample (300,542 users, collected in May 2009), 80% are followed by or follow at least one user. By comparison, only 60 to 65% of other online social networks’ members had at least one friend (when these networks were at a similar level of development). This suggests that actual users (as opposed to the media at large) understand how Twitter works.

Although men and women follow a similar number of Twitter users, men have 15% more followers than women. Men also have more reciprocated relationships, in which two users follow each other. This “follower split” suggests that women are driven less by followers than men, or have more stringent thresholds for reciprocating relationships. This is intriguing, especially given that females hold a slight majority on Twitter: we found that men comprise 45% of Twitter users, while women represent 55%. To get this figure, we cross-referenced users’ “real names” against a database of 40,000 strongly gendered names.

Even more interesting is who follows whom. We found that an average man is almost twice more likely to follow another man than a woman. Similarly, an average woman is 25% more likely to follow a man than a woman. Finally, an average man is 40% more likely to be followed by another man than by a woman. These results cannot be explained by different tweeting activity – both men and women tweet at the same rate.

Twitter’s usage patterns are also very different from a typical on-line social network. A typical Twitter user contributes very rarely. Among Twitter users, the median number of lifetime tweets per user is one. This translates into over half of Twitter users tweeting less than once every 74 days.
At the same time there is a small contingent of users who are very active. Specifically, the top 10% of prolific Twitter users accounted for over 90% of tweets. On a typical online social network, the top 10% of users account for 30% of all production. To put Twitter in perspective, consider an unlikely analogue – Wikipedia. There, the top 15% of the most prolific editors account for 90% of Wikipedia’s edits.

I don’t have the reference at hand, but I remember that FaceBook, for example, is dominated by women in the 25-35 band. What is it about Twitter that makes it a masculine medium? Is it the exhibitionist style of the tool? Or the fact that it is perceived as a marketing / business venue more than a social one? Whatever it is, is there a causal link between the gender bias of Twitter and its unique social dymanics? In other words, are woman better at listening and sustaining a conversation, while men just want to shout “Look at ME – I’m BIG!”

June 9, 2009 Posted by | Social Software, technology | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Call for contributions: Practical design patterns for teaching and learning with technology

Call for contributions

Practical design patterns for teaching and learning with technology

A book for Sense Publishers ‘Technology Enhanced Learning’ series
Editors: Yishay Mor (London Knowledge Lab), Steven Warburton (King’s College London) and Niall Winters (London Knowledge Lab)
Series editors: Richard Noss (London Knowledge Lab) & Mike Sharples (Learning Sciences Research Institute)
Deadline:- Submissions should be sent to: by July 31, 2009

The design, development and implementation of an educational intervention often involves learners, teachers, educational designers and policy makers. To support collaboration and effective sharing of design processes between these participants, a common language is needed. One form this can take is a design pattern, which articulates sharable design knowledge in a meaningful and actionable form.
Practical design patterns for teaching and learning with technology will produce a collection of patterns across six themes:
  1. Learner centred design

    • Supporting learners to become active, self-directed and self-responsible participants in the learning process
    • Section Editor: Michael Derntl (University of Vienna)
  2. Learning as collaboration
    • Supporting content creation, communication and collaboration between learners and tutors
    • Section Editor: TBA
  3. Learning as conversation
    • Supporting learners to effectively communicate their learning process
    • Section Editor: Diana Laurillard (London Knowledge Lab)
  4. Games
    • Supporting game-based learning practices
    • Section Editor: Staffan Björk (Chalmers University of Technology | Göteborg University)
  5. Social media
    • Supporting learning using social media
    • Section Editor: Steven Warburton (King’s College London, UK)
  6. Assessment
    • Supporting effective assessment of student learning
    • Section Editor: Harvey Mellar and Norbert Pachler (Institute of Education, UK)
These patterns will be supported by case stories that illustrate a critical problem by elaborating its appearance and successful resolution within a concrete context.
For an overview of the book and further background information, please see the book’s supporting website at
Submission procedure

Authors are requested to submit co-ordinated contributions of patterns and their supporting cases. These can be individual submissions, or a joint/group submission, where person A produces the case-story, and person B provides the associated pattern. Each submission is expected to be 3,000-4,000 words in length: 1,500-2,000 for the pattern and 1,500-2,000 for the supporting case-story. We encourage the use of images (with appropriate copyright clearance) to illustrate submitted case-stories and patterns. For more details, please see the author guidelines at:
The book will be developed in an open-content process, using a collaborative web-site. Submitted cases and pattens will be reviewed by the section and book editors, and those selected will be included in a shepherding process. During shepherding, all contributions will be openly available for comment. The section editors will iteratively work with authors to ensure quality, coherence and cohesion of the book as a whole. Authors will also be asked to comment on their peers’ contributions and identify links with their own contribution. The web-site will continue to evolve, as a companion to the book after its publication, while the book will remain an authoritative, quality controlled and professionally edited off-the shelf resource.
Important Dates
  • July 31 2009: Proposal Submission Deadline – submissions should be sent to
  • October 15 2009: Notification of Acceptance
  • October 17 2009 – February 15 2009: Shepherding process under the guidance of section editors
  • December 2010: Book published
Further Questions and Contact
Please consult the FAQ page.
All enquires should be made to:
Please subscribe to for future announcements

June 9, 2009 Posted by | design patterns | , , , , | Leave a comment