Social Networking

A social networking website is an online platform that allows users to create a public profile and interact with other users on the website. Social networking websites usually have a new user input a list of people with whom they share a connection and then allow the people on the list to confirm or deny the connection. After connections are established, the new user can search the networks of his connections to make more connections. A social networking site may also be known as a social website or a social networking website.

Social networking sites have different rules for establishing connections, but they often allow users to view the connections of a confirmed connection and even suggest further connections based on a person’s established network. Some social networking websites like LinkedIn are used for establishing professional connections, while sites like Facebook straddle the line between private and professional. There are also many networks that are built for a specific user base, such as cultural or political groups within a given area or even traders in financial markets Social networking websites are easy to confuse with social media sites. A social networking site is any site that has a public or semi-public profile page, including dating sites, fan sites and so on. A social media site has profiles and connections, combined with the tools to easily share online content of all types.



  • Online community of individuals communicating and socializing via various internet sites.
  • Professional and personal contacts among people who share interests and/or activities.
  • Social Networking is a common tool for connecting and conversing with friends, family; colleagues.
  • Members are associated by one or more specific types of interdependency, such as relationships, common interests, careers, financial exchange, dislikes, beliefs, knowledge etc.

VIDEO – Social Networking in Plain English:


  • Social Networks are dynamic and user based. Users populate the network with conversations and content.
  • Social Networks are interactive. Content is determined and influenced by anyone who contributes.
  • Social Networks are community driven. Social Networks are built upon relationships.
  • Social Networks provide users with a sense of emotional security amid a support network of like-minded, empathetic peers.


  • Most online networking sites share core features.
  • Sites provide users a profile:
    • a representation of themselves and often, of their own social networks, for others to peruse.
  • Uses for profiles:
    • Contacting or being contacted by others
    • Meeting new friends or dates
    • Finding new jobs
    • Receiving or providing recommendations


  • Developing and maintaining contacts and personal connections with a variety of individuals and organizations who might be helpful to you and your career.
  • Successfully “connected” individuals possess the skills necessary to create, cultivate and capitalize relationships.
  • A conference Board report indicates that “one of the four essential leadership roles is relationship/network builder”.
  • What distinguishes exceptional performers is their ability to grow and leverage their personal and professional networks.
  • The most effective individuals create and exploit large boundary-spanning diversified networks rich in experience.

The Power of Networking

In the research study, “The Strength of Weak Ties” (1973), Stanford University sociologist Mark Granovetter demonstrated how being weakly connected to new networks provides far more information and opportunities than existing strong connections.

Social networking sites

  • Athlinks
  • Bebo
  • Edmodo
  • Foursquare
  • Friendster
  • Google Buzz
  • LinkedIn
  • Meetup
  • Myspace
  • NING
  • Open Diary
  • Ryze
  • SharetheMusic
  • StumbleUpon


  • Biggest social networking service, with almost 500 million members.
  • Facebook is often used for:
    • Searching for people and groups with similar interests
    • Finding lost friends
    • Sharing news, photos and videos
    • Sending messages
    • Playing games, such as FarmVille and Mafia Wars


  • TeachAde is a free community collaboration resource and social networking site for teachers and educators.
  • TeachAde allows educators to share information, tips, advice and experiences to be utilized in the classroom.
  • Educators can obtain and post resources, curriculum authoring, and other educational


  • LinkedIn is a business-oriented social networking site primarily used for professional networking.
  • Excellent at establishing a “who you know” network of current and former business colleagues.
  • LinkedIn functions around the concept of multi- tiered contacts, which are referred to as ‘Connections’
  • Especially useful when seeking employment or for businesses seeking new employees


  • Social networks are also an easy means to damage a brand’s reputation according to a recent Deloitte survey.
  • In spite of this, 37% of employees do not consider this prior to posting comments, images and video online.
  • Only 17% of executives report that their companies monitor social networking sites to mitigate risks.
  • Companies are starting to make hiring decisions based on an employees (digital) presence.


  • Many members post masses of personal data on network sites without considering the implications.
  • Any social network such as Facebook with millions of users is vulnerable to privacy invasion.
  • Facebook has come under criticism for limiting what users can keep private, as well as technical glitches that exposed members’ personal data.

Protecting your privacy

  • To protect your individual privacy:
    • Learn what is being stored in the network database
    • Be careful what information you share
    • Assume that everything that you post will be public… forever!

Module 15 – Visual Design

About Visual Design

Visual design focuses on the aesthetics of a site and its related materials by strategically implementing images, colors, fonts, and other elements. A successful visual design does not take away from the content on the page or function. Instead, it enhances it by engaging users and helping to build trust and interest in the brand.

Basic Elements of Visual Design

The basic elements that combine to create visual designs include the following:

  • Lines connect two points and can be used to help define shapes, make divisions, and create textures. All lines, if they’re straight, have a length, width, and direction.
  • Shapes are self-contained areas. To define the area, the graphic artist uses lines, differences in value, color, and/or texture. Every object is composed of shapes.
  • Color palette choices and combinations are used to differentiate items, create depth, add emphasis, and/or help organize information. Color theory examines how various choices psychologically impact users.
  • Texture refers to how a surface feels or is perceived to feel. By repeating an element, a texture will be created and a pattern formed. Depending on how a texture is applied, it may be used strategically to attract or deter attention.
  • Typography refers to which fonts are chosen, their size, alignment, color, and spacing.
  • Form applies to three-dimensional objects and describes their volume and mass. Form may be created by combining two or more shapes and can be further enhanced by different tones, textures, and colors.

Principles for Creating a Visual Design

A successful visual design applies the following principles to elements noted above and effectively brings them together in a way that makes sense. When trying to figure out how to use the basic elements consider:

  • Unity has to do with all elements on a page visually or conceptually appearing to belong together. Visual design must strike a balance between unity and variety to avoid a dull or overwhelming design.
  • Gestalt, in visual design, helps users perceive the overall design as opposed to individual elements. If the design elements are arranged properly, the Gestalt of the overall design will be very clear.
  • Space is “defined when something is placed in it”, according to Alex White in his book, The Elements of Graphic Design. Incorporating space into a design helps reduce noise, increase readability, and/or create illusion. White space is an important part of your layout strategy.
  • Hierarchy shows the difference in significance between items. Designers often create hierarchies through different font sizes, colors, and placement on the page. Usually, items at the top are perceived as most important.
  • Balance creates the perception that there is equal distribution. This does not always imply that there is symmetry.
  • Contrast focuses on making items stand out by emphasizing differences in size, color, direction, and other characteristics.
  • Scale identifies a range of sizes; it creates interest and depth by demonstrating how each item relates to each other based on size.
  • Dominance focuses on having one element as the focal point and others being subordinate. This is often done through scaling and contrasting based on size, color, position, shape, etc.
  • Similarity refers to creating continuity throughout a design without direct duplication. Similarity is used to make pieces work together over an interface and help users learn the interface quicker.


Design Elements in a Text or a Presentation

Content and design

  • Content is only one component of a presentation
    • Subject matter combined with effective use of visual design can contribute to a successful presentation
    • Studies have shown that including images and graphs improves audience learning and recall
  • Good visual design affects both the learning and perception of content
    • However, the validity of information is influenced by the manner in which it is presented


  • Convey only the most important concepts
    • Avoid text-heavy slides
  • Audiences are less likely to read paragraphs/run-ons
  • Remove unnecessary and redundant information
  • Break information down using bullets/numbers
  • Yet, ensure that you are not losing meaning information


  • Select a readable font
    • Use sans serif typefaces for body text, such as Arial or Helvetica
    • Cursive/stylistic fonts are difficult to read and distracting
  • Use no more than two font styles
  • Consistency improves professionalism limits distractions for audience

Font styles

  • Use bold to emphasize important points
  • Avoid underlines
    • Easily confused with links
    • Makes text more difficult to read
  • Use colors for emphasis, but consider:
    • Aesthetics, readability, color blindness, etc.
  • Colors may appear differently on different displays Use contrasting colors for backgrounds and text

Font size

  • Use no more than three font sizes
  • Ensure those farthest away will be able to view your content
    • Generally, it is best to use 24+ point size

Numbered lists

  • Use numbers for ordered lists
  • Example: Who are the 5 best rappers of all time?
  1. Dylan 1
  2. Dylan 2
  3. Dylan 3
  4. Dylan 4, and
  5. Dylan 5

Bulleted lists

  • Use bullets for unordered lists
  • No special priority, sequence, or hierarchy
  • Example: Who are the 5 best rappers of all time?
    • Dylan 1
      • Dylan 2
        • Dylan 3
          • Dylan 4, and
            • Dylan 5


  • Effective way to communicate with your audience
  • Graphics should:
    • Depict and reinforce important concepts
    • Help the audience understand your concepts and maintain interest
    • Be relevant, high-quality, professional, consistent, and age appropriate
  • Graphics should not:
    • Distract
    • Substitute for meaningful content

Dieter Rams’ 10 Principles of Good Design

Good design:

  1. Is innovative – The possibilities for progression are not, by any means, exhausted. Technological development is always offering new opportunities for original designs. But imaginative design always develops in tandem with improving technology, and can never be an end in itself.
  2. Makes a product useful – A product is bought to be used. It has to satisfy not only functional, but also psychological and aesthetic criteria. Good design emphasizes the usefulness of a product whilst disregarding anything that could detract from it.
  3. Is aesthetic – The aesthetic quality of a product is integral to its usefulness because products are used every day and have an effect on people and their well-being. Only well-executed objects can be beautiful.
  4. Makes a product understandable – It clarifies the product’s structure. Better still, it can make the product clearly express its function by making use of the user’s intuition. At best, it is self-explanatory.
  5. Is unobtrusive – Products fulfilling a purpose are like tools. They are neither decorative objects nor works of art. Their design should therefore be both neutral and restrained, to leave room for the user’s self-expression.
  6. Is honest – It does not make a product appear more innovative, powerful or valuable than it really is. It does not attempt to manipulate the consumer with promises that cannot be kept.
  7. Is long-lasting – It avoids being fashionable and therefore never appears antiquated. Unlike fashionable design, it lasts many years – even in today’s throwaway society.
  8. Is thorough down to the last detail – Nothing must be arbitrary or left to chance. Care and accuracy in the design process show respect towards the consumer.
  9. Is environmentally friendly – Design makes an important contribution to the preservation of the environment. It conserves resources and minimizes physical and visual pollution throughout the lifecycle of the product.
  10. Is as little design as possible – Less, but better – because it concentrates on the essential aspects, and the products are not burdened with non-essentials. Back to purity, back to simplicity.

Module 16 – Screencasting

About Screencasting

Simply put, screen-casting is the act of recording the activity on a computer screen. Any action a user makes on their screen can be recorded as a video. These recordings, called screen-casts, can be seen all over the Web as parts of tutorials, advertisements, movies, training videos, and the like. Screencasts, which often contain voice-over narration, are useful for demonstrating how to use specific operating systems, software applications or website features.


VIDEO – What is a Screencast:

How to Make a Screencast

No matter which tool you use, here are some basic guidelines for effective screencasting.

Prepare the Stage

Although you can capture your entire screen, you probably don’t want to. Even with the best compression, output files can weigh in at well over one megabyte per minute. Extraneous screen real estate is just costly overhead. And if the captured screen is larger than the playback window, things get really awkward for the viewer. Use the same rules that guide your delivery of any other kind of web content. In my case, I’ve concluded that 1024 by 768 is the hard limit, but if I can tell the story in 800 by 600, that’s even better.

It may sometimes be necessary to maximize the window containing your subject application, but avoid that if you can. Usually, I find it’s possible to size the window smaller. Beyond shrinking the output file and averting playback conflicts, this can be a great way to tighten the visual focus and thus sharpen the impact of the screencast.

Here’s a principle that also applies to ordinary static screenshots: Lose all unnecessary chrome. Cropping the video capture focuses the reader on the action. If your subject application is running in a browser, viewers probably don’t need to see the title bar, toolbar, status bar, or scrollbars. The address window is relevant if you’ll refer to the URLs displayed in it, otherwise not. Similarly, the link bar is relevant if you’re demonstrating bookmarklets, otherwise not. In general, whatever doesn’t help you tell your story is just baggage. Dump it and focus on the story.

When the subject involves multiple applications, and/or multiple windows popping up within a single application, you’ll want to set your capture tool for a rectangular region of the screen rather than for a specific window. Then run through the sequence, sizing everything to fit inside that rectangle.

Tell the Story in Scenes

When you’ve got a short story to tell, it may consist of only a single scene. You can do a lot in 90 seconds of narrated video. You might need a couple of takes, but you can probably create something that’s directly usable without requiring post-production. As you attempt longer and more complex screencasts, though, it gets harder to avoid editing.

If you don’t have a video editor that’s compatible with your capture tool, clearly you won’t be doing any editing at all. That needn’t be a showstopper, though. You can tell a story in scenes by creating a series of short screencasts and presenting them on a web page.

If you do have a video editor (Camtasia Studio includes a video editor; with Snapz Pro on the Mac, you export to iMovie and edit there), it’s tempting to capture an entire session in a single pass. But even in that case it’s probably a good idea to capture a series of modular chunks. Just because you can carve scenes from a single large file doesn’t mean you should. Working a scene at a time can help you think about each scene’s role in the larger production. And depending on your tools and work style, it may be more convenient to combine a set of small clips than to subdivide a single large one.

Note that multiple takes can be challenging when the plot involves state-changing interactions. If you visit a link in the browser, for example, it’s going to be a different color in the next take–unless you clear your browser’s memory of visited links between takes. When I made the screencast, I kept having to remove items I’d added to, so that I could add them again. And of course some actions are irreversible, like creating a New York Times account as seen in the single sign-on screencast. There’s no general solution to this problem. Try for as much continuity as time and circumstances will permit.

Narrating the Action

Composing the audio narration and synchronizing it with the video is, for me, the hardest part of the job. If you have prior experience with voice recording—I didn’t—that will help. But even so, you’re likely to find that syncing your voice with the action onscreen is a real challenge.

For short unedited scenes, you can do multiple takes until you get it right, or as close as possible. For longer productions, though, I’ve adopted a very different work style. Initially I don’t even try to narrate the scenes, I just capture them as video from which I trim all the fat. Then I dictate the audio for each scene in short segments. In Camtasia Studio I save these sound clips in files, load them into the video editor, and arrange them to coincide with the onscreen action. The recently improved audio editing capabilities of iMovie HD, though, make it a friendlier environment for narration.

Check Your Work

It’s exciting to make a screencast, and you’ll want to share it with the world right away. But first watch it carefully, from beginning to end, more than once. Continuity problems can creep in during the editing process. There’s also a real danger of exposing confidential data—either on your own computer or, if you’re recording a remote session, someone else’s.


Screencasting Software

Screencast production requires some kind of video-capture software and a microphone. The software, which can be a desktop client or web-based service, captures and synchronizes the video and audio files and compresses the completed movie into a format that can be shared. 

  • Jing (Windows or Mac) – (there is also a Pro version that can be purchased). Read about it and download here: Jing is one of the simplest screen-cast tools you can use; you launch, click to begin, and start recording. Everything is done in a single take, and when you click to stop the recording (5 minute limit — more on that later), your screen-cast video is ready in moments in .swf format. It can then be shared with friends, colleagues, classmates, students, etc. It’s great for street-level recording and is very approachable.
  • SnapzProX (Mac only) – available from Ambrosia software (retail $69 at the time of this writing). SnapzProX, like Jing, records everything in a single take; the difference is that there is no time limit, you have multiple options of how video is recorded, and files can be saved in numerous formats with numerous codecs. It’s great for those needing to quickly do screen-casts but who require multiple compression/file-type options.
  • Camtasia Studio (Windows or Mac – $299 at the time of this writing — but RU has a limited site license for both platforms) – Read about it here: Camtasia studio is a screen-cast production environment, similar to a traditional time-based video editing application. Users can combine video, still images, audio, and other text/graphics into their screen-casts, and can combine multiple takes into a single timeline. Faculty interested in trying it should contact Academic Technologies.
  • Camstudio (Windows only) – a freeware, open-source program very similar to Camtasia Studio. Download it here:
  • QuickTime – anyone user with a Mac computer running a recent version of QuickTime has the ability to record their screen. Files are saved in QuickTime (.mov) format, and if necessary can be edited with either QuickTime or iMovie.
  • Screencast-o-matic – this is a web-based app that does the screen-casting on the user’s computer. The software is invoked from the website, and is very easy to use (10-minute limit). This is good for quick-and-easy screen-casts when there are no other applications available. Files can be saved to an online repository, or downloaded as QuickTime files to a user’s computer.