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A Strategy for Web 2.0

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									A Strategy for Web 2.0
Michael Webb Head of IT and Media Services University of Wales, Newport
The work is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 licence. Caveats: this excludes the Bebo and Think.Com screenshots. The University of Wales, Newport logo most not be modified in any way.

Presentation Overview
• Very brief Web 2.0 introduction • Our starting point – a change of approach to using the web for teaching and learning • How and why we changed our IT Strategy to support Web 2.0 • Technical, teaching and marketing challenges and opportunities • How we plan to turn our strategy in a service

What do I mean by Web 2.0?
“…a second generation of services available on the World Wide Web that lets people collaborate and share information online” (Wikipedia 12th May 2006)

Web for teaching and learning
We‟d reached a crossroads with our (commercial) VLE and had a chance to rethink our strategy. Our Question: “Which VLE should we use?” Wrong Question! Our Question v2 What was our strategic aim for the VLE from a Teaching and Learning Perspective? How do we want our staff and students to interact? Our initial answer: We wanted as many lecturers to make course materials available as possible. 2003:

myLearning Essentials 1.0
Our solution:
•Build a (technically basic) portal •Add in the functionality we wanted •Make it so we could add more functionality later (Similar in spirit to the JISC MLE framework but technically much less ambitious!)

myLearning Essentials 1.0
Functionality: • Distribute course material • Course discussions • Access to documents off-site • Access to better web email • University news
Focus was largely on the University communicating with students

myLearning Essentials 1.1
• A year later added in more functionality, changing the communication flow:

• Student-to-Student
– For Sale boards – Accommodation wanted/offered etc

• Student-to-University
– „Poll of the month‟

2004: Time to update the IT Strategy…
University's Strategic Aim No.1: “To provide the highest quality student experience possible as the highest priority for the University of Wales, Newport”

Question: “What is the greatest contribution IT can make to the Student Experience?”

What makes a good student experience?
• • • • • Good computing facilities? Reliable service? Friendly support? Good VLE? …?

• What else?

Time to step back and take a wider view
• Blogs starting to get media coverage • eBay and iTunes entering mainstream • “What Can Internet Technologies Offer” - Brian Kelly – UCISA Conference 2004
“IM” “Blogs” “Wikis” “FOAF” “Let‟s Kill Email”

Our conclusion
• Emerging (Web 2.0) technologies could play an important role in supporting the University‟s main strategic aim.

• i.e. contribute to the overall student experience, not just improve teaching (although hopefully it would do that as well!)

Updating the IT Strategy
Two important statements made: 1) We will support existing (or emerging) Web 2.0 technologies such as Blogs, Wikis etc
Caveats relate to resourcing rather than technical issues

2) We are going to become an adaptive, agile service, and quickly support new technologies.
Funding for innovation included in the IT strategy.

Turning the strategy into action
• • We needed to learn more. Our approach:
– – – – Use the technology! Find out what your future students may want Find out what the students are doing Ask the students what they want

Using the technology: What did we find out?
We set up our own Blogs, Wiki and Jabber services, and used them to discuss the technologies – it worked!

What are our future students doing?
School children being are introduced to blogging when they are as young as 7 or 8 years old… …see www.think.com as a great example

What are our current students doing?
Our students use Web 2.0 applications eg. www.bebo.com to form social networks relating to the University.
Join it! (although it may make you feel old!)

What are our current students are doing (2) ?
Student are using freely available web applications to create their own communities.

Some presented the University in a good light, others maybe didn‟t

What do our current students want?
• myLearning Essentials Poll • Showed some level of interest in all technologies: • 64% wanted SMS notifications • 45% IM • 40% Discussion Boards • 33% Blogs, wiki, web space, social networking

Summary of the things we learnt (1)
• Students are already using Web 2.0 technologies, both to support their courses and for socials reasons. • We can no longer control the University‟s web presence, even if we wanted to. • Providing these sorts of services is not without risks • The risks don‟t all go away if we ignore these technologies.

Summary of the things we learnt (2)
• We can change the communication channels:
– University  Student (1.0) – Student  University (1.1) – Student  Student (1.1) – Staff/Student  Staff/Student (2.0) – Staff/Student  The World (2.0) • This is exciting from a student experience perspective! • The world is changing rapidly and we really do need to change too if our services aren‟t going to be boring and irrelevant!

Technical/IT Challenges (1)
• What services, if any do we need to provide?
– Isn‟t it all available out there for free? – What „value-added‟ can/should we provide?

• Conclusion: We do need to provide some services:
– – – – At the moment students and staff aren‟t all able to „just do it‟ We can provide good user support for beginners We can combine services to create a sense of community There are some important extras that we can add if we provide services ourselves (eg auto creation of RSS feed lists)

Technical/IT Challenges (2)
• Services we think we should provide: – Blogs – Instant Messaging – Wiki(s) – RSS enable Forums – Photo Galleries – SMS texting – Web 1.0 space • Services we think we should support/encourage – Social networking – Instant Messaging (external) – …

Technical/IT Challenges (3)
• How does our technical strategy need to change?
– Move to open source software? What extra skills do we need? – Being more agile and providing services quicker – How much change can uses take? – Accepting the world of perpetual beta? – Standardisation? One package fits all?

Teaching and Learning Challenges (1)
• Do we need to engage academic staff, or is this just a social media? • How do we engage academic staff? – Find a few advocates – others will be thinking the same thing – Give them early access to the technology – Ask for their views! • How could this technology be used? – How does this relate to traditional VLE functionaility? – Specific projects - eg Blogs as reflective journals?
• What about information literacy?

Teaching and Learning Challenges (2)
• How to we stop „technology overload‟ for academic staff? – Many are still getting to grips with our VLE/Web 1.0 technologies – We are going to „sell‟ this is a service for students in the first instance. • What sort language do we use to describe these services? – Person-centric vs Topic-centric? – Asking vs Telling? – How do you explain when to use a blog, a wiki or a forum?

Marketing Challenges
• How does this fit into our existing Web 1.0 site? – Still a need for this for formal, structured information • What if people say „the wrong thing‟? – They will anyway! – Hopefully people will present a positive image as well. • How do we use this technologies to sell the University?

Other issues
• Clear from our forum experience you need clear guidelines on use • Legal issue e.g. libel – need good procedures for removing material if necessary • What do we do if it all goes wrong? Make services internal only? Remove them completely?

What we plan to do next…
• Fully deploy Web 2.0 technology!

• Plans for next academic year: – MyCommunity (working title!) – blogs, wikis, RSS enabled forums etc provided to everyone – Instant Messenger and SMS Texting services added – Research projects on using Web 2.0 technologies for teaching

Question and Contact Details
Any Questions?

Contact details: Email: Michael.Webb@newport.ac.uk Blog: http://blog.newport.ac.uk/blogs/michael

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