Gathering principles for Web 2.0 – PLEs

The PLEs@CQUni project is attempting to figure out how/if social software, web 2.0 etc can be effectively used at CQUni to improve learning and teaching. I’m part of a group attempting to figure out how we can do this, figure out what works, what doesn’t and get these technologies/ideas used effectively.

As part of this process we need to think about the principles that underpin these technologies and identify how they can used, what problems they will pose and how we can investigate further what they mean for the students and staff of CQUni. This post is, hopefully, the start of a gathering of and perhaps some reflection on what others have already written about these principles.

Web 2.0

In this Slideshare presentation ???? lists the following principles of Web 2.0 (no references)

  • No products but services – “There are no products, only solutions”
    Which seems to focus on simple solutions to customer needs identified through a problem solving approach. This has some implication for the processes to be used, a sense-making, adopter focused approach could be argued to be more appropriate.
  • Customisation
    Allow the user to choose, don’t force them to use what you have made. Allow them to incorporate what we provide into their “home” in a way that they choose. This is exactly the opposite of what happens in traditional IT divisions where the focus is on providing one way to do things as that is cheaper and easier to support.
  • Focus on the “long tail”
    Don’t focus on just the majority, look to all of the folk. Look to leverage customer self-service?
  • Harness collective intelligence
    Make use of network effects, wisdom of crowds etc. Make the results of that collective knowledge available to the user. Try to encourage participation, easier said than done because only a small percentage of folk will contribute. Implications about openness and trust which may prove challenging in an organisational setting.
  • Specialised databases
    Claims that every significant Web 2.0 application has been backed by a specialised database (e.g. Google, Amazon, eBay etc.). Potential connection here, the specialised database for PLEs@CQUni would be the CQU specific data: course content, discussions, staff and student knowlege about the learning experience etc.
  • Who owns the data
    A particularly interesting question in this context where information sharing isn’t typically near the top of the agenda.
  • Perpetual beta
    No more version numbers. It’s always being improved in small ways. This has interesting implications when an organisation is using traditional project based development approaches. i.e. where the developers only get to work on specific projects selected by their management. An approach that generally has to have version numbers.
  • Software above the level of a single device
    Move away from the computer focus, support different devices, allow use on any.

The honeycomb approach Gene Smith has taken identifies seven building blocks for social software. Those seven are:

  • Identity – a way of uniquely identifying people in the system
  • Presence – a way of knowing who is online, available or otherwise nearby
  • Relationships – a way of describing how two users in the system are related (e.g. in Flickr, people can be contacts, friends of family)
  • Conversations – a way of talking to other people through the system
  • Groups – a way of forming communities of interest
  • Reputation – a way of knowing the status of other people in the system (who’s a good citizen? who can be trusted?)
  • Sharing – a way of sharing things that are meaningful to participants (like photos or videos)

2 thoughts on “Gathering principles for Web 2.0 – PLEs

  1. Jocene

    Are “solutions” “products”?

    The harnessing of collective intelligence conjures up implications for plagiarism. This is apparently a very western view of intellectual property. Some of the international students whom I have addressed at Student Orientation sessions advise me that in some places, the act of ripping off someone else’s ideas, which I might call plagiarism, may alternatively be viewed as a highly complimentary to the author. Do these viewpoints stem from cultural conditioning? Probably. And is this relevant to the creation of a new web environment for a culture of shared learning?
    And am I making sense? Probably not.Yet.

  2. G’day Jocene,

    My read on the product/solution distinction is one based on what I see a lot within universities and their IT departments. Though I’m sure those of CQU and Swinburne don’t suffer this problem.

    Talking about a product means that the focus of all consideration is on the product and its features. Answers to problems become, “with product X you do it this way”, “with product X, you can’t do that”. The focus is on the product and how to use it.

    A solution focus means the emphasis is on provide the best answer to the problem, rather than on the best way to solve the problem with the current product.

    IT departments at universities are increasingly driven by saving money, as measured by their bottom line. This is often done by selecting a product and then seeing every problem as being an application of the product because this is the selected product and its cheaper to use it.

    This creates a sustained inattentional blindness where they do not see the money the organisation is wasting because staff and clients are having to work around the limitations of the product. This is because the way they see the world (IT’s bottom line) does not capture the other values.

    There is a question about how much Web 2.0 type thinking impacts upon traditional notions of plagiarism and academic integrity. There has been work in this area, but I’ve somewhat ignored it.

    It’s something we should perhaps look at. Not sure where it ranks in the long list of things to look at though.


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