Monday, February 23, 2009

Six ways to make web 2.0 work

Via Jane Hart comes a timely article from the Mckinsey Quarterly on six ways to make web 2.0 work.

Last week I participated in a planning meeting for staff developers & an Education strategy group meeting on ‘Working on the Teaching and Learning Plan - Priorities, Realities and the way forward’ at. The Ed Strag group at CPIT is made up of senior management & is a think tank / talk fest / networking group which discusses various organisational strategies so that implementation of said strategy is democratised.

I have always seen the opportunities that Web 2.0 provided as a good way to assist with knowledge sharing, networking & knowledge creation within CPIT & the ITPNZ sector. I blogged previously on the power of wikis & especially about the books by Tapscott on wikinomics & Wikipatterns by Mader. Recently I had a brief read of Enterprise 2.0 implementation by Aaron Newman & Jeremy Thomas via Google books.

Small changes have taken place over the last two years at CPIT to improve organisational communications. Our CEO forums are all archived & there are opportunities for staff to join discussion forums on CPIT wide issues. However, getting people to engage with web 2.0 type tools in the workplace has been an up hill struggle. So the six recommendations come at the correct time to trigger some thinking about how CPIT could leverage web 2.0 to assist in promoting ongoing learning within the organisation. The recommendations are along with present context are:-

1) The transformation to a bottom-up culture needs help from the top:- We seem to have buy-in from the top but I don’t think the bottom knows about it.

2) The best uses come from users—but they require help to scale:- This is where staff development & IT need to assist. Staff development with providing pertinent training where required & IT with more user friendly ‘help’ facilities.

3) What’s in the workflow is what gets used:- Attempts have been made to include timetabling, planning and work plans into one area but at this time not all the elements are ready & so there is an interruption in workflow to do any planning or communication as our main groupwise calendars do not talk to our main timetable management system or to the organisational wide strategic planning database.

4) Appeal to the participants’ egos and needs—not just their wallets:- We showcase people who have good ideas but perhaps we are not using the correct forums, methods or not promoting these occasions well.

5) The right solution comes from the right participants:- Identifying the right participants is a key & then supporting, nurturing and promoting them. This is something we can still improve on.

6) Balance the top-down and self-management of risk:- We need to study this one more and adjust to our current context.

Web 2.0 is a tool that can be used to improve the flow of knowledge & innovation within our institute. This is especially so when faculties, schools and divisions are still working within vertical silos. There is still a need to harness the wisdom that is all over the institute by providing the right tools, building awareness of these tools & providing the right support at the right time so that the use of these tools can be maximised.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Google Books

During the summer, I put several weeks into extending on a first draft of my PhD thesis. One of the tasks was to ensure that all the references cited were accurate, down to page numbers for quotes. I have worked on ensuring that all the references I come across are written up on to index cards. Each index card details the bibliographical details along with pertinent page numbers etc. of relevant quotes. An important part of the index cards is information on where I found the journal or book. This is so that if I need to return to the source I will be able to do so. All of the information is eventually transported across to Endnotes which makes citing and referencing much easier.

Well, as usual, I missed a few but then I found Google Books offers limited previews of many of the books I needed to get back to. So I managed to find all the pertinent missed pages by looking them up on Google books. This caused me to explore the capabilities of Google books for further reading. I set up my library over a couple of hours of browsing. Now, most of the books are but a couple of clicks away instead of a trip to the university library on wet weekends. However, nothing beats browsing a shelf of books & being able to serendipitously unearth books that are real gems.

The ability to access such a large number of books is a real asset for all educators and researchers. Even though most of the books are only available as ‘limited preview’ there is enough provided in the books to provide a good sense of the overall content of the book. I have already referred a number of books I found & previewed on to our library’s list of books to obtain. The ability to set up a library also provides educators with the ability to build specific libraries that their students can dip into as well. All of which leads to less trees being felled to provide ‘readings’ to students. The advantage of having all the content online also means that I am able to (if I wanted) access my library on my phone which came in useful over the weekend when discussing evolution with a walking friend. I was able to access my library & show her a copy of Richard Dawkins – The selfish gene while we were up on the Port Hills 300m plus above Christchurch. Layout of the webpage was a bit wonky but I see today that Google books is now configured & available to Adroid & iphone users. Hopefully they are going to set out a Windows Mobile version soon.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Blog talk radio

Liz Kolb who blogs on ‘from toy to tool; cellphones in learning’ also runs cellphones in learning at blogtalk radio – a really good resource that reports on what educators are doing with their cell phones. The episodes so far include text messaging projects on cellphones, creating professional development for teachers interested in using cellphones for teaching and learning, ideas for using cellphone cameras and rules and regulations for cellphone use in schools.

The site works on my Treo as well, I could not play the radio programme / podcast directly but could download the programme and then play it back. Download time was a few minutes, so not too trying & the file was not too big. The cheaper way to do this would be to download on to my laptop & sync across to the Treo.

So this is another podcast that I can listen to when I walk the dog. Podcasts are a good way to distribute content. However because I am not a very audio person, I find it difficult to remember details that I listen to & it is difficult to take notes while walking the dog. I will need to find out from my students whether they listen to podcasts. I know that most listen to music or the radio but few listen to radio programmes that have a lot of talk. It will also be important to find out the amount of time that students are willing to listen to podcasts and what content they will be most interested in listening to.