Making Web 2.0 Work

A recent article on ‘Six ways to make Web 2.0 work’ (1) highlights some barriers to effective implementation in business and suggests some success factors.

From researching 50 early adopters, the strategy consultants McKinsey & Company highlight dissatisfaction with Web 2.0 technologies as resulting from impediments such as: organisational structure; inability of managers to understand the new levers of change; and a lack of understanding about how Web 2.0 tools create value.

They identify six categories of use and suggest that unless these and their role in the organisation are understood success will be elusive. The factors suggested as determinants of the outcomes of efforts to use Web 2.0 technologies are:

  • The transformation to a bottom-up culture needs help from the top.
  • The best uses come from users – but they require help to scale.
  • What’s in the workflow is what gets used.
  • Appeal to the participants’ egos and needs.
  • The right solution comes from the right participants.
  • Balance the top-down and self-management of risk.

What are the lessons and implications here for us all as facilitators of learning? Discuss!

Roger Dence

(1)  The McKinsey Quarterly, February 2009, 7pp. Available at: http://www.mckinseyquarterly.com/ accessed 20th February 2009

How is Free Free?

Open educational resources have been the buzz here at BDRA for some time now so I ran a quick search through the stuff stored in my hard drive for anything with the words Open Source in the title. What I am interested in is what motivates people to put out in the World Wide Web for free things that other people normally sell. Why is free free? And why free is free mainly in the world of Internet and software/technology? By the way I’m not counting mobile phone free minutes as free, they are a Machiavellian extortion plot. Still, why does Google give me all the services provided by Google Mail for free? Why does Mozilla come for free? Open Office? Are educational resources (such as course content and delivery) different or similar to Google Mail, Open Office and my free WAV to MP3 decoder? What does free mean?

MIT’s OpenCourseWare is probably the best known example of open educational content. Recently I came across this resource, which I like much better:

http://academicearth.org/

It is a portal, an online hub for videos of university lectures and other educational content. Last time I checked, its first page offered a full video course on The American Novel since 1945 by a Yale academic, a course on Classical Mechanics from MIT which I can only describe as super cool (featuring the professor swaying on a swing in a big lecture hall) and a lecture on political science by the author of The World Is Flat Thomas Friedman. Some of the courses (not all) come with the exam papers and solutions to the exam questions. Truth be told, most of the content is lectures rather than complete courses. And the institutions participating in the project are names that need not fear that prospective students would, instead of enrolling, devour the open educational content and fly to better pastures. Participating institutions are MIT, Yale, Berkeley, Harvard, Princeton and Stanford. Why do institutions participate in initiatives like this? What is the motivation of the institution? Of the author of the content? Well, in the best traditions of adventure movies, I shall leave you with this cliffhanger – watch this space for the answers on the 13th of March (to add to the drama, it will be Friday 13th….).

And if you are interested in cool applications and gadgets for free, these people offer The Best of selection:

http://www.webappers.com/

Sandra, BDRA 

Gurus of the 21st Century

In the Era of Learning 2.0, we want our students to be knowledge diggers and sharers, independent and evaluative learners, highly motivated to achieve, more supportive and yet more constructively critical of each others’ work. Don’t we?

What if there was a webby platform that supported these fine aspirations? Would we encourage its use?
Gradeguru.com (an offshoot of publishing group McGraw Hill) offers a way forward. Does this help?

Many academics I’ve talked to are largely unconvinced that taking part will be little more than a diversion and might be harmless to learning!

Grade guru just signed a contract with Turnitin so plagiarism is partly taken care of…. Motivation is incentived with vouchers for the most popular posts, judged by the users.

Gilly Salmon

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