Social Software/Web 2.0 Technologies Research Project




Introduction by Mary Hannan:

powered by ODEO
Audio part one: Michael and Josie talk about project achievements (5min):

powered by ODEO
Audio part two: Michael and Josie talk about integration and plans for the future (4+min):

powered by ODEO

Val Evans from the Social Software/Web 2.0 Technologies Research Project has invited us to share our story of using Social Softwares.

Technologies - aim

Social software allows a whole new level of interaction, communication and knowledge-sharing. For example, our project blog has added dynamism and movement to project reporting, and has allowed us as a team to keep people informed about latest developments as they occur.

We wanted to model ways to use the new tools, provide opportunities for project leaders to find out more about what is available, and develop strategies for using these tools.
  • Knowledge-sharing: wider audience, and other partners. Sharing information with previously funded projects, so they can continue their involvement, aiming to create a wider sense of community and networking, around e-learning in adult community education.
  • Project management - these tools provide a record of activities, which help in promotion and reporting to the wider Framework community and stakeholders.
  • Project teams are also using tools to share knowledge amongst their learners, partners, and wider communities.

Main accomplishment

We have set up a range of tools, and begun to model their use. In 2005 we commenced with an EdNA Groups area, and found there has been a significant spin-off effect; Tasmanian Communities online (TCO) set up their own EdNA Group last year; while Milang (MOSH) set up their own version of Moodle.

In 2006, we aimed to expand out from the EdNA Group, and explore other kinds of online spaces; such as blogs, wikis, image-sharing, podcasting, news headlines and feeds, live conferencing areas, online presentations and digital storytelling. For us as a project working with community based organisations, their appeal lies in their relative simplicity, the fact that they are free and more accessible than they used to be.

Many of the 2006 projects have picked up on this and are also exploring their own virtual learning environments for engaging learners in their communities. For example tools and technologies currently being used in the projects are:
  • Deadly Mob: Moodle, Elluminate, Gcast, Youtube
  • Harnessing Rural skills: Moodle (StudyZone.net), Elluminate, Protopage, YouTube, PBWiki, Blogger.com,
  • BRACE: SharePoint, Elluminate
  • Murraylands e-Reach: Elluminate, Protopage
  • NQ Small Business: Centra
  • The Edge: looking at social software for learners next year, as a tool for re-engaging young people. The project had some success in using a wiki for reporting back / evaluation purposes

Each project has chosen the applications that best suit the needs of their learners, teachers and communities.
Each project team has had wide-ranging skills including technical ability (always good to have a person on the team who can translate technologies into teaching and learning possibilities).

Key benefits

  • For the project team: Raising the profile of the project.
  • For participants and users: having access to a stream of information through the blog; access to a knowledge-building community and knowledge base through the wiki; having access to promotional materials via the podcasts and image-sharing resources.
  • For organisations in general: seeing these tools in action, gaining an idea of how such a model could work. Project leaders can use these tools as a way to keep their partners informed about progress and events.

Changes

Involving everyone more fully, develop a strategy for linking these tools more seamlessly, engaging people in the projects to see the knowledge base as a usable resource; and tailoring our professional development activities to these ends.

Future vision

Ultimately we would like an integrated suite of products that are accessible and easy to manage. On doing so we will need to:
  • Make sure that we enable project partners to fully engage with these processes, and see the potential value of the tools in teaching, learning and community-building.
  • Encourage project participants to contribute, by being clear with projects about the advantages of contributing to the collective pool of knowledge.
  • Make social software tools integral to training delivery support; eg. at the induction session, we can give a hands-on overview and support materials.
  • Resource the process and examine our administrative processes, to make sure each project has a person who will be involved in the promotion and knowledge-sharing; to ensure participants have time to contribute their knowledge and experience.

Hints and Tips

flickr_on_pageflakes_by_chalk_-_screenshot_2.jpgMake blogging a regular part of your project work. Write up your conference notes at the end of the day, ready to send them to a blog post later on. These tools make it easier to share the knowledge you've gained - but you still have to find the time to use them.

An open source mantra is "release early, release often" - so just get started and see what happens. Iron out the bugs as you go.

Promotion is still important. People need to know where to find your blog, or they'll never read it. Keep it current and active. People don't read static websites.

You can re-use many aspects. For example an audio post on Odeo, or a video on YouTube, can be "embedded" into many different sites. News headlines can also be "syndicated", and re-published in many venues. You might look for an application that can tie all this together into a easily accessible, primary web presence.

If you're signing up for a whole range of web applications and services, start off with a free email account (eg Yahoo or Gmail), which you can use to confirm all of your new accounts. Best to get a new email address especially, as you may need to sign over your project to someone else. (in fact, to use flickr, your secondary email address needs to not already have an account as well.)

You've trusted your data to many different services and servers - make sure you backup, and keep plenty of copies on your own computers.

Our Spaces




social_software_by_leighblackall_at_flickr.jpg
Thanks very much to Leigh Blackall for the image.