Social Social Sofware/Web 2.0 Technologies Research Project
Input from NSW LearnScope to research conducted by Val Evans and colleagues.

Listen to our podcast on the topic here.

Tools and modes for connection and communication in 2006.

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In 2006 NSW LearnScope has made an effort to model the use of social software tools and Web2.0 approaches that are easily accessible, quick to master and which have immediate uses in a VTE learning environment. We began the year with only FlickR, an EdNA Group and of course email, phone and central face to face events.
By mid year a blog was in place. Integrating a blog into Framework practice and style guides etc provided some challenges and the resulting site illustrates a compromise that has worked relatively well. The wiki started to be used mid year to enable presenters at the Aug3 workshops to outline sessions for participants. Around this time Alex Hayes came onboard and worked to strengthen those tools via feeds, to enrich offerings by introducing audio and video, and to connect our management tools to the team spaces, and vice versa.
FlickR has grown in strength this year and we currently have over 1000 images tagged nswlearnscope06.

How things are evolving

Here's an attempt to briefly capture how things are evolving over time.

The value and benefits of social software
  • ease of use
  • to increase connectivity, collaboration and conversation
  • provide a 'voice' for individuals
  • provide global networking and sharing
  • teachers and learners as producers/publishers

Challenges and improvements needed
  • continued tensions between system/organisational security/integrity, and the needs of teachers and learners using these tools in innovative, effective ways in learning programs
  • tools developed for purposes other than teaching and learning are never perfect for our needs
  • issues around public online storage/sharing spaces
  • under 18s and web access
  • the lack of a reliable, easy to use, accessible (from behind firewalls) storage, sharing repository for products (we need a repository where teachers can easily upload a digital story - title it, tag it, add comments, and other teachers can download for use)

Hints and tips for the use of social software for project management and/or knowledge sharing
  • focus on function rather than on the tools - tools change, functions don't
  • select the most accessible, easy to use tool to meet the functional need
  • be flexible, be prepared to swap tools, try new things etc - don't get locked into one solution
  • provide step by step how to guides - people still like hard copy guides
  • provide real case studies of how tools can be used immediately in teaching and learning programs