Academia 2.0 workshop at ECSCW’09

At ECSCW’07, I was running a workshop on GSD and couldn’t attend the one organised by Michael Koch and Wolfgang Prinz on Web 2.0. As this workshop took place next door from ours, I couldn’t avoid noticing the enthusiasm and the fun the participants had.

For the current edition- ECSCW’09 in Vienna, Michael Koch and Isa Jahnke proposed the workshop Academia 2.0 and beyond – How Social Software changes research and education in academia, and it was one of the workshops that generated a lot of interest.

The organisers put together a wiki page and a  blog was created to allow the participants to publish their own position papers and to get acquainted to the others’.

The workshop was structured in two parts: the morning was dedicated to the applications of web 2.0 tools in education, while in the afternoon we spoke about the applications of the same tools in research.

During the morning session, I was scheduled to fill the first slot. I had prepared slides, but it seemed to me that things were very relaxed and I decided to speak from my place instead, with no visuals. All I had to share were stories about tools I’ve used in both education and research, their adoption(or rejection!) by various groups, the feedback I got and what I’ve learned from these. My position paper can be accessed here. The discussion flew from there – there were a lot of interesting contributions, stories and solutions shared. Here are some of the things we spoke about:

  • different student groups have different needs – one size doesn’t fit all!
  • the use of social media tools almost always generate more work for the students, and more work for the teachers as well. But:
  • most of the students love the feeling of having created content that becomes public and can be seen as a meaningful contribution;
  • the first cohort of students using a specific tool seem to have the hardest time; once  examples are out there, and a precedent was created, things seem to work better.
  • the introduction of social media tools tends to add more problems, as these tools are brought in to support an old paradigm.
  • the use of social media tools is challenging  academics and students to update their own teaching/learning style.

A number of interesting questions came up – here are just a few of the ones I jotted down:

  • do students like social media tools?
  • do social media tools really support learning?
  • do these tools make learning more attractive?
  • are teaching institutions interested in supporting this adoption?
  • what is the impact of social media adoption on the position of the teacher? Is he still the expert, or his role is shifting more toward facilitating knowledge sharing?

The afternoon was dedicated to social software applications in research: e-science, research collaboratories. I heard a lot of interesting things about various communities using web 2.0 tools, and also about various initiatives and projects meant to facilitate collaboration at distance, serendipity and open sharing.

September 12 2009 12:19 pm | conferences and Events

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