Friday, October 31, 2008

University and Web 2.0

I was asked to provide some input to an article for a business magazine in Lithuania. I have included some clarification around my University 2.0

1. What is University 2.0 in general?

University 2.0 is a term that I (and others) have used to describe how the principles of Web 2.0 have or will effect the University / Education industry.

Maybe a quick look at what Web 2.0 is, from my perspective will help.

Web 2.0.

Web 2.0 is made up of three areas, Technology, Interaction styles, Solutions.

Technology would include those defined my O'Reilly e.g. RSS, REST, AJAX etc

Interaction Styles: define how a user's interactions with friends, colleagues, data and business processes has been effected through the implementation of the technology.

Solutions: Many web 2.0 solutions have been created that incorporate this new technology and the associated interaction styles e.g. Blogs, wikis, social networking

The sum of Web 2.0 is that is creates change. From an individuals perspective it increases their "participation" with digital media both in consumption (time- we watch a lot less TV these days) and content creation. From a businesses point of view it presents new disruptive business models e.g. social lending, eBay, Amazon, Reference Goldcorp, reference Lego and mindstorms.

Back to University 2.0, Web 2.0 has changed the way in which people want to consume information. All forms of information are now available on the web, this information is getting organised; isn't organised information presented in a manner conducive to learning the same as a University?

However, a Uni is primarily a research establishment. From someone who sits outside of academia it is very hard to easily access the latest research for free. It is also difficult to see what areas are being researched - there may be many people out on the web who can contribute to the latest research but Universities maintain their walls to the outside world...

University 2.0 is a way at looking how Web 2.0 is effecting and will effect academia from a teaching and a research perspective.

2. Is University 2.0 more university or IT business driven initiative? How did it all start?

University 2.0 is driven by people.

Web 2.0 is really about people and how it changes the way people work with data and communicate / collaborate with each other. This has a knock on effect to any industry where there are people working in that organisation, this includes Universities.

Technology is an enabler but you need people to actually use the technology. Using the technology to perform activities in new ways is what is causing the change.

3. Does University 2.0 mean a new technology used for teaching students or a new concept of knowledge management at the universities?

Students are encouraged to learn continuously and build a leaning network (people and resources) that enables them to achieve this. University 2.0 is a way for a university to get back some of the control of its students contributions and participation and to financially benefit from it.

At the moment students are using many different mechanisms for collaborative learning. e.g. Facebook, Wikihow, Notemesh, flickr etc (not sure if you have seen this preso as well

The Universities have no control of these learning mechanisms and they have no control or more importantly ownership over the content that their students are producing.

My understanding is that a University owns all the content a Student produces. If a student creates content for a University class, posts it somewhere and makes financial gain, is that financial gain owned by the university or the student or both? My interpretation of a University is that the university owns the content but they are not in a position to benefit - U2.0 addresses this.

U2.0 delivers a new way of accessing and interacting with Knowledge for the benefit of the Universities and the students.

4. What benefits does a using of Web 2.0 technologies in University environment reap?

It enhances the ability for Students to self-learn and co-create (team) with fellow students. The same apples to research students. The majority of Universities today still use email and attachments as the number 1 method for collaboration. Wikis are gaining ground but tend to be delivered in an ad-hoc manner and usually by a third party (the production environment is not managed by the University). The same applies to blogging and Instant Messaging infrastructures.

While on the surface this may be enough to enable a rich learning and research environment it does not address ownership of content and address ïs this the best way for students and researchers to interact?".

If Universities get better control of content creation and distribution they may be able to achieve financial and productivity gains.

5. You talk about universities paying students for content in your presentations. Does it work already? Are there any real world examples?

I am not aware of there being any live examples where Universities are paying students for content. But there are examples where content created by students is benefiting Universities, Ref iTunes.

This article shows that some Universities understand that the content produced by students is very valuable when they compete in a global market to attract the brightest students and researchers.

6. How Hollywood studio model is related to university in the web 2.0 world?

What does a Hollywood studio do? It creates content e.g. films, TV and then sells it to distributors e.g. Sky TV, satellite carriers who in turn receive revenue from the content consumers in the form of monthly charges for desktop boxes(decoders) and advertising that is mixed in with the content.

A University is essentially the same. It produces content, (i) teaching materials (ii) research and then distributes it to (i) students (ii) Corporations. The manner in which it does this is by using traditional methods of a walled access environment (slide 10).

Web 2.0 has opened up the methods of distribution. If we look at FOX we can see that as a Hollywood studio that produces content they also distribute via their own channels and more recently via the internet. Delivering content via the internet directly competes with those Satellite and cable distributors.

Lets look at Educational Content, there is a growing body of information on the web that allows you to learn for free about a whole range of subjects e.g. learnThat and A point may be reached overtime (we are not there ywt) when we compare the productive learning of a student at a university and a student at a free educational social networking site is the same.

Reference Slide 6.

If universities continue to produce students that do not meet the needs of industry then what value do they deliver and perhaps more importantly, what is the value of a university degree? A degree is little more than a "brand" and proof of a certain level achieved.

As educational social networking sites mature the only thing missing is validation of their students achievement by an independent body. If this hurdle can be addressed then The universities Brand becomes almost irrelevant...although I think the top Universities brands such as Oxford and Harvard will remain.

7. Does it all mean that universities are becoming (or should become) business organizations?

Universities are already businesses. I think they will struggle to maintain their grasp / control on education and research if they continue to follow their existing models.

8. How a traditional research in universities is affected by the new web 2.0 technologies?

As above, (I think!)

9. If universities engage with business model in University 2.0 how are they different from and the like? Or can InnoCentive be called an University 2.0?

InnoCentive is a public arena where people meet to collaborate and solve problems. IBM delivers a solution called innovation jam which looks at key areas across Business and the community to seek answers and ideas from IBM staff and IBM customers and business partners.

I have a vision for what Web 2.0 can deliver to Universities and the world. Web 2.0 has the potential to flatten the world and make the ability to learn and contribute to the solving the problems of the day open to anyone. Ref Goldcorp model

I believe that Universities as we know them have reached the end of the road. In order to evolve to the next level of education and research it will require change in the ways that this is undertaken. As discussed there are free web sites where students can learn and where individuals or teams can solve business problems ref: IBM's innovation Jam but the real challenge is bringing this all together. I believe that universities can lead the way.

The first step would be to deliver all their content both, teaching courses and research in a creative commons license with a mechanism for a single point of contact and webservice access (to enable mashups - see Lotus Mashups). Combine this information with a best of breed collaboration environment such as Innovation Jam we can bring together people who are interested in solving the problems of the day.

Let the focus of learning and research not be about getting access to information but be about innovating because innovation is the highest value return from learning and research.

**to answer your question, the InnoCentive model is part of the picture but behind this InnovationJam model needs to sit a rich pool of supporting information (University Research) that is accessible to all.

1 comment:

Jose Carlos said...

Excellent post!. I think users(students, teachers and researches) are key roles to burst the inertia to University 2.0 movement (bottom-up adoption).