Friday, December 15, 2006

Univ of Manitoba Adopts Web 2.0 Approach to Learning

Right on.

This would be a great component to wrap around a course management system. I would love to see something like an ELGG network ("ELGG Spaces") that encompasses the CMS.

The University of Manitoba is trying out a new approach to education that borrows from popular social networking and information sites such as MySpace and Wikipedia.

The school's Virtual Learning Commons website lets staff and students create academic and personal profile pages they can use to share information or make new contacts.

The site, launched in September, was designed to take advantage of so-called Web 2.0 technologies commonly used to build online communities.

The approach is meant to foster learning through social collaboration and openness, Peter Tittenberger, the acting director of the university's learning technology centre said.

"The VLC allows students and staff an opportunity to connect, discuss, share and create content online as an entire university community — not at a course level," he said in a written statement. "It also allows students to define what they want to talk about, what's important to them and gives them a platform to discuss those concerns." Read Entire Article.....

The U of Manitoba's Virtual Learning Commons also contains:
  • an assignment manager (" The Assignment Manager will create a step-by-step schedule for you so you can successfully complete your assignments.")
  • online writing center
  • calendar ("The Calendar pulls together all items from the Assignment Manager and your To Do's.")
Those sound like CMS tasks to me....

Friday, December 08, 2006

Google=Next Generation Course Management System

The course management system as we know it is at a crossroads in its short history as an enterprise-level web-based learning tool. Even before the acquisition of WebCT by Blackboard, "CMS 1.0" users were often lamenting its shortcomings.

At the same time enthusiasm about the viability of CMS 1.0 has waned (though use of it by instructors and students is still increasing), many advancements and changes have occurred with Internet tools and services. The proliferation of portals, feeds and Ajax techniques--combined with consumers' love for creating, sharing, and storing personalized media and text (often at no or low-cost)--have ushered in a new wave of user-friendly web applications dubbed Web 2.0.

When Arizona State University announced they partnered with Google to provide university email service through the "Google Apps for Education" program, it wasn't the fact that they essentially outsourced a key function of their institution's central IT unit (though that in itself should have registered on the Richter scale) that is significant. More profound is what they will be able to accomplish in the (very near?) future. ASU's Chief Technology Officer, Adrian Sannier, describes the new technical development track ASU has jumped upon:

"At ASU we have recognized that the accelerated pace of technological change is outstripping the development capacity of internal university IT organizations. The cottage industry phase of the information revolution is rapidly approaching its end.

ASU recognizes that if we are to realize the full potential of this rapidly evolving technology, our internal IT organizations must somehow leave behind the provisioning of individual services and climb the value chain to focus on the application and integration of rapidly emerging capabilities to continuously improve the university’s core activities.

Which is why we are so excited by our alliance with Google — because the Google alliance not only provides a vastly superior capability for our students on the day we unwrap the box it places ASU on Google’s exponential technology development trajectory."

This is precisely why I look to Google for producing what we have all been waiting for...CMS 2.0, aka The Next Generation CMS.

Take a look at the current slate of Google's tools and how they compare with current CMS 1.0 tools:

Google Groups -- Course sites
Google Calendar -- CMS calendar
Gmail -- campus mail or CMS message system
Google start page -- My Home or CMS portal page

Can you see the similarities? Can you imagine the improvements a Google-based CMS might offer?

Take the next step and look at some of Google's other tools:

Google Search Appliance (UW is already using this. Does our current CMS offer a search mechanism?)
Google Images, Google Video, Google Scholar (Global leader in search and storage capabilities. Institutional repository?)
Blogger, JotSpot, and Google Page Creator (Leading tools for anyone to publish and collaborate. Our collaboration tools? Paralyzed in committees.)

How hard would it be for Google's rather large team of developers to integrate these into a coherent system? Hmmm...

There's a lot more to come on this topic, but for now, please leave your comments.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Businesses are slow to adopt Web 2.0 concepts

"Web 2.0 technologies are penetrating companies at a very low rate because most business leaders have a meager understanding of the basic concepts."

From Wisconsin Technology Network newsletter....Good article with links to a few Madison examples of business-based blogs.