Welcome to “R2N–Web 2.0”—shorthand for an interesting and lively video on the Web about Web 2.0 and the modern college campus.
I was fortunate enough to be asked by Casey Green of CampusComputing.net to participate in a four-person panel on what Web 2.0 means to the academy. Here’s a link to the Ready2Net Webcast titled “Web 2.0 Comes to Campus” (hosted by Cal State Monterey Bay).
The panel Casey hosted included: Mark Armstrong, VP of development at Oracle; Jim Ptraszynski, senior director for world-wide education strategy at Microsoft; Jim Edmunds, president of Ingeniux, a Web-based content management solution; and me, VP education strategy at Blackboard.
Is Web 2.0 a bunch of techno-babble or is it real?
According to the panel, it’s quite real and brought to life by a set of technologies that can talk easily with one another and—in the current parlance—can even be mashed up. This means the world is just not as rigid as it once was. Want to Blog, simply find a tool (open or proprietary) and add to it what you are already doing?
Mark Armstrong from Oracle said, “The question we get to is, ‘How can we unlock a relatively complex set of applications to enable our users to get at the rich data in the system?’” In other words: get more choices in the hands of individuals. In the 2.0 world, the Web should facilitate, not dictate.
Ingeniux, which powers the Web sites of a number of campuses, sees Web 2.0 as “rooted in the traditional concept of enabling the few to publish to the many.” This will inevitably, according to Jim Edmunds, “make the Web a live environment.”
I like that. When can we finally bust out of the Web as a static text and pictures with a little bit of streaming video?
Jim Edmunds says we’ll move from being in controlled environments to each and every one of us controlling the environment we use for a multiplicity of purposes.
Jim Ptaszynski, who has a business faculty background, says Microsoft thinks in terms of corporate clients and collaboration—“capturing organizational intelligence and being able to communicate and collaborate with that.” He points to the deep and growing capacity in Microsoft’s SharePoint™. So it’s not just students, it’s adults too.
The genie in the bottle here is transition from the static world of HTML to the dynamic aware-of-itself world of XML. Once content had some intelligence about what it actual was, who owned it and what else it belongs to, the Web began to get legs. These legs were and are propelled by database standards that allow many operations in and around content use with more and more control migrating to users. The question now is when will the Web get wings?
For my contribution, I pointed toward taking the friction out of the academic world, reducing the friction, making things move faster and quicker for all sides in education. If we don’t move fast in education, institutions will simply not hold on to students. They will migrate around the obstacles like a river taking a short cut.
However, there is a generational rub. Who is going to keep faculty members and older users (a half generation away from the youngest student) up to date and at what cost?
Welcome to the 2.0 Campus. My suggestion: Put the students in charge of teaching technologies and let the faculty be in charge of the learning content.
Web 2.0 is already alive and well at Blackboard. While we are looking at Web 2.0 for more student-centered learning, we also see opportunities to improve the flow of knowledge and data. Going beyond blogs and wikis, new social software like social bookmarking is already finding application in Scholar, which enables student and faculty members in similar disciplines around the world collaborate on Web research.
For our panel of four and our well-informed host, the conversation went from the 2.0 world of Ajax, wikis, Second Life and blogs to two other larger issues: the growing separation between generations and how campuses keep up—in time and money— with the complexity brought on by Web 2.0.
Part of this is in the inevitable transformation to the twenty-first century campus, some of which will eventually reflect many of the Web’s reality in the operation of the campus.
I can’t say we solved any of these issues, but if you tune into the Ready2Net Webcast titled “Web 2.0 Comes to Campus” (hosted by Cal State Monterey Bay), you can get a feel for the strategic conversation that we think is necessary on campuses—a new round of planning about making the life of students and faculty members work better, faster and with more satisfying results.