Monday, 11 June 2007

JISC Web2.0 for teaching and learning report

A very interesting report has recently been published by JISC. Web2.0 for content for teaching and learning in Higher Education by Tom Franklyn and Mark van Harmelen makes many interesting observations and though (as the title would suggest) focusing on the teaching and learning world has much to interest those concerned with the impact of web2.0 on administrative systems and processes. Indeed I would be very interested to see a sister report produced on just this area.

One of the key issues addressed by this report is the pros and cons of an institution developing their own brand 'official' versions of web2.0 applications for use by their staff and students' versus allowing use of externally provided commercial systems. As the report itself makes clear there are certainly advantages to the first route and this is likely, I suspect, to be the favoured option with records managers: not least because of the potential it provides to impose a greater degree of control over this space. It may not be the kind of micro level of control we are used to aiming for, but could at least provide the means of designing applications with certain records management functionality built within it (bearing in mind the need to retain the kind of 'light touch approach in the use of regulations that might constrain experimentation' advocated by Franklyn and van Harmelen).

The question is, however, whether it will prove possible to keep the genie of commercial systems in the bottle and whether institutions will be sufficiently able to pace with the sophistication and functionality required to satisfy user demand. Or whether as a consequence of resource issues and the slower nature of development within large organisations they will forever be playing catch up and trying to enforce use of systems which look obsolete as soon as they are launched. In fact the report provides its own evidence of the liklihood of this occuring with references to the fact that no institutions have attempted to develop their own instant messenger system thanks to the success of MSN, Skype etc...

It is also questionable whether this approach takes sufficent notice of the increasing breakdown of work/leisure use of IT that seems to be taking place. Put simply the student with a passion for photography who has used Flickr at home to build up a large portfolio of images is more likely to want to continue to use Flickr for any images they produce as part of their formal coursework, than the university 'own brand' system.

Lastly, the report also comments on the difficulty of managing version control, audit trails and ensuring the longterm preservation of web2.0 content. Further evidence of how the need for the fundamental principles of records management continue to be relevant regardless of technological innovation - it's just how we achieve them that needs to be reconsidered.

No comments: