On the eve of trialling blogs in NSW DET, I’m wondering after many years of using traditional communications tools (forums, emails, listservs) , what the uptake will be. The use of traditional CMCs has been largely confined to teachers administrative and PD activities. Use of the tools in teaching and learning in the school sector has been probably undertaken as an adjunct to the use of an LMS such as Moodle, and only of any significance in the Distance Ed arena.
Whether Web 2 collaborative tools will be different is yet to be determined. Literature on the success of blogs for eg. is mixed. Lin et al 2006 , confidently stated that blogs contribute to students online engagement, but Delaney et al 2005- claimed that blogs failed to even motivate students (one of the most acclaimed attributes). Are we then assuming that blogs and wikis will have better uptake than traditional CMCs? Accessing many of the CMC hasa been via LMSs or potals such as Edna or TaLe- there is a hit here in terms of directly accessing the tools. To be successful I think the blogs/wikis need to be integrated with students natural practise, an adjunct of their other ‘social’ activities. The more formalised the access routines to the blog the less students are likely to engage. The other key requirement for these tools is openness. The more restricted or ‘constructed’ the community engaging with the blog/wiki , the less likely there is going to be a natural flow of dialogue. These tools are premised on the collective wisdom of mass participation (surowiecki). They also work best on a lack of homogeneity- the lure of the different,/unknown can be a key motivator. Spontaneity of presence and contribution is also fundamental to their success. Given all this can any ‘institutionally’ developed and driven collaborative environment really elicit the same passion toward these tools? There’s a real challenge for any education dept.