Forum: Web 2.0

This interactive Discussion Forum took place at 12.30 on Day 1 and was chaired by Lawrie Phipps. The main topics of discussion related to the potential disruptions that Web 2.0 technology can cause and the real positives they bring in and finished with a general call for ‘netiquette’ guidelines.

First some background notes from the introductory page that can be found by following this link:

“The forum was designed to focus on two polarised viewpoints.

In Favour

The technologies are providing new ways of engaging in discourse between peers, offering new opportunities to find knowledge and exercise creativity and the sheer breadth of the technology creates something that most people can engage with at some level.

And Against

The technologies are disruptive to the students’ learning and staff time, they pick up information that we haven’t given them, off the internet, and the technology is everywhere like an omnipresent technodeity.

The purpose of the debate is unpack the wider issues around web2.0 and understand why these two positions may represent views of individuals in institutions. So even if you are a web 2.0 evangelist, try and put on the opposition hat and discuss it from a different perspective. The greater the debate the more rigorous the outcomes.”



The forum started as delegates flagged up issues and problems relating to Web 2.0, citing addiction to facebook, disruption within lectures, the amount of time it takes to work out how all these new technolgies work and similar.

Lawrie finished by asking: “Do you realise that all your photos now belong to facebook asks the forum manager? That if you upload information, strictly speaking, you give up the rights.”
 12: 45

Time for the positives!

A delegate says they use wikis whenever we have a meeting.

Blogs are tremendously useful, says another.

The next delegate says her organisation has a policy of using skype chat to record meetings – which works very well as long as there are a few people good at typing and people present realise that notes are being taken.

Another delegate points out how useful it is to use audio to give students feedback.

‘What about how web 2.0 compliments the virtual learning environment?’ asks Lawrie.

 A delegate wants to know about the inter-operability of tools? How does that impact on discussions of copyright and legal issues?

Lawrie points out that there’s information about this issue on the ‘Institutions, Communities and You’ stand, in the marketplace, where there’s a poster that tells you how to work through IPR.

A delegate explains that she is working with JISC on facilitating access to googledocs with a virtual learning environment, via Blackboard… It’s going to go live in April 2009… but should be accessible earlier. She’s working with University of London Colleges like: Birkbeck, The Royal Veterinary College and SOAS.


Another delegate tells us about a project to help create reading lists for students using RSS. It’s scheduled for next year, but there’s a prototype at


Who’s using twitter? asks Lawrie.

A delegate says it’s useful some of the time, ‘but there’s too much out there.’

Lawrie refers to a twitter someone has just sent him, physically creating frustration online, adding ‘I didn’t know that ‘D’ sends  it directly for one person for a while,’ to laughter.

The consensus from the floor is that the problem is that everyone has to know how to use the technology – and actually use it.

Lawrie points out that every positive we are pointing out seems to have a ‘but’ on the end. ‘It’s something to do with being British,’ he quips.

‘And academics,’ comes a voice from the floor.

Delegates point out that it often gets to the stage when you get twitters from people who are sitting in the same room as you – especially requesting that coffee and similar be made.

Delegates also suggest that there’s a need for twitter etiquette guidelines. You have to ask if there’s time for a conversation,on the phone for instance, but no one seems to on twitter.
Lawrie, keen on the positive again, remarks that the flip side is the sense of community these tools bring up. You chat to people in, say, Bristol far more than you would without them.  Plus a text chat on skype and similar doesn’t interrupt other people in your office as a phone call would.
A delegate remarks that there’s an interesting question about how long skype conversations are preserved. Can they be held against you?

The consensus on the floor is that they almost certainly can and there’s a need to treat chat devices with the same circumspection as with email.

Lawrie wraps up explaining that this is an ongoing forum, asking that you please tell us what you use the Web 2.0 tools for, how you use them and what the related problems might be.

Do use the comments field below.