On Thursday morning, however, whil I travelled to London for a meeting Andy Powell spoke at the UCISA 2008 Management Conference, Following my video presentation Andy gave his contribution to the talk on “Digital Natives Run by Digital Immigrants: IT Services are Dead, Long Live IT Services 2.0!“. How slides are available on Slidshare:
And as Andy described to a live Twitter audience (which I only caught up with later that day) there was a debate at the conference on “this house belives (sic) that University IT services should block access to social networking sites“.
Andy reflected on the debate:
odd debate here… some people taking the motion very seriously… others treating it as a joke – hard to judge if people are seriously … …
it’s a serious motion – though obviously positioned intentionally to stir up debate – but yes, basically it is daft
sanity prevails… only 3 out of about 250 IT Services directors voted in favour of blocking student use of social networks
Good news then 🙂 It seems IT Service managers overwhelmingly recognise that they can’t stop users accessing social networking services. But how was our talke received? Michael Webb has been blogging from the conference. He gave his views on my video presentation:
Anyway, morning themes were about Web 2.0/Social networking, starting with Brian Kelly from UKOLN and Andy Powell from EduServ – talking about IT Services 2.0. Brian wasn’t actually their though, and instead had pre-recorded his presentation. I find this pretty fascinating – I’ve had loads of discussions with people about why we don’t do this more often (we do actually do this for our IT induction), but it’s the first time I’ve experienced it as an audience member. So did it work? Somewhat against my expectations (Brian is a very engaging presenter in person) it worked fine (even with the low production values and a phone ringing half way through!).
And then went on to briefly summarise the content of my talk:
What about the content? Essentially the premise was that IT Services have evolved before, and can do so again, into IT Services 2.0 where we embrace, support, and educate users about the possibilities of externally hosted Web 20 services.
Michael’s thoughts on the views expressed by myself and Andy:
So where does that leave us? The common theme between Brian and Andrew’s talks were they were both saying we need to understand risks. Some of the risks, in my opinion (and, I think, Brian’s) aren’t that great – service reliability for example – how often is Google or Facebook down? Privacy of data across national borders though is a really challenging issue, and perhaps one of the most obvious stumbling blocks to wholeheartedly embracing some externally hosted technologies on an institutional level.
There’s another significant issue though – we don’t really have any control of this do we? Our work and home life and identities are becoming increasingly blurred – we can’t ban people from using Facebook to support learning. So how much user education are we actually responsible for, both from a moral and legal perspective? It’s something we all need to give more thought to.
Later on at the conference there were “two supplier presentations – one from Google, and one from Microsoft, both promoting their free, web based email/productivity/web 2.0 suites.” Michael made an interesting comment on the tensions between the views of Myself and Andy that IT Services should move towards playing an enabling role rather than the provider of IT Services and encouraging Microsoft or Google to provide core IT services:
Second issue, and I need to reflect on this a little more, is that doesn’t this go against the IT Services 2.0 philosophy? We’d still be imposing a single tool set on our students (albeit an outsourced one) rather than educating our users to pick the best tools for any given activity. Maybe that’s an impractical aim – remember back to Sir Alan Langlands plea to keep things simple for academics? Don’t know – my instinct is that this sort of approach is still a very IT Services 1.0 things. Sure, Google Apps (say) may be a great tool set for a certain group of users for a given activity, but maybe another group or activity would work better with Elgg or WetPaint? I think this gets right to the heart of the IT Services 2.0 dilemma – how much technical diversity can our user base sustain? Or am I missing the point?
Now I don’t feel that making use of Google Apps should prevent ue of Elgg or WetPaint – unless your institution has foolishly agreed to a contract which requires the institution to only allow a single provider of a service on campus (and I’ve heard this has happened with VoIP, which means institutions are contractually obliged to ban Skype from the campus :-()
But how use of Google and Microsoft externally-provided services relate to a vision of small pieces loosely connected vision is an interesting question!