What do universities need to support weblogs?

A rare and welcome victory on the professional front. A project proposal submitted with partners at BCIT and UVic Distance Ed was awarded with significant funding from BCCampus’ Online Program Development Fund. (We should also have a private sector partner that I’m very excited about, but I’ll hold off announcing that until the deal is completed.)

What did we propose to do? Nothing less than creating and sharing a framework for social software applications for BC’s higher education institutions. In less grandiose terms, we have proposed to create a set of policy recommendations, tutorials, templates, and multimedia resources that can be reused by a school that wants to support weblogging and wiki use (and possibly other social software tools) for its own community. We also hope to foster a community-centered model for sharing expertise amongst practitioners attempting to develop their own projects.

We intend the project to be platform-agnostic: we will definitely be using Movable Type and Drupal, but do our best to ensure that resources we create are not tied in with any one system. If possible, we might partner with mini-projects using tools such as WordPress, ELGG, or even Blogger.

I could go into more detail about our proposal, but will refrain for two reasons. 1) Our award, while substantial, was less than we asked for, so we need to reevaluate and scale down our objectives. And more importantly, 2) it’s very likely that our peers in the educational weblogging community have some great ideas we have not considered.

I am pleased we got this award, but I don’t feel much of a proprietary sense of pride. In large part, we got funded because webloggers around the world have been demonstrating proof of concept in myriad ways. In fact, if you are reading this weblog, there’s a decent chance that your efforts contributed to the success of the proposal (THANKS!). So what are your ideas how our project could support the successful adoption of weblogs and wikis by educators and students? What would be most useful? Where are the needs most pressing?

I should note that while we are charged to make our work available to BC institutions, we intend to be as public with our process and products as possible. We will be licensing our materials via Creative Commons, and we hope our work will prove helpful beyond our provincial borders.

It’s going to be a hell of a lot of work, but I think it’s also going to be a lot of fun.

About Brian

I am a Strategist and Discoordinator with UBC's Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology. My main blogging space is Abject Learning, and I sporadically update a short bio with publications and presentations over there as well...
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