In his presentation titled “The Distributed, Web 2.0 VLE? Incorporating External Content Platforms into the Institutional VLE”, Ian Glover from the City University London talked about the advantages/disadvantages of using external tools in combination with the institutional VLE and the work they are doing to help staff use these external tools.
Advantages of using these tools are there are many good and free tools that often do one thing very well. People may already be using those tools and they can increase the visibility/findability of work and ideas. However, there are also disadvantages. You have no or little control over them. A resource could change over time without you wanting it to change, the system could be down at a critical time without you having an SLA. There may be changes in the licensing/availability (eg. Ning – free service revoked or Google Wave/Lively – completely shutdown). There might be Security/Privacy/Copyright/IP issues related to the use of the external tools. Who is responsible if a student gets cyber bullied through Facebook if you’ve said they are supposed to use Facebook? Or what if your students bully others?
At the City University London they try to keep up with a set of external tools that offer specific functionality, of which possible problems and issues related to their TOS is known etc. That way they can advise staff on which tools are best to use.
Ian concluded with some recommendations/thoughts:
- Aggregate content when possible -> Pull content in, don’t push people out
- Investigate any legal/moral/ethical issues first
- Check long-term viability of platforms
- Consider how it will „integrate‟ with VLE (does the function exist already?)
- Avoid chasing students into their social spaces -> Pick the tools based on your needs instead