Educating today's students about Web 2.0 and online communities
Last week there was quite a bit of news about the work of one of our own, developerWorks community program manager Rawn Shah. Rawn has helped develop -- and is co-teaching -- a new course at the University of Arizona this semester entitled "MIS 300 - Web 2.0: Maintaining and Developing Online Communities." The course description reads:
Online social networking and communities have become a big role in how organizations interact within themselves as well as with external partners. Developing a healthy community can lead to new business opportunities, improved customer relations, as well as improved communications to the world. Online social network sites already claim over 300 million members worldwide in public sites that are starting to turn into a new generation of b2b and b2c business collaboration and brokerage sites. This course investigates the technologies, methods and practices towards developing online communities, and how this knowledge and these skills are applied to businesses.
Kudos to Rawn Shah and the others at IBM and at the U of A who worked to get this class in place and to promote it.
For more details, see Rawn's related Wiki, which includes the course syllabus, FAQ, Resources, and more, as well as a collection of related news articles -- which includes for example this Dr. Dobbs article -- that were published last week, and a link to last week's related press release announcing the course.
It was not long ago when yours truly took a graduate course at UNC-Chapel Hill (perhaps the first of its kind anywhere, and in its debut semester at UNC in any case) entitled "Virtual Communities." That course, taught by the amazing Paul Jones, director of ibiblio.org (formerly metaLab, formerly SunSITE), included guest lectures by people like Howard Rheingold (the WELL) and Brewster Kahle (the Wayback Machine) and focused quite a bit on more established "technologies for 'community building' such as listservs, discussion boards, fora, and portals," and blogs and perhaps wikis; blogs were just getting big and podcasts were still in their infancy. Shortly after that, we started expanding our "community" effort at developerWorks; we rolled out dW blogs, and we've also launched dW podcasts, expanded and enriched our discussion forums ... and continue to improve. Having Rawn take on the full-time role as dW community lead was another positive step. I know Rawn has a lot more in store for developerWorks, and I'm sure his teaching the U of A course will only enhance his expertise -- and thus our ability to do more for the developerWorks community and more with Web 2.0 technologies.
Meantime, it's great to see us helping students via this course, as well as the many other efforts of IBM University Relations. Students -- like professionals -- are turning to the content and resources at developerWorks to help them learn, help them complete tasks. The Dr. Dobbs article cited above mentions but one rich example: our Web development zone, which focuses on open, cross-platform, standards-based Web 2.0 technologies and social networking and online community tools, including Ajax, Atom, mashups, PHP, RSS, Wikis, and much more. Lots of helpful tutorials, how-to articles, and other resources to help students and professionals alike.