SIGUCCS Web 2.0 Preconference Worskhop

Yesterday afternoon, I presented a 3-hour pre-conference workshop at this year’s SIGUCCS fall conference in Portland, Oregon. The conference is a rather small one with about 350 participants and it focuses on IT support in higher education. My workshop was entitled “Web 2.0: Social Software Foundations and Implications;” for this audience I think that my session fell more into the “professional development” category than the “help me solve an immediate problem” category. Attendance was light (9 signed up; 8 attended) but I know that my approach is a bit “out there” for this audience. There aren’t many workshops or programs at this and similar conferences that are as heavy on theory and history as mine but I view those as incredibly important and necessary, particularly in the context of pre-conference workshops as many of those are explicitly devoted to professional development topics.

The PowerPoint slides from the workshop can be found here. My speaker notes, good and bad, are there too. I removed the videos from the file due to both copyright concerns and to keep the file size manageable. The file is still a bit large (7.3 mb) probably because there are 70 slides and some of them have large images culled from Flickr. Of course, the original content I developed for the workshop is all available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License (I forgot to include that in the actual session) so if you’d like to use this for non-profit work then you’re free to do so.

The content of the workshop was broken into 3 sections:

  1. Web 2.0: We discussed common perceptions of Web 2.0 and then worked to come to a common definition of Web 2.0. We then compared our ideas with those of Tim O’Reilly. I then presented John Suler’s ideas about Online Disinhibition as important ideas in understanding the draw and success of Web 2.0 tools.
  2. Social Network Sites (SNSes): This section was an update and compression of a pre-conference session I presented last year at ResNet. This time, however, we had several new pieces of research upon which to draw: boyd and Ellison’s JCMC article Social Network Sites: Definition, history, and scholarship and the book Youth, Identity, and Digital Media, particularly boyd’s chapter. Older research that is still informative and used in this section of my workshop includes Brett Bumgarner’s research (first an undergraduate thesis and now a First Monday article) and Matthew Vanden Boogart’s 2006 Master’s thesis.
  3. Technical Foundation and Examples: The final section was an attempt to extract some technical foundations from the previous discussions and present some examples. I’m afraid this section was the weakest of the three, particularly the “technical” part. The examples are okay and I know that attendees here at SIGUCCS will have the opportunity to see many more examples of much more recent vintage at presentations here at the conference. Some of the examples were drawn from NASPA’s Tech Tools program.

The pre-conference workshop itself went well. Although the group was small the discussions were great and we all interacted very well. It was particularly interesting that in this small group over one-third of the participants were from countries other than the United States; one attendee was Canadian and two were Norwegian. I felt bad that my perspective (shaped by my experiences, education, and attention) was so American but our Canadian and Norwegian colleagues were fantastic in helping us out and sharing their experiences and perspectives.

I’m hanging out in Portland for the next few days and attending some of the programs here at SIGUCCS in between reading, writing, and other classwork (no sight-seeing for me unless those sights are in or right next to the hotel). The topics of discussion here at SIGUCCS are not challenges I face in my current position but I am about to start performing some research on full-time higher ed staff who supervise student employees so there is still a lot here for me to pick up and absorb.

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