JISC has released Higher Education in a Web 2.0 World.
Here's an excerpt from the announcement:
Web 2.0, the Social Web, has had a profound effect on behaviours, particularly those of young people whose medium and metier it is. They inhabit it with ease and it has led them to a strong sense of communities of interest linked in their own web spaces, and to a disposition to share and participate. It has also led them to impatience—a preference for quick answers—and to a casual approach to evaluating information and attributing it and also to copyright and legal constraints.
The world they encounter in higher education has been constructed on a wholly different set of norms. Characterised broadly, it is hierarchical, substantially introvert, guarded, careful, precise and measured. The two worlds are currently co-existing, with present-day students effectively occupying a position on the cusp of change. They aren’t demanding different approaches; rather they are making such adaptations as are necessary for the time it takes to gain their qualifications. Effectively, they are managing a disjuncture, and the situation is feeding the natural inertia of any established system. It is, however, unlikely to be sustainable in the long term. The next generation is unlikely to be so accommodating and some rapprochement will be necessary if higher education is to continue to provide a learning experience that is recognised as stimulating, challenging and relevant.
The impetus for change will come from students themselves as the behaviours and approaches apparent now become more deeply embedded in subsequent cohorts of entrants and the most positive of them—the experimentation, networking and collaboration, for example—are encouraged and reinforced through a school system seeking, in a reformed curriculum, to place greater emphasis on such dispositions. It will also come from policy imperatives in relation to skills development, specifically development of employability skills. These are backed by employer demands and include a range of ‘soft skills’ such as networking, teamwork, collaboration and self-direction, which are among those fostered by students’ engagement with Social Web technologies.
Higher education has a key role in helping students refine, extend and articulate the diverse range of skills they have developed through their experience of Web 2.0 technologies. It not only can, but should, fulfil this role, and it should do so through a partnership with students to develop approaches to learning and teaching. This does not necessarily mean wholesale incorporation of ICT into teaching and learning. Rather it means adapting to and capitalising on evolving and intensifying behaviours that are being shaped by the experience of the newest technologies. In practice it means building on and steering the positive aspects of those behaviours such as experimentation, collaboration and teamwork, while addressing the negatives such as a casual and insufficiently critical attitude to information. The means to these ends should be the best tools for the job, whatever they may be. The role of institutions of higher education is to enable informed choice in the matter of those tools, and to support them and their effective deployment.