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Blogs, Wikis, Podcasting, and Instant Messaging: Social Computing Tools That Are Here to Stay

Isn't blogging mainly for personal diaries or posting opinions on the web? Didn't I hear that Wikipedia has information that may not be accurate and is unchecked? What is all this fuss about podcasting? Isn't that related to that little device that every young person seems to have around their neck for music? Isn't Instant Messaging (IM) distracting when you're trying to do some REAL work?

All these are questions frequently asked by educators in higher education. However, these technologies are developing fast and are enthusiastically embraced by the masses, especially by current college-age students and their younger siblings. Their impact on how the Net-generation students communicate and how these technologies can shape information delivery and collaborative work cannot be ignored.

Most of these social computing tools are free, easy to use, readily accessible on the Internet, and involve almost no learning curve on the student's part. Communities have been formed or can easily be formed. Taking advantage of the opportunity to adopt these technologies to advance student learning and further community building in higher education can be a worthwhile venture.

The EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative's (ELI's) "7 Things You Should Know About..." Series provides concise information on emerging learning practices and technologies.

The LTC has been supporting the use of these tools for the past year, initially on a pilot basis, then as fully supported tools for campus users. Thus, serious use of blogs, wikis, and podcasting does not have to rely on free software and services on the Internet. Having these services on campus allows better control over administration and user access. Please check-out the following sites for more information on these social computing tools available on campus.

Come visit us at the LTC (Andersen Library 1002) if you are curious about the possibilities of including these exciting new technologies in your courses, or attend one of our workshops. You will be surprised that it is not all hype after all.