This morning I attended a workshop by Grainne Conole, who is visiting the Open Universiteit Nederland today.
Grainne talked about a new project she’s working on at the Open University, called Cloudworks.
Cloudworks is a social networking tool specifically designed to grasp the discussions on Learning Design by teachers, tutors and anyone else. I was very interested in the way the design of the tool was made, by starting from the practical experiences of teachers in the course of designing a course. It really highlighted to me again that the fact that any technology (but especially technology focused on social aspects of learning) should support existing processes and practices in social interactions.
I think technology can enhance these existing practices, but should not aim to change them at the beginning. (These processes and practices might change due to the existance of the technology, but this is at a later phase).
Cloudworks seems to be a simple way to grasp ongoing discussions, as it is basically a state-and-comment; share-your-opinion tool. It does not aim to do anything more. It offers some simple and easy ways to relate to new people, through topic-related discussions. It is interesting to see a log of history in the discussions and links to related resources.
The nature of tool makes it something very time-related (as is Twitter). I think it will of most use and interest if you are following and participating in ongoing discussions. However, it could also be used as a quick log to see the major different views on any particular topic (and as such it can be a learning resource too). And abundance of data will soon become an issue here too….