Monthly Archives: October 2004

Culture Change Model for Content Sharing


Introducing a new technology most often requires changes in processes and mindset in the user community. My experience is that installing the application can be done in an instance, whereas there is no real means of speeding up a change in the human infrastructure.

Useful drivers to enable cultural change can be found in legislation (e.g. IPR, accessibility, freedom of information) and funding mechanisms (e.g. projects, budgets, funding organisations). In other cases the introduction of a tool can become a driver for change (e.g. CMS, e-mail).

When it comes to sharing learning materials, RLOs, and content objects on an institutional basis the reaction by academics has been reluctance and even blunt refusal. The introduction of a content management system (CMS) is to a great deal dependent on this so it becomes a problem sphere for the organisation.

I see the way around this by creating the sharing culture first before introducing a CMS product on a wider scale, rather than what most institutions try: set up a CMS and then sell it to staff. The benefits it brings to the institution are not easily sold to academics though.

What I suggest in my model is to take advantage of existing human relations and networks of collaboration and digitise them through a peer-to-peer (P2P) network. It is an attempt to take the first pain out of sharing content formally (which requires processes and procedures to be followed e.g. proper metatagging). It builds on unstructured sharing that is already happening offline.

In an internal P2P sharing network there is no requirement for editorial processes, IMS metatagging forms, or quality measures. Simple descriptions, keywords and proper file naming is normally sufficient. I suspect it will actually create awareness of proper and more metatags, when people try and search but get misleading results. Search for a Frank Sinatra song and you get Paul Anka is annoying, but alerts you to the fact that it is important to name things properly.

Here are the steps envisaged:
(0) offline unstructured sharing –> (1) digitise –> (2) unstructured sharing –> (3) structured sharing –> (4) reuse formally

(1) is already a big step forward in institutional terms. It is important that (2) and (3) happen in a secure environment and that there is overlap. (2) happens informally with unstructured tagging, leading to (3) formal sharing and structured processes.

With this model I hope to stimulate demand for sharing and awareness for a sharing culture. So it is a gradual approach based on informal reality.

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