Thursday, October 02, 2008

Teaching Computer-Mediated Communication for Governance

At the Varietas Multidisciplinary Teaching Interest Group on Wednesday we discussed what was required for a learning management system (LMS). What quickly became apparent was that selecting an LMS should be treated like other requirements analysis for an ICT system. Rather than start with a shopping list of features found in typical LMS, we should work out what the learning objectives are, the appropriate learning styles for that learning and then how ICT can support it.

LMS can have document creation and document/record management facilities, person to person and person to group communication, meeting management, assessment management and course delivery features. What many of these have in common is computer-mediated communication (CMC):
Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC) is defined as any communicative transaction which occurs through the use of two or more networked computers.[1] While the term has traditionally referred to those communications that occur via computer-mediated formats (i.e., instant messages, e-mails, chat rooms) it has also been applied to other forms of text-based interaction such as text messaging. [2] Research on CMC focuses largely on the social effects of different computer-supported communication technologies. Many recent studies involve Internet-based social networking supported by social software.

From: Computer-Mediated Communication, Wikipedia, 28 September 2008, at 11:06
Even the document/record management facilities and assessment, could be considered a form of communication. The record management facilities are used for communicating from now to the future, and the assessed is the assessor communicating to those who may wish to employ the student.

This analysis should work well for the courses on web design and electronic document management I present, as the topic of the course is also Computer-Mediated Communication.

To test if this would be a useful approach I tried the same technique wh9och I had used with "learning commons". A web search on CMC, returned about 2.5 million hits. Narrowing the search to the last 24 hours, produced just over 10,000 documents. This suggested the term was widely used, but the real surprise came when I narrowed the search to CMC for 24 hours at ANU, which found 4 documents, including an announcement of a seminar a few hundred metres from my office by an expert in lexicography and computer-mediated communication: The 5-Concentric Circles Model & the Australian English Dictionary, Vincent B Y Ooi, The Australian National Dictionary Centre, CEDAM Seminar Room, Building #96, 10 October 2008.

Rather than arguing the merits of Wiki, Blog, Podcast, Webinar, Feed or whatever new technology may be around the corner, it should be possible to apply the analysis developed for CMC, such as synchronicity, persistence, multimodality, privacy and security.

My courses on web design and e-document management largely address the needs of governance. This could be generalised as CMC for governance; that is using computer based systems to coordinate an organisation, or a society. In this way we can step back from the detail of how email or word processing documents should be archived in a company or a government agency and look at how computers can be used to make decisions, have those decisions implemented and satisfy the community the process was properly carried out. Different forms of CMC can then be assessed to see how they assist governance.

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