Mark’s return to university – after six months working on TV3, our broadband social network for TV – has yielded some interesting application of social software technologies.

SynchroeditIn his first week of lectures, Mark has been keeping a wiki of notes taken during his classes and lectures – this is a fantastic idea and I’m guessing will ultimately enable students to pool their individual notes, recollections and comments of a given lecture, in a single document…I always had problems getting complete sets of notes, from missing classes, appalling teachers or simply my terrible handwriting!

With recent discussions I’ve been having around enterprise applications for social software, it strikes me that schools, colleges and universities are perhaps a ready market for enterprise social software…indeed, Foe is working on a variant of social bookmarking for schoolkids and teachers. Most universities offer some web hosting and an email address to students…perhaps its time to consider richer services that are an intrinsic part of collaborative learning and research – services in formats and media that most students will already be sensitised and acclimatised to.

Extrapolating from Mark’s use of wikis for note taking, I can envisage a number of other applications:

  • WikiNotes – Real-time lecture wikis…perhaps using SynchroEdit.
  • Clipping tools to aggregates links, WikiNotes and other material into a environment.
  • Integrated blogging for encouraging conversational and collaborative discourse around learning materials.
  • Aggregators to enable students to ‘subscribe’ to teachers, classes and students.
  • Flickr-styled tagged images of diagrams, pictures and other graphics from classes.

This appears to be a promising niche amongst the current generation of social software tools and actually an manifestation of the emerging Long Tail Of Software.

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