IBM, university develop courses in Web 2.0

University of Arizona will teach e-business strategies

IBM and the University of Arizona announced Thursday new curriculum to help prepare students for corporate IT work using Web 2.0 technologies like blogs, forums, and wikis. The course, one of the first to focus on skills related to Web 2.0 technologies, will teach Management Information Systems (MIS) and marketing students how to plan, launch and populate online communities through the use of these technologies to help businesses attract clients, generate revenue and support customers.

Rawn Shah, community program manager with IBM's developerWorks, spoke with Computerworld about the impact of these Web 2.0 tools on corporate IT and their developers. Excerpts from that conversation follow:

What is the goal of the new program IBM developed with the University of Arizona?

Enrollment is dropping in MIS and related fields [at the university] and has been dropping since the dotcom bomb. The university is trying to find new ways of introducing MIS and IT. We look at what the students are doing. Most of these guys have had some kind exposure [to Web 2.0] if they are not bloggers themselves. We're trying to give them a deeper purpose, to explain to them that there is a job waiting for them.

What will be the main uses of blogs, wikis and other Web 2.0 tools in corporations?

There is the internal enterprise environment, communities that you have for your employees so they can communicate and better work together across teams. Then there are external scenarios, where you are working with your customers. It could be supporting products or co-developing the next generation product with your customers. You can provide your business partners information or work with them on co-marketing. You're going to be doing different scenarios or use cases for each of these. If a company is having a conference, you can build awareness of a conference and get feedback from attendees.

What is the new community manager role that you see evolving in enterprises to manage these social tools?

All the companies that consider implementing these [communities] are thinking about how to set up blogs, forums and RSS feeds. You need a responsible party to handle that. A community manager will help the leaders in the company or other employees learn how to blog, how to produce content in a wiki or how to create a podcast. If each person has to do this effectively on their own, that is wasted time. A community manager focuses corporate goals. It is a multidisciplinary role ... an information manager role that falls somewhere in between [IT and the business]. People will come from both sides.

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