An introduction to Cloudworks
- What is it? Cloudworks is a social networking site for finding, sharing and discussing learning and teaching ideas and designs.
- Core concepts. There are two key concepts associated with Cloudworks - the notion of 'Clouds' and 'Cloudscapes'.
- Clouds. A Cloud can be anything to do with learning and teaching. Each Cloud is 'social' in that it is possible to have a conversation around the Cloud. A Cloud could be: a short description of a learning and teaching idea, information about resources or tools for learning and teaching, detailed learning designs or case studies of practice or a question as a starting point for a discussion.
- Cloudscapes. Clouds can be aggregated into 'Cloudscapes' associated with a particular event, purpose or interest. For example you can have Cloudscapes associated with a conference aggregating Clouds about conference presentations or tools and resources referenced. A Cloudscape can be set up for a workshop where Clouds might include workshop resources, tools or activities. Cloudscapes can also be more general for example to stimulate debate about a particular teaching approach. Clouds can be associated with more than one Cloudscape.
- Creating a user account. You can view everything available on the site, but if you want to create Clouds or Cloudscapes or if you want to add comments, then you need to create an account.
- Navigating the site. The front page shows a rolling list of new Clouds added to the site on the right hand side, features Cloudscapes are presented in the middle panel and a list of Clouds that have recently had comments added to them appear on the left hand side. You can get a list of all the Clouds in the site by clicking on 'All Clouds'. A title and brief summary for each Cloud is provided. Click on the link to get further details. Clicking on the 'All Cloudscapes' link lists all the Cloudscapes in the site, as with individual Clouds a brief description of each Cloudscape is provided. Clicking on a particular Cloudscape will take you into it and will show all the Clouds associated with that Cloudscape.
- Setting up a profile. You can set up a profile and include some information about yourself. Your profile page automatically lists any Clouds you have created. You can follow both people and Cloudscapes. Your profile page indicates the Cloudscapes you are following, who you are following and who is following you.
- Creating a Cloud. To create a Cloud click on the 'Create a Cloud' link. Enter a short title and a summary - these will appear on the 'All Clouds' page and give an indication of what your Cloud is about. Then enter a description - you can include url links, images, etc. You can also provide a URL for more information. You can tag the Cloud in terms of 'tool', 'pedagogy', 'discipline' and 'other'. Clicking on the tag list at the top will list Clouds according to how they have been tagged using these categories. You can preview to see what your Cloud will look like and then submit. A Cloudscape is produced in much the same way. Once your Cloud has been created you can add it to one or more Cloudscapes. You can also go back and edit the Cloud or delete it. Other people registered on Cloudworks are able to add comments to any Clouds or Cloudscapes you produce.
- Finding content. Clouds and Cloudscapes can be tagged by pedagogy, discipline, tool and other and can be searched using these tags or via a search facility. You can also find relevant content by browsing All Clouds, All Cloudscapes or looking at the Clouds associated with individuals under their profile.
- Your Cloudstream. All the Clouds created by the people and Cloudscapes you are following are aggregated under your 'My Cloudstream'.
Cloudworks is being developed by the Institute of Educational Technology at The Open University. It is part of the Open University Learning Design Initiative (OULDI) project and is funded by both the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) and The Open University.