Experience has shown me that the IT security element within my organisation is extremely risk averse (i work within the Nuclear Industry) and that any attempt to introduce social networking, knowledge sharing platforms etc will be met with a resounding NO.

Does anybody have any pragmatic ideas/arguments that I can use to persuade them? I missed Mark Oelherts session on this at #lt10uk, so if anybody has seen any posts anywhere on this session, links would be greatly sopreciated.


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Hi Mark,

Many, many thanks for your reply and for allowing me to gain the benefit of all the hard work you have/are undertaking in this area. Do you have any idea when the DoD Social Media policy paper will be released and will it be made public?

I agree wholeheartedly that if the social networking platform (or collaborative learning platform as I intend to pitch it) is sat within our firewall, then the issue of inadvertantly posted information poses no greater risk than an internal email, or intranet communication - in fact it poses much less threat than email in general, which can obviously be sent 'off site'

Can you please clarify what you mean by A-Space, it is a term I have not heard before?


Hi Craig, I think the 'its happening anyway, so let's bring it in house' approach might be one of the most useful approaches you could take.
Although we were not facing the same level of resistance as you refer to, one of the drivers for our (at UEL) implementation of an Elgg platform was the fact that people will, as Mark Berthelemy points out also, use social media tools whether their employers like it or not. So rather than have activities taking place externally, our Elgg platform allows us to offer staff and students the opportunity to use social media effectively but within an organisational environment. We started off by creating a small pilot, which we could then use to demo the benefits across the organisation. We found that by not imposing use, it actually expanded faster than we had anticipated, as people found out about it and requested to join.
We are also working with several external organisations to develop similar social learning platforms, most of whom are moving in that direction for very similar reasons.
Mark Oeherts presentation was really helpful in terms of highlighting why organisations should engage with social media, showing how inneffective the arguments against it really are, and demonstrating the opportunity costs of not doing so.So try to get hold of his slides!
Hi Sarah,

Thanks for taking the time to reply to this discussion thread.

The more and more I hear about Mark Oehlerts session at LT10 the more and more I am gutted that I missed it! I am keeping a very close eye on this site and wait with baited breath for all the slides and pdf to be uploaded so that I can 'catch up' with everybody else!

I have looked at Elgg as a platform but I really need a platform to act a a 'user facing' platform but ALSO send/ receive information from our Business Procedure system (SAP). Moodle appears to be able to do this with some addional programming work. I have looed at Kineo as a potential provider as they are able to offer this bespoking service, beyond the 'out of the box ' version.

You mentioned that you had conducted a small pilot, how did you go about planning this pilot? Which subject and why? Did you pilot it amomgst a group of 'believers' to guarantee positive results or 'non-believers' to (hopefully) produce powerful results?

Any and all info is greatly appreciated


Hi Craig

I can see why you have this sort of 'vicious circle' problem if you need to integrate with SAP before you can even run a trial.
I was wondering what your key objectives were around the introduction of social networking/collaboration tools? Is there any way that just as a start,you could run a small pilot without the integration simply as a proof of concept to demonstrate the value of using social media tools? Then leverage the success (hopefully) of the pilot to persuade your organisation of the further benefit of an integrated solution.

I would be happy to share more information about our Elgg implementation if that would help at all. The best way might be if you email me at s.frame@uel.ac.uk then perhaps we can arrange to talk it through in more detail by phone.
The key, Craig, is to start small. Try a small pilot outside the firewall if necessary and prove the concept. If it works then the members will sell it on; you won't have to!

The real blocker is not IT but your senior management team. If you prove it and get support and they resolutely don't get it then life is tough. The pilot is the best way to show that it can add benefits to the organisation and then you hope it will move forward. I wrote an article in the January Learning Tech magazine on exactly that topic. Have a look at it and see if there are any other useful ideas in it.
Hi Nigel,

Thanks for your reply, I'll make sure I have a good read though the article you mentioned.

The challenge I have is that I need a great deal of support from both senior management and IT before I can even start a PILOT. This is because I am looking at using Moodle to act as a learner-friendly front-facing portal to a complicated 'back room' system (SAP). The vicious circle is that I need buy-in to the procurement of this platform before I can pilot it...

A difficult one!


Funny thing - Westinghouse Nuclear uses social networking through Blackboard to train all its nuclear power plant operators around the world. Much of their training is actually tacit "how to" information shared by operators. There is almost no way to do this without a social networking platform of some kind. Does that help?
Hi Josh,

It certainly does - thank you.

My exeperience indicates to me that the Nuclear Industry is often very blinkered in it's approach to many things, often thinking that it is the only sector who has to deal with that issue.

The fact that Westinghouse Nuc. are utilising social networking/learning platforms will be a fantastic 'ace' to keep up my sleeve - again, many thanks for highlighting this example.


I'm giving a presentation next month to our IT Leadership team next month - I'll share what worked and what didn't!
I do have a couple of Mark's quotes from the conference - he talked about trusting pilot with a $30m jet & guided missiles so why not trust them with Facebook!.
I've also done some research on the retirement & voluntary leaver stats of our people so will be looking at the impact of knowledge walking out of the door over the next 5-10 years and how we can use social media to encourage the sharing of their implicit knowledge.
Hi Andy,

Some great ideas in your reply. I particularly liked the 'pilot' quote; we trust our employees with multi-million pound machines and Nuclear material, but again, don't trust them on Facebook!!!!!

I would be very interested in looking at the research you have undertaken, as one of the arguments I intend to use for a social learning platform is to aid knowledge transfer from departing employees.
In education we face similar issues.

Having said that a recent Ofsted study showed that barring and blocking was more risky than a managed approach.

BBC news article

My views on my blog on this from an FE perspective.

The other way to approach this is that the IT department shouldn't be making policy, just enforcing policy. Who makes the policy, get them to make the changes.

James Clay
ps: I finally managed to get IT to remove Ning from the list of banned sites to enable access to the forum section. Progress!



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