Web Tvs as communicational platforms of universities : French Web Tvs Case

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1 Web Tvs as communicational platforms of universities : French Web Tvs Case Yousra GAZBAR (Corresponding author) Doctorate Degree in Information and Communication Sciences Assistant Professor, University of Sud-Toulon-VAR I3M Laboratory, France Abstract Internet has deeply changed human experience and brought with it new tendencies with which users surf online with the sole objective of communicating (Jones & Fox, 2009), and enlarge their friends circles (Jones, 2009), building what is known nowadays as Social Networks. These networks took different shapes, yet our focus in this paper is university web Tvs as a university social network. Key words: communication, social network, university web TV, virtual communities, interaction. 1. Introduction Several studies highlighted the importance of and the need for interaction using different technologies (Daunt,1999 ; Brady, 2004; Su et al, 2005.). These technologies play a major role in eliminating isolationism and reinforcing technology-mediated communication. The first technologies used to this end, like TV, Radio, e- mail, and forums have fostered communication between users, yet a lack of collaboration and interaction is visible for this kind of communication to become efficient. Users are passive content consumers by using these tools that most of them came to be known as Web 1.0. To respond to this lack and offer a more efficient communication, wikis and community web sites invaded the net with an essential characteristic of fostering users active participation in creating web content. 2. Interactions via Community Web Sites These community web sites reinforce collaboration, knowledge sharing, interaction and communication between users in different locations presenting common interests, needs or objectives (Pettenati & Ranier, 2006; Brandtzæg & Heim, 2007). They are also known as applications which boost groups interaction, collaboration sharing spaces, social links and information exchange on the web (Bartlett-Bragg, 2006). The Internet community in France presents today a great number of community web sites users with an outstanding usage frequency compared to the number of hours spent on these web sites. These latter allow these web users a panoply of applications other than adding friends or consulting the box, but also creating and looking for content, uploading and viewing videos or pictures, along other usages located in the same location. People s adaptation of the net allows them to develop a network of anonymous relationships community bonds and to exteriorize some intimacy. Accordingly, internet represents a tool allowing for assembling communities with common interests. It is in this manner that social relationships are developed inside the network. 3. Community Web Sites Libertine partisans (Chollet, 2001) of non-commercial internet suggest that the web, by nature, represents a public space potentially unlimited, easy to occupy by non-commercial activities (which have quality web sites). 3.1 A New Concept Tim O Reilly is the owner and founder of a famous publishing house bearing his name. He is also responsible for popularizing the Web 2.0 term, by organising the first Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco in October 2004 and laying down the first principles of the concept in a document posted on his blog (Tim O Reilly, 2005). The Web 2.0 is some sort of a cut off point and a transition towards a new era with new actors and new rules. 4. Arrival of The Virtual Community The Virtual Community notion is as much obscure as its meaning. Sandy Stone (1991) relates it to the group of pioneers who conceived one of the first Bulletin Board Systems (BBS), the CommuniTree. We can claim that the virtual community term will appear as a synthesis of; on the one hand, the increasing effect the term 890

2 itself projects on both engineers imagination and some gurus like Timothey Leary, and on the other hand, the term online community. This latter has been introduced at the end of the 1960s by J.C.R Licklider and Robert W. Taylor who see it rather virtual communities. Nevertheless, it is mainly thanks to WELL (Whole Earth Lectronic Link), a BBS founded in 1985 in Sausalito in California that the virtual community notion saw its steep rise (Hafner, 1997), mainly thanks to the acclaimed publication of on one of its famous members Howard Rheingold. This latter defines members of virtual communities as people who summon words displayed on the screens to exchange jokes; discuss, participate in philosophical digressions, do business, exchange information, morally support each other, conduct projects, and make friends. Members of virtual communities do on the network what they do in reality ; just the body is left behind. Similarly, Plant (2004) uses the term on line communities which he defines as groups of entities, individuals and organisations who gather temporarily or permanently on an electronic interface to interact on a common problem or interest. Plant s definition has the merit of attracting attention over the interactions between individuals and organisations within a virtual community. This co-presence is found as well in Schubert s (2000) definition. According to this author, virtual communities describe a union between individuals or organisations which share common values or interests using an electronic media to communicate within a shared semantic space.. Some researchers like Kollock, (1994), Turkle, (1996), Hagel and Armstrong (1997) reduce virtual community to a technical innovation and assimilate the concept with a new form of a Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC). In this line of thinking, it is considered as an internet social space (Bagozzi and dholakia,,2002) and as a communication interface with social networks and web Tvs. other researchers retain the idea that they are a new form of community created by the use of a CMC (Jones, 1997). Thus, a branch of the literature considers it as a social imagination (Cova and Badot, 1999) and anchors it within postmodernism. 4.1 Characteristics of Virtual Communities With reference to the different studies on virtual communities, many characteristics can be distinguished as follows: Size The number of subscribed users may influence the community s dynamics, quantity and quality of information generated (Hagel and Armstrong, 1996). According to Rheingold (1993), size determines the creation of a virtual community. Nevertheless, we should make clear that it may be misleading to assume that some individuals may subscribe without even contributing to the community, thus artificially increasing size of the group Duration and Frequency of Interactions Group size and even intensity of social interactions cannot presume the existence of the virtual community. A minimum level of duration of interactions is required to distinguish between virtual communities and other online groupings where members are new each day (Jones, 1997 ; Porter, 2004). In this line of thinking, we shall remind of Rheingold (1993) who focuses on the need for some durability of online interactions, and of Figallo (1998) who terms interactions as regular relationships Place of Encounter It distinguishes virtual communities in the off-line world. However, it distinguishes between internet-based virtual communities and cell phone-based ones Object of Interactions The literature on the interaction concept is scanty. According to Newcomb (1953), the basis for interaction resides in the reciprocity of codes and symbols used. According to the author, interaction is often managed according to a common project or interest. it functions according to the ABX model, and more specifically an interaction between a Person A and a Person B is done in relation to a project X. The interest here lies in the emergence of an object-dependent relationship. The X object may be replaced by interest, encounter, product, brand Orientation of The Community Three main orientations are distinguished by Markus (2002): social, professional and business orientations: - The social orientation combines relational and experiential orientations: a. The relational orientation is manifested by constructing relationships between members. It is the basis of the birth of virtual communities. It can coexist, at different degrees, with other orientations. 891

3 b. The experiential orientation reflects the hedonic aspect of the community and translates the pleasure shared by the members. This aspect mainly distinguishes the communities in the real world (McAlexander and Schouten, 1998). - The professional orientation refers back to experts networks and to collective training (Markus, 2002). - The business or transactional orientation describes members who evaluate products, sell and buy among each other like Ciao.com or ebay.com Type of Interactions Interactive communication is a condition necessary to on line exchanges (Jones, 1997) as long as it favours social presence (Porter,2004). Interactions can be synchronous or asynchronous (Chauvet and Ghetty,2003). A synchronic communication has an immediate response time, whereas in an asynchronic communication there is a time latency between the stimulus and its response Behaviour Norms In physical relationships, the fact of not shaking a hand may be considered like an insult. Similarly, groups within electronic networks have established as well basic ethics. For instance, do not personally insult someone as this may raise some sanctions and even banning from the group. Thus, a sort of Netiquette has been developed to trace rules of membership to a group and participates in establishing a sense of identity and belonging to a community and consequently contributes to developing rituals and social norms. Accordingly, there are in these environments explicit norms of conduct and governance rules (members behaviour chart) whose implementation depends on a sanctioning system and even exclusion. These rules should be very explicit and likely to be modified and up dated (Ostrom, 1990 cited by Kollock, 1994). Different communities are often developed collectively. 5. Feeling of Community Belonging Feeling of belonging to a community is about being related to a community and being aware of it (Newbrough and Chavis, 1986). Feeling of belonging distinguishes virtual communities from other groupings which cannot generate online value. Indeed, according to Markus and Blanchard (2002),the literature seems to imply that establishing a virtual community is a simple task. It is just about setting up an online place of encounter in order for users to settle down and a community is created. The authors criticise this simplistic idea and claim that any online human gathering is not necessarily a virtual community. Initially, feeling of belonging has been considered from a geographical perspective. It relates to the complexity of the relationship between individuals and their residence communities (McMillan and Chavis, 1986 ; Puddifoot,1994 ;Tartaglia,2006). Since 1990, researchers from different countries and cultures have focused attention on feeling of belonging (Puddifoot, 1994,1996 in the UK ; garcia, Giuliani,& Wiesenfeld,1999 in Venezuela ; Prezza, Amici, Roberti,& Tedeschi,2001 in Italy ; Fisher and Sonn in Australia, 2002 ). Currently, feeling of belonging is one of the most studied psychological constructs and represents one of the most original and significant contributions in sociology (Tartaglia, 2006). Nevertheless, despite its success there is no consensus on defining it. Sometimes it is presented as the result of living in a community and sometimes as the definition itself of a community (Garcia et al., 1999). The controversies on this construct relate as well to its dimensions. Koh and Kim (2003) studied this construct on 172 participants and 44 virtual communities (portals). The authors discuss the dimensions of this construct in the physical world proposed by McMillan and Chavis (1986). The dimensions are: - Adhesion: when individuals express a feeling of belonging to a community. - Influence: when individuals feel that their position is recognized by the community and that their presence makes a difference.. - Needs satisfaction: when members believe that the resources available in the community correspond to their expectations and needs. - Emotional connectivity: when members believe that they share common history and experiences. On the one hand, Koh and Kim (2003) eliminate the emotional connectivity dimension as they believe that the adhesion and emotional connectivity dimensions are highly correlated. On the other hand, they add the immersion dimension who they define as a state of flow experienced by during surfing the net. This feeling is translated by a distortion of the notion of time and space (Csikszentimihalyi, 1975, p.36). Consequently, the authors retain three dimensions of community belonging feeling, i.e. adhesion, influence and immersion. Social networks platforms are numerous. Some have a general vocation, others are reserved to a community (university students, high school students, alumni ), and this is indeed the case of university web TVs. 892

4 An important potential for improvement comes from the web 2.0 possibilities and from users new habits of online exchanging and sharing all sorts of digital documents. Such is the sense of project that we present in what follows; a project oriented towards the future of the web and to the society of knowledge. The objectives of university web TV are numerous. Among them, we list generating a community identity, favouring transfer and diffusion of knowledge, opening the university on its students, generating interfaces with the economy and anchoring the university within the cultural and artistic domestic and international landscape. 6. The First University WEB TV in France : DIWI TV This web TV is a portal in which each person (in this case students) may contribute through different means of communication and diffusion (cameras, cell phones..etc). To set up this web TV, the accent is made on the community aspect of the portal and targets innovation in the first place. To this end, project chiefs aim at: - Facilitating contribution by integrating necessary tools like wikis, blogs or the RSS flow. - Take into account new technologies, known as web 2.0. The aim is to distinguish existing university web TVs by its innovation and community belonging. 6.1 Spirit and Identity The domain name given to this web TV was «DIWI TV». This latter has some significance. Its auditory value «DIWI» (say yes) makes its originality. This pan on words is taken to serve their slogan I said yes and you?. The you here allows for the contact between interlocutors. DIWI TV scores a relationship of exchange and sharing among the students and a dimension of proximity. Indeed, interaction is privileged for a portal representing a variety of opinions. 6.2 Philosophy The difficulty in starting such a project resides in the ability of clearly formulating a concept. The priority was to find a clear and a unifying idea, common to the expectations of all the students of the University of Sud Toulon-VAR (USTV). Project chiefs started then by asking basic questions like what? who? for whom? why? and how? The responses are formulated into one sentence: a web TV, by the students, for the students, with the aim of encouraging exchanges among them, each with the possibility of on line posting videos, audio and text. To formulate this concept, they started with the following idea; people do not talk to each other. Ask for example a literature student whether he/she knows other students from other training and research units and you will be astonished to see the result. Each student remains confined to the training and research unit he/she belongs. The concept streams from this idea. They decided to solve for the absence of exchange between students. They started with the principle that the difference is a virtue and that an engineering student has a lot to learn from a literature student and vice versa. The main motivation for this web TV will be then to meet students at all costs. This will give rise to numerous exchanges, under different forms like discussions, interviews, reports etc. 6.3 The Objectives As the main element of the web TV was exchanging and sharing, we distinguish many objectives that can be divided into two distinct categories. On the one hand, there are the objectives known as institutional. - make your university shine - give high school students a nice image of the university - valorise the training proposed by the university - improve student life On the other hand, there are the community objectives: - create a web between the university s different TRUs; cohesion between the TRUs. - meeting in different universes; exchanging knowledge and know-how - restore dialogue between people: sharing experience - arouse curiosity for each other: discovery 893

5 6.4 The Target We distinguish two categories of targets: The core target: university s students The secondary targets: - Future students of the university - University teachers and personnel 6.5 The editorial line DIWI tv seeks to be different from existing university TVs. There is nothing institutional, nor a formal content, rather a sharing and an exchanging relationship between students prevails. The focus is made on the users contribution whom is asked to actively participate. The team s task is to make this contribution happen by motivating students to participate in the web tv. DIWI TV stands out as the voice of students which may be multiple and changing across the campus. 7. Conclusion Thus, information diffusion is made by means of many tools within the organisation represented above by the university. This kind of diffusion turned out to be crucial for the university s internal communication system and contributed in modifying users behaviour, in our case university students. 894

6 References Bagozzi R.P. et Dholakia U.M. (2002). International Social Action in Virtual Communities. Journal of Interactive Marketing, 16, 2, Bartlett-Bragg, A. (2006). Reflections on pedagogy: Reframing practice to foster informal learning with social software. Retrieved [Online] Available: Bragg.pdf (February 10, 2008) Brady, L. (2004). The Role of Interactivity in Web-Based Educational Material. Usability News, 6(2). Brandtzæg, P. B., & Heim, J. (2007). Initial context, user and social requirements for the Citizen Media applications: Participation and motivations in off- and online communities. Citizen Media Project. Csikszentmihalyi M. (1975). Beyond Boredom and Anxiety. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Daunt, C. (1999). The Nature of Interaction in Educational. Videoconferencing. Queensland University of Technology. Garcia I., Giuliani F. & Wiesenfeld E. (1999). Community and sense of community: the cas if an urban barrio in Caracas. Journal of Community Psychology, 27, Hagel J. et Armstrong A. (1997). Net gain: Expanding markets through virtual communities. Boston: Harvard Business School Press. Jones Q. (1997). Virtual communities, virtual settlements and cyber-archaology : A theoretical outline. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication. [Online] Available : Kollock P. (1994). The emergence of exchange structures: An experimental study of uncertainty, commitment and trust. The American Journal of Sociology, September, 100, 2, Markus M.L. et Blanchard A. L. (2002). The Experienced Sense of a virtual Community: Characteristics and Processes. Advances in Information systems, Internet, October, McMillan W. D. & Chavis, M. D. (1986). Sense of community: A definition and theory. Journal of Community Psychology, 14, Newcomb T.M. (1953). An approach to the study of communicative acts. Psychological Review, 60, 6, Pettenati, M. C., & Ranieri, M. (2006). Informal learning theories and tools to support knowledge management in distributed CoPs. Paper presented at the Innovative Approaches for Learning and Knowledge Sharing. EC- TEL. Workshop Proceeding. Porter E.C. (2004). A typology of virtual communities: a multi-disciplinary foundation for future research. Journal of Computer Mediated Communication, November, 10, 3. Prezza M., Amici M., Roberti T. & Tedeschi G. (2001). Sense of community referred to the whole town : its relations with neighbouring, loneliness, life satisfaction and area of residence. Journal of Community Psychology, 29, Puddifoot J.E. (1994). Community identity and sense of belonging in a northeastern English town. Journal of Social Psychology, 34, Rheinglod H. (1993). The virtual community. Reading, MA: Addison Weslet. Stone S. (2006). Communautés virtuelles: penser et agir en réseau. Serge Proulx,Louise Poissant,Michel Sénécal Su, B., Bonk, C. J., Magjuka, R. J., Liu, X., & Lee, S.-h. (2005). The Importance of Interaction in Web-Based Education: A Program-level Case Study of Online MBA Courses. Journal of Interactive Online Learning, 4(1). Tartaglia S. (2006). A preliminary study for a new model of sense of community. Journal of Community Psychology, 34, 1, Turkle S. (1999). Cyberspace and Identity, Comtemporary Sociology, 28, 6,

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