Archive for October, 2006

Finally migrated the connectivism site….spaces…spaces…spaces

Thursday, October 5th, 2006

Well, after much stress, I stopped using Plone on this site. Some lovely spammers had created a series of accounts on the site…and were using them to do the kinds of things that spammers due. I ended up deleting every account on Plone and migrating the site to movable type. Now, I can actually start posting here again…
I’ve decided that we are taking the wrong approach to technology adoption in schools and universities. We shouldn’t own the space of learning. The students should. We shouldn’t ask them to create a new account, or learn a new tool every time they switch to a different institution or a different job. They should have their own tools…and we should “expose” our content so they can bring it into their space (pick any tool – drupal, blogger, myspace, facebook, elgg). And the conversation that ensues should be controlled (from a public internet or private ownership stance) by the learner. When the learner graduates, the content and conversations remain his/hers.
Why should my learning artifacts and conversations stay with the college or university? Why should I have to adopt an approach that is determined by the institution? Instead of designing content in WebCT or Blackboard, design for open standards…and allow learners to access content via RSS…allowing any tool to aggregate or scrape content. Allow conversations to happen in their own tool. The concept may be a bit out of synch with the current direction of learning and technology (learning objects and LMS discussions are sooo 2001). In reality, implementing this approach would be less of a system shock than the adoption of an LMS. It allows the university/college/school greater control over content (not limited by the LMS), opens the doors to conversation (learners are familiar with their own tools), and increases technology adoption (learners can get down to learning content, not learning another tool that has no relation to the way in which they live on a daily basis).
It’s simple. It’s social. It’s learner centered. And it integrates with what I hope will be the next big step in education – learning blended with life. Most talk of blended learning today focuses on virtual/physical separation (i.e. add a technology component to classroom instruction…hold part online part face to face, etc.). I think that distinction will eventually disappear (occasionally really simple concepts require new language in order to facilitate change…but then we hold on to those concepts until they become change inhibitors). An LMS is not something that blends with life – we go to an LMS to consume content or rudimentary discussion. That’s great. It’s also not very valuable when we need to move to application, or making the learning relevant. When we make our content available for learners in a format that is recognizable by their existing tools, the content itself can be integrated with how they live their life. Learning isn’t a classroom centric process. Life doesn’t have to stop when learning starts. We can live and learn simultaneously…but only when we are dealing with tools that we control…and models that permit adaptation for changing environments.