Month: April 2009

Successful study versus web2.0?

Interesting guide from the university of Illinois for prospective online learners.:

What Makes a Successful Online Student?

I was struck by the emphasis on careful consideration of contributions. Weighing your words before committing: “Be able to think ideas through before responding”. In many respects this stands in contrast to a certain style of interaction, particularly in web2.0 and possibly 3D environments, where the spontaneity of interaction leads to a more speculative type of discourse with a more informal register. A recent article on the American Society of Training and Developments’ website entitled “All aboard, the web3D train is leaving the station” carried the following advice:

The hard part about Web 2.0– and Web 3D–powered training isn’t technology—it’s attitude. You have to loosen up, lighten up, and shut up. Don’t join the party wearing your faculty cloak. Join as a participant. […]

Let them teach each other. No one has better credibility than a successful peer. Your approach will be more productive if it’s more fun, more interactive, more conversational, and more like the computer games, blogs, and podcasts that the iPod generation is already interacting with in its spare time.

It’s worth bearing in mind that ASTD’s audience is perhaps more in the domain of corporate training than HE, but it’s interesting to speculate how far the emphasis on participation can go in terms of loosening register.

Have wikis had their day?

It looks like wikis are not worth shouting about any more. PBwiki (so called because it makes setting up a wiki easier than making a peanut butter sandwich) is changing its name to better project the uses of its product: it offers a cross between a content management system, VLE and, erm, wiki. I have always thought that pbwiki didn’t look or feel like a wiki, so the name change makes sense.

One of the other free wiki providers: wetpaint went down this route some time ago. In fact, even the page titled ‘Create your own wetpaint wiki’ contains no reference whatever to wikis!

Maybe when collaborating online is so easy with Google docs, Ning et al, wikis just aren’t sexy any more.

This is probably a good thing, wikimania led people to try and shoe-horn all kind of activities onto a wiki regardless of whether it was an appropriate tool, whether students liked it and whether it served any purpose other than keeping up with the virtual Joneses.

Perhaps now wikis can rest easy in the online instructors toolbox along with email, discussion boards and powerpoint. It seems that there’s no commercial angle to wikis any more.

In the meantime, all aboard Twitter!

Thomas Frey’s Future of Learning

Really interesting article by futurologist Thomas Frey called ‘The future of Education’. It seems to be a combination between a wish-list and a prediction. It was written nearly 2 years ago and already seems in some respects a little dated (for example cites MySpace as the stand-out social networking site).

There’s a lot to think about here, including a (for me) timely reminder about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, but the part that really grabbed me was his vision of a ‘standard courseware unit’ (an hour’s study) and a standard ‘courseware builder’.

So far, so similar to what we have already: a desire to produce standardised ‘learning objects’ using standardised courseware tools. Frey envisions these standards and tools emerging by the action of the market ‘gravitating’ towards particular tools and formats(probably online course authoring sites) in much the same way as youtube and iTunes have become ubiquitous. I’m not sure if this analogy holds water.

Beyond this, Frey’s vision of learning is one which takes place primarily beyond the bounds of educational institution in terms of space, time and organisation.