Monday, June 16, 2008

Recreating Social Movements in Cooersive Environments

Doesn't work. New wine in old skins.
I recognize the urge to use a LMS like this but really it is a vestige of the industrial education model where authority and control are the major issues.

This is a direct extension of what Illich and Friere were talking about as far as I can see. I shouldn't relinquish my natural ability to learn and teach just because an institution has said that they can manage my education. The control of the technology of learning can't be just handed over to an elite technology priesthood who tell us what God says and how we should think about our relationship to the cosmos. Oops, ... mixing my metaphors.

IMNSHO, it would be so much easier if we all created our own blogs, and set up our own system and linked to each other with conversations. The sense and actuality of ownership of your own learning is critical.

The time that people have spent trying to figure out some of the clunky features of Open Learn could have been spent much more creatively. The time spent trying figured out how to use Compendium or MSG or Vlog could have been much more creatively spent thinking and writing and conversing using a variety of other tools that are free, work better and where added cognitive content is a contribution to the cognosphere.

Blogging applications are much simpler to learn and use than a content management system such as this and they are more adaptable, versatile and best of all, they are clearly mine. I use my blogs and wikis as my personal life-long learning platform and I love learning and contributing in a free range environment. Working in a walled garden is a buzzkill and I can see that a lot of people in this course have given up or been so turned off it will be a long time before they ever want to look favorably on eLearning again. First use leads to future use. If you have a crappy experience you are not likely to try again. Too bad because I was looking forward to working with all the folks that had signed up. Maybe down the road.

I admire and respect the initiative that Open Learn has taken but I can see that there is a lot of maintenance and upgrading lacking. I know that the effort can't be justified and the world of social software has moved on. Compendium was a great application in its time but there are far superior open, free, mind-mapping tools available that allow synchronous collaborative development.

I am working on a project for a Pan-Canadian eLearning Research agenda, a project as dreary as it sounds. It was introduced as an open collaborative venture but locked in another Moodle controlled by one institution. We started all free and happy but as soon as things got a little contentious the authorities moved in to enforce intellectual conformity. It has become a bit of an echo chamber for some of the dominant voices in the field; not more knowledgeable, just dominant.

One of the bright spots is the concept map created by one of the participants using a free application called Mindmeister. I introduced my students to it in my online grad class and within 5 minutes they had figured it out and were working as a group to add value to a group exercise and having fun while they were doing it. These are people that didn't know what a blog was a month ago.

If anyone here is interested I'd be happy to show how to set one up and work on it collaboratively. It'll take about 15 minutes to get set up and get going and its a hoot.

I've been using blogs for quite a while and they have come along way from when you had to use an html editor and you spent as much time with the interface as you did on the content. I was just looking at my first blog entry from Apri 17, 2002. It is on Blogger and all the content is still all there. That is more than I can say for some of the course contributions I've made in various WEBCT courses or Moodles over the years. The content must still be on some institutional server somewhere but once I quit paying tuition and no longer had a student account I no longer had access.

Anyway I'm going to start migrating content over to my Blogger blog so I can be sure that my learning goes with me when this course is done. I know that my open learn stuff will be available as long as they maintain the server but it looks like that might not continue for ever.

Who taught that guy about Critical Pedagogy anyway?? Guards seize him.

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