Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Creativity and potential...

Just seen the following quote on Steve Wheeler's excellent blog:
Learning with 'e's: Content is a tyrant...: "The internet is better as a creative space that it is as a repository. This is due in no small part to the gradual evolution of so called Web 2.0 tools and services, the majority of which are richly social and participatory in nature. The capability of social networks to connect people with similar interests from across the globe also promotes the need to create, organise, share and consume content within appropriate contexts. As a society, and within our communities of practice, we need to be able to discern the good content from the bad content."
I think this could easily be applied to virtual learning environments too. The traditional 'document dump' use of a virtual learning environment is the equivalent of giving sawdust to a parched man. When people crave interesting, engaging, exciting, inspiring... and what they get instead are PowerPoints and pdfs... the potential of that creative space disappears in an instant.

Doing more than the simple repository version of online education is quite a feat, however. The structure of a virtual learning environment isn't the structure of the learner. When I browse the internet for content, I move around making connections which suit me. So often this isn't the case in institutional online spaces. Adaptive release forces learners into the predefined processes of the author. Chronological chunking drip feeds learning in pieces which don't encourage the flow of the motivated learner. The technological complexity of constructing a well-designed activity is a hurdle too high for many time-pushed academics.

If web 2.0 is about user-generated content, creativity and connection... how can we turn the spaces we've got - the institutional VLE into a place where real learning happens? What would be the elements which went into the transformation of online / blended learning from the mundane to the magical?

Y'know. I really don't know. I know there are lots of different approaches I'm trying. From solid support for the basics to helping people to connect with one another to develop their innovative practices. Being responsive. Being flexible. Keeping in mind the bigger picture and all that stuff. But it never quite feels like it's enough. I go to conferences and every time get that same sense of déjà vue as the same problems and the same attempts at the same solutions are presented.

The VLE is better as a creative space than a repository. Right?

There just has to be a better way...

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