This morning I noticed David Whiley’s post If facebook worked like blackboard, which pointed out:
Imagine if every fifteen weeks Facebook:
- shut down all the groups you belonged to,
- deleted all your forum posts,
- removed all the photos, videos, and other files you had shared, and
- forgot who your friends were.
How popular or successful would Facebook be then? How popular or successful is Blackboard now? The closed learning management system paradigm is bankrupt.
This is particularly interesting in the context of our Isthmus project where we are looking at introducing user owned technologies into our courses here at the Department for Continuing Education in Oxford. One of the real challenges for this project has been identifying what user owned technologies our students are using, as we have a majority of adult learners, in many cases the answer has been none.
As a result of this much of the project has been looking at ways to allow greater ownership of the learning, content, tools, through means that make sense to our students. Yes feeding all your content in RSS is great, but not when 95% of your students have never heard of it, and more importantly don’t want to know (unless you can convince them otherwise, but that is the subject of another pilot, New media literacies…)
This has prompted one of the biggest changes in how we deliver our courses since TALL has offered online learning – namely (OK, only in the terms of David’s post) making our installation more like Facebook through the Persistent Identity pilot – which just this term went from a pilot to standard practice. To be basic we are now letting students access their course, materials, discussions, blogs….after the official course is over. It seems an obvious thing to do now, and the fact that about 30% of the students who were allowed continued access have been back to the pilot courses once they were over suggests that this is something that the students value as well.
A small note of caution is that in scaling this up from 4 pilots to over 25 we have caused ourselves rather a lot of unexpected technical hassle, but that is for us to sort out and not really a comment on the basic principle. Which so far seems to be proving sound.