Friday, June 22, 2007

Making the Case for Faculty 2.0

In a recent presentation on Active Learning with colleague Norah Kerr-McCurry (Director of the College's Teaching and Learning Center), we talked about Online 2.0 and the need to integrate Web 2.0 tools (blogs, podcasts, wikis, RSS, social networking, etc) into our online courses and transform faculty into Faculty 2.0. In , Richard MacManus (Read/WriteWeb) provides a great overview that further builds on these ideas. He cites a very comprehensive post by Steve O'Hear that characterizes traditional e-learning as cumbersome, expensive and structured around courses, timetables, and testing. Fundamentally, driven by institutional needs rather than the needs of the individual learner.

That's where Web 2.0 comes in. Web 2.0 is all about empowering the individual and in so doing addressing the question posed by Seymour Papert. Papert's research in learning theory tries to answer the question "When do students best?" According to his theory of Constructionism, it's when students are active in the design and construction of their learning. Stephen Downes, a Research Officer for the Institute for Information Technology depicts this transformation vividly in E-learning 2.0, describing the effect of web 2.0 tools transforming e-learning:
What happens when online learning ceases to be like a medium, and becomes more like a platform? What happens when online learning software ceases to be a type of content-consumption tool, where learning is "delivered," and becomes more like a content-authoring tool, where learning is created? The model of e-learning as being a type of content, produced by publishers, organized and structured into courses, and consumed by students, is turned on its head. Insofar as there is content, it is used rather than read— and is, in any case, more likely to be produced by students than courseware authors. And insofar as there is structure, it is more likely to resemble a language or a conversation rather than a book or a manual.
O'Hear describes E-learning 2.0 as:
a 'small pieces, loosely joined' approach that combines the use of discrete but complementary tools and web services - such as blogs, wikis, and other social software - to support the creation of ad-hoc learning communities.
McManus contrasts traditional Learning Management Systems (LMSs) with what he calls LMS 2.0. His view of traditional LMSs can be summed up by this quote:
the big commercial software like Blackboard is very 'old school' and doesn't have much focus on the community aspects of learning. They're expensive and are generally seen as clunky and difficult to use...
The recurring theme seems to be about empowering the individual learner and helping learners form a community. As a classroom instructor this is a daunting task, because it means giving up control. Already we're finding that control is elusive, as Web 2.0 has empowered our students and begun to undermine the traditional command-and-control hierarchy of academia. Faculty need to embrace these new technologies, form their own communities, empower their students and discover their Faculty 2.0.

Some further reading and links:
  • The Cluetrain Manifesto (an online book with lost of provocative and interesting ideas about the network marketplace)
In many ways, the Internet more resembles an ancient bazaar than it fits the business models companies try to impose upon it. Millions have flocked to the Net in an incredibly short time, not because it was user-friendly -- it wasn’t -- but because it seemed to offer some intangible quality long missing in action from modern life. In sharp contrast to the alienation wrought by homogenized broadcast media, sterilized mass "culture," and the enforced anonymity of bureaucratic organizations, the Internet connected people to each other and provided a space in which the human voice would be rapidly rediscovered. [emphasis added]

Traditional Learning Management System (LMS)
Blackboard (the Microsoft of LMSs)
Moodle (open source; highly customizable)
Sakai (open source; highly customizable)

LMS 2.0
Nuuvo (for sale; no money left for further development)
Chalksite (for sale; will shutdown 8/31/07 if not sold)
haiku LMS


Cathy Garland said...

Your readers might be interested in another LMS. It's called Scholar360. It has all the academic features of Blackboard and other LMS, and it also has a fully-functioning social network that students love.

Mike Qaissaunee said...

Thanks Cathy - will give it a look and add it to the list.

Mike Q

Mark Viquesney said...

Teachers can only be as effective using these tool as is their knowledge of the tools. All these are wonderful, but if the teachers do not want to upgrade themselves, then the tools are worthless. Net Native teachers will have a much easier time integrating these tools because many grew up using them.

I feel like sometimes that I am coming late to the party and need to catch up on everything. But, better late than never, and with each set of tools that I learn to handle, the more confident I feel that I can help form those learning communities outside of the classroom.

Mike Qaissaunee said...

Mark - thanks for the comment. You're right, it is a daunting task to consider some of these tools and technologies. It's even more challenging when you consider the volume of stuff out there and the rate at which this stuff is accelerating. I think Gordon is right when he compares the times we live in to the industrial revolution. I think we'll look back on this snapshot in time as a historic moment.

In technology we always talk about the S-curve of adoption - the early adopters, the big group in the middle, the late adopters and even the laggards - those who will never accept change. If this is akin to the industrial revolution - consider what happened to the laggards during the industrial revolution, and what will happen to these laggards.

Better late than never!


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