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Saturday, June 07, 2008

Learning Organizations, eLearning 2.0 and Edupunk

Janet Clarey wrote an interesting blog post in response to the relatively recent edupunk meme which is basically an ideology that DIY learning and repurposing content is the way to go (and somewhat the ONLY way to go). Janet juxtaposes the recent inclusion of eLearning 2.0 type tools in Learning Management Systems against the philosophy that corporate and commercial is evil of the edupunkers. The questions she raises are:
Is the edupunk ideology saying that the use of social media in commercial learning management systems is an assault on the very philosophy of learning 2.0?

Ideologies shouldn’t be rigid should they? Rather they should be adapted and used in pragmatic ways don’t you think? If you’re a trainer embracing learning 2.0, who gives a rats ass where it lives.
These are fair questions that are also central to the issues of the Enterprise 2.0 Adoption. Corporate IT is interested in rolling out systems that they can control for security, auditing, back-up and a host of other control reasons. This is counter to the very being of a person like Stephen Downes. They would argue that the individual chooses what makes sense in their personal work and learning environment.

As a trainer, you are going to get stuck in the middle of this. If you have a population of learners who have already adopted tools (such as blogging and social bookmarking) for themselves that are different than the corporate tool (the LMS) do you ask them to move? It will depend on the content, but it certainly won't be good for the learner. If your population has not adopted a tool yet, do you have a responsibility to the individual to show them tools that can live beyond their engagement at the company? Do you show them the internal blogging tool only?

The answers are going to depend on the particular situation, but in a few cases I think the answers are fairly well known.

For Wiki-like capabilities, it likely is fine for an LMS to provide these and for learning organizations to use them. Most knowledge workers are used to thinking about that type of content being created for internal use only. It makes sense in many of these cases to keep it inside the firewall. So no problem if their Wiki is tied to the LMS. Just don't make me login to get to it. Allow it to be easily searched. Etc.

But I would claim that if you are talking about blogging as an ongoing learning and networking tool, then you are doing a disservice to learners if you show them only internal tools bundled with the LMS or any tool that is locked inside the walls of the corporation.

These are going to be real challenges for learning organizations and trainers moving forward.

Hopefully, we'll begin to see ways to allow a better handling of inside and outside the firewall solutions. For example, having social bookmarking that allows links to be kept private to a group. Interestingly when Yahoo create MyWeb as a competitor to del.icio.us before acquiring del.icious - they had features that did this. I'm expecting them at some point to put this into del.icio.us so that you can control visibility of bookmarks.

Final thought - I would claim that a bad reaction to this debate is to do nothing because we aren't sure. We need to be building work literacy. This will benefit the corporation and the individual.

3 comments:

Ray Jimenez, PhD said...

There is a place for every type of ideology in learning.

The enemy of “edupunk” is not the “vultures of capitalism” (Janet Clarey). It is the lack of an alternative approach to bring “edupunk” into corporate demands for performance and results. Many supporters of “liberation learning” with Web 2.0 are romantics – I am one of them. I wrote in “3-Minute e-Learning, 2007, about “Learner Control” and the limiting problems of LMSs in e-Learning. We still have the same problem today and I predict will have the same problems with “Learner Control” in Enterprise 2.0 and Learning 2.0.

But Learning 2.0 or edupunk is not supplanting anything; it merely magnifies “Learner Control” to the extreme – now even more powerful with Web 2.0 tools.

This is a case of the blind leading the blind. The LMS vendors do what they do well – produce products. But ill-informed buyers – who have not changed their ideas of learning since 50 years ago – are the decision makers. So there will be more LMSs bought and LMSs will promise to delivery Learning 2.0, as requested by buyers.

How do you break the cycle? Incrementally, you, Downes, and other brilliant people and others are changing the landscape. I think we need to focus on make the Micro-Things in Social Learning the next big thing and insist on LMS vendors to think small while they create large scale solutions. http://vignettestraining.blogspot.com/2008/06/micro-things-in-social-learning-from.html

Jeffrey Keefer said...

I wish I had this problem, Tony, both in my corporate as well as in my academic work. In general, my learners are not very Web 2.0--neither groups of them.

I love all the possibilities for learning out there, though am not quite sure where all these Web 2.0 savvy learners are (unless by this we mean YouTube alone).

I am starting to wonder if this issue has something to do with demographics and social population density?

Tony Karrer said...

Jeffrey, do you think that if you exposed some of your learners to certain aspects of these tools (not as the tools themselves, but in terms of how they could help them) that they would adopt? Maybe you can do a blog post on this?