About Me

Education, the knowledge society, the global market all connected through technology and cross-cultural communication skills are I am all about. I hope through this blog to both guide others and travel myself across disciplines, borders, theories, languages, and cultures in order to create connections to knowledge around the world. I teach at the University level in the areas of Business, Language, Communication, and Technology.

Friday, June 13, 2008

University vs. Workplace

Today I participated in a conference for the Capital District Educational Technology Group (CDETG). We are a group educational technologists in Northeastern, NY mostly at the university level. The conference, about distance learning, started with the following list of trends in online education followed by a discussion by a panel of policy level educational technologist:

The June 9th edition of ELearning Magazine published what it thought were the trends in online education.

TREND #1 Traditional Learning Management Systems Are Toast

l There will be more learning than ever, but there will not be a centralized LMS. Learning will move to being department, even course-driven, with content being user-created: From LMS to VLE to PLE...

TREND #2 Content Becomes Democratized

l Learning content will be created by users. The content will not be controllable as it is today because there will be significantly more places where learning content will be published.

TREND #3 Thin Slices of Content Will Be Consumed

l Instead of “complete courses”, content will get sliced into smaller, bite sized chunks that will be created rapidly.

TREND #4 Content Authoring Tools Will Change

l Tools will be available that will help users to create thin-sliced content that will become peer and value rated.

TREND #5 Gaming and Simulation Emerges

l Gaming and simulation are somewhat new in learning, but they are very powerful and will continue to gain momentum.

TREND #6 Self-Service Learning Becomes the Norm

l Students will increasing define not only their own courses but programs.

TREND #7 Finding Courses Will Be More Important Than Creating Courses

l Since there will be an explosion of community- developed courseware, campuses will focus on organizing a taxonomy to help users find learning content. Librarians may become more important than the instructional designers. A new job title will emerge: Social Network Manager, the coach of how to create courseware.

What I found interesting was the trends that many thought were not true for the University level. This was trend #6 and #2. This points out the difference between workplace and higher education. Trend #6 would be difficult to institute in a higher education environment because of accreditation requirements. I doubt that trend #2 would be acceptable in either the university or workplace due to the amount of control this would require administrators to give up.

What I thought was interesting was that many felt that there would always be a place for a LMS. However, I feel that the role of the LMS will change over time from a go- to-place for all to an administration system that is the starting point for learning. In other words, I foresee learning management systems as becoming learning tool aggregates that will help keep track of where students and student groups keep their things. This is especially important for the university level, where panelist pointed out that they needed a central place to help student support.


Anonymous said...

I found your comment about the LMS very interesting. I used WebCT in the late 1990s and it was a good scaffold for learning about using the web with classes. However, when I taught at a different institution that didn't support WebCT use at all well, I moved to a wiki (JotSpot then in beta, now the foundation of GoogleSites) and Elgg (now EduSpaces) which allowed students individual control of the level of public exposure for their posts. When I found a free site where I could post individual students' marks password-protected, I had my basic course online set-up. Adding Box for online storage meant students could link a variety of media to their posts.

I believe that use of web applications is better than a LMS for students. The LMS is an enclosed garden that they lose contact with when they leave the course. Both the use of linked applications and the concepts of working this way better prepare students more for all kinds of work environments and for personal web use.

V Yonkers said...

Before going to the conference, I would have agreed with you. However, listening to the policy makers and administrators I realized there are some legal (FERPA being the most relevant) and logistical issues that schools cannot and will not work around.

This actually reminds me of the early years of distance learning when many felt that the internet would allow for lower overhead because less classroom space would be needed. What they did not consider were the copyright laws (thus limiting some of the content and how students accessed it) which really inhibited what could be taught online. 10 years later, we now have a set of very strict guidelines (at least in the NY state university system) to avoid infringing on copyright laws which has translated to higher overhead costs to maintain these systems (i.e. ereserve, video streaming from the library).

While individual teachers might go out of the lms's lack of ITS support for those outside of the LMS means the majority of faculty (like myself) with limited hardware and system ability will stay within the LMS as a jumping off point (i.e. email, gradebook, record of assignments) augmented with outside tools we can trust.