After visiting Stephen Downes website to find out more about eLearning 2.0 (or Web 2.0 as it is also known), it seems to be the future of online learning. In his ‘Trends and Impacts’ video he describes how eLearning has developed from an online learning environment that delivers content largely supporting traditional classroom-based learning, to the new age of eLearning 2.0 defined by ‘immersive learning’ (learning by doing) and ‘connected learning’ (conversation and interaction via computer-based learning networks; social networking). In this type of online learning, the learner essentially has a ‘personal learning centre’ where they create their own learning by using and mixing content and materials from the web and other sources according to their own needs and interests.
And here comes the “blog”, which two weeks ago I had barely even uttered the word, to now when my head seems to be bursting with stuff about and on blogs. A blog can be this ‘personal learning centre’, used to create and showcase a learner’s work. He says about blogging, it “is very different from traditionally assigned learning content. It is much less formal. It is written from a personal point of view, in a personal voice. Students' blog posts are often about something from their own range of interests, rather than on a course topic or assigned project. More importantly, what happens when students blog, and read reach others' blogs, is that a network of interactions forms-much like a social network.”
In the recent Distance Learning article, Stephen Downes describes how eLearning 2.0 could be applied to an online course. His essential requirements for the course: “the learners choose their own technology - whether blogs, discussion boards, audio feeds, or whatever ...” and “the content is not imposed on them, but is rather, self-selected”. I’m wondering how could a teacher manage all this flexibility, how could standards be maintained, how could students possibly manage to cover all the (typically huge) course prescription?
And he admits this isn’t going to be easy in a tertiary education setting, as there’s too much predefined content and classes, and thinks “the best that can be done is to mitigate the disadvantages. Basically, what this means is throwing a lot of stuff out there and letting people craft their own course out of it”. This sounds even worse than the previous statements!
However his description of what could work is better: content area for course material but with as little design imposed on it as possible (I’m not sure about that, some structure and guidance is surely needed), course blog or similar which would be a focal point for resources and discussion, online synchronous chat like Elluminate, course community for social connections perhaps by discussion list or student blogs. Hang on, this all sounds familiar, isn’t this what we are experiencing in the facilitating eLearning course. Aha, the proof (of how good eLearning 2.0 is) will be in the learning!